Who Pays Kids’ Bills in California Custody Orders?

Kids cost money. Sometimes, they cost a lot of money. That’s one reason California considers financially supporting your children a fundamental responsibility of parenthood. Your obligation to provide for your kids cannot be waived. It’s the entire basis for the state’s child support orders and regulations.

However, a simple support order doesn’t always cover every possible expense related to kids. For example, who pays the tuition if your children go to a private school? Who should cover the costs of extracurriculars? In short, who should pay the bills for your kids?

Do Parents Have to Split Every Cost Equally?

According to California Family Code § 4053, “A parent’s first and principal obligation is to support the parent’s minor children according to the parent’s circumstances and station in life. […] Both parents are mutually responsible for the support of their children.” The law also states, “Each parent should pay for the support of the children according to the parent’s ability.”

In other words, parents share responsibility for financially supporting their kids. However, their financial obligations are not necessarily equal. If there is a significant income difference between the parents, the higher earner must provide more financial assistance than the lower earner. 

Normally, this is accomplished through the use of support orders. The court uses an established equation to determine how much financial help each party owes the children and then awards support to one party based on how parenting time is divided.

However, this doesn’t cover specific details like tuition and insurance. Instead, these issues may result in an addition to the standard order under Family Code § 4062. However, additions are not subject to the same standardized process as basic orders.  

Negotiating Child Support Orders in California

If you’re concerned about who will foot the bill for your child’s daycare, private school, or other high-cost activity, you have options. While you cannot waive the obligation to pay child support, you can negotiate an amount that differs from the guideline. In fact, many high-net-worth couples and celebrities do just that. 

For example, Halle Berry negotiated with her ex-spouse, Olivier Martinez, to create a personalized order. Berry agreed to directly cover their son’s medical expenses, health insurance, school tuition, and extracurricular costs. This likely allowed her to make a lower monthly support payment while taking a significant financial burden off Martinez’s shoulders. 

You can potentially do the same. By negotiating with your coparent, you can decide who should pay routine expenses for your children and make it part of your overall order. For many parents, this can reduce the risk of financial disputes after an order is finalized. 

Learn More About Negotiating Child Support From Experienced Attorneys

A little negotiation goes a long way. At the Viola Law Firm P.C., our skilled team is prepared to help you navigate requesting or modifying child support orders in California. Schedule your consultation today to learn more.

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