What costs are covered by child support?

When parents split up, agreements must be made regarding the costs of caring for and raising the children. A discussion may arise between the parents about what exactly is to be paid in child support. Who should buy the clothes, for example, if the children also spend a large part of the time with the parent who has to pay child support?

Parents are free to make their own agreements regarding the division of the various expenses for the children. If parents share the care (co-parenting) or would like to be jointly responsible for the finances, they can, for example, choose to set up a children's account, into which both parents pay an amount of money every month and from which certain expenses for the children are paid. Such an agreement is laid down in a parenting plan, in which it is good to describe which expenses will - or will not - be paid from this account.

If parents do not want a joint children's account or if the contribution is determined by the court, we speak of child support. Child support is a monthly contribution to the costs of caring for and educating the minor children. Child support is paid by one parent to the main caring parent.

In a child support agreement, it is assumed that each parent bears the daily costs of the children when they stay with him/her. In addition, there are of course other costs which are independent of where the children are staying. The starting point is that the parent where the children have their main residence, and who often also receives the child support, pays these costs. These costs are also called 'costs exceeding residence'. The daily costs are also called 'subsistence costs'.

Subsistence costs are incurred by both parents when they each spend time with the children. If one of the parents pays child support to the other parent, a certain percentage of those costs can be taken into account for the paying parent in the child support calculation. This is called the care discount.

The item "clothing" in particular is often the subject of discussions, especially when the children spend a large amount of time with the parent who has to pay child support. The child support receiver often does not feel obliged to buy clothes from the child support. Do these expenses for clothing now fall under the subsistence costs?

In 2020, the Expert Group on Alimony Standards, a group that makes recommendations in the field of alimony for legal practice, added the item 'clothing' to the list of costs exceeding residence. This means that the costs of clothing must be paid from the child support, even if there is co-parenting.

These costs include:

  • Clothing and footwear
  • Costs for public transport (in connection with school)
  • Sports fees, sports equipment, sportswear
  • Musical instruments
  • Subscriptions (including telephone)
  • Hairdresser
  • School fees, school excursions/school trip
  • Bicycle
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses

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Subsistence costs are:

  • Food
  • Drinking
  • Body care
  • Accommodation costs
  • Trips/holidays
  • Toys

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Judges and parties can deviate from this in individual cases, but in most cases the recommendations are followed.

It is possible for parents to agree on a different division of costs. To prevent discussions afterwards, it is advisable to lay down the agreement in a parenting plan.

Do you have a discussion with your ex-partner about who should pay which costs or about the amount of child support? Should a parenting plan be drawn up that includes agreements on the costs of the children? Please feel free to contact one of our lawyers who can advise you on this matter. We will be happy to assist you!

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