Back to School – Who Pays for What?


This is an expensive time of year for parents with school-aged children. Back-to-school shopping bills can run high from clothes to backpacks, pencils, and notebooks. When you are divorced and have children who pays these expenses should have been negotiated during your divorce. Your child support payment may have been calculated with these expenses in mind or your agreements should have clearly stated who is going to pay for which items. Sometimes parents simply agree to share all reasonable expenses with one doing the shopping and keeping track of receipts.

Here is a little more information on child support payments here in Bucks and Montgomery County, PA.

Child support in Pennsylvania is based on guidelines established by the state Supreme Court. They are intended to make sure that similarly situated parties are treated similarly. The amount of support is meant to provide for expenditures for food, housing, transportation and other necessary miscellaneous items on behalf of the children.

The guideline amount will be based on the combined net monthly income of both parties. There are circumstances which may warrant a change in the amount including having a special needs child. Raising a special needs child may result in additional education costs due to specialized education. The Rules of Civil Procedure covering child support matters allow for deviations from the guideline amount so you could have a support order requiring these costs be covered by the parties depending on their income, the cost to raise a child, tuition, and extra-curricular activities of the child.

In most cases both parties come to an agreement on which parent pays how much for child support. Educational expenses need to be considered when drawing up these agreements though as circumstances change changes in the agreement are often negotiated.

The person who doesn’t play a role in deciding who pays for what is your child. Like every other issue that may divide former spouses, using children as pawns in a power game will not help you. It will harm your child, your relationship with your child and a judge in a future matter may take your manipulation into account when making a decision.

If you have questions about child support or feel you may need legal representation in a child support matter contact our office so we can talk about your situation, how the law may apply and what can be done to protect your interests and those of your child.