Child Care Expenses

Similar to medical and educational expenses, child care expenses are an "add-on" expense, meaning the parents normally share the expense in proportion to their incomes.

Does the day-care count as child care?

Of course.

Does the nanny count as child care?

Yes, as long as having a nanny in your particular situation is reasonable, where the meaning of the word "reasonable" depends on all of the circumstances, financial and otherwise.

Can I pay my mom/dad/other relative for taking care of the child(ren)?

Yes, assuming the expense is occurred due to your having to work, and assuming that the alternative is that you would have to pay someone else to watch your child. Note that the expense must actually be paid, however; you can't make up a fee and then collect from your ex, without actually paying your relative. Best practice is to agree on the financial aspect of it in writing, and to get receipts. It may seem ridiculous to get a written invoice or receipt from your parent or relative, but if you're looking to classify this as reimbursable child care, that's what you should do.

Does summer camp count as child care?

It depends on the circumstances: the cost of the camp, the other alternatives, and both parties' financial circumstances, to name a few. Best practice is to address summer camp specifically in your settlement agreement.

Does this mean I get to charge my ex for half of the cost of the babysitter?

No. Child-care expenses are shared only when they are incurred due to one parent working, or seeking work. This means that the non-custodial parent is rarely in a position where he (or she) would incur reimbursable child-care expenses.

What about a situation where I have to go out of town for work, my ex is not available to take them, and I arrange for a relative to take care of the children?

You should address this specific situation in your settlement. What I normally recommend is giving the non-custodial parent a "right of first refusal." If he (or she) declines to take the children while you are out of town, then you would be entitled to pay a friend or relative a reasonable amount for caring for them and to share that cost equally (or in whatever division you agree upon, which may or may not be the same proportion that you divide the other child care expenses.)

Remember, nothing prohibits you from negotiating your own rules for your own specific situations when you settle your case. Again, the saying is that when you settle a case, you can use a scalpel, whereas the court has only a cleaver.

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