Under the law, parents who separate are still financially responsible for the basic daily needs of children (food, shelter, clothing) regardless of which parent has custody. Whether you’re the custodial parent or the one making child support payments, you should be prepared for the types of expenses you may have to cover.

Common Expenses That Could Be Included in a Child Support Agreement

Courts determine the amount of basic child support obligation using both parents’ incomes and the Washington State Child Support Schedule. This calculation will determine the Divorced Woman Examining Expensestransfer payment one parent pays to the other for each child’s meals, housing, clothing, utilities, and other basic needs.

The Washington State Child Support Schedule recognizes certain expenses that parents are expected to share, including:


Parents should record the monthly cost of each child’s health insurance premiums, co-pays, deductibles, medical expenses not covered by insurance, prescriptions, dental care, and special or ongoing treatment (such as braces or physical rehabilitation).


The court recognizes that it’s unreasonable for a working custodial parent to bear the total cost of daycare and includes this expense in the ordered child support amount.


Educational expenses can range from occasional field trips and transportation costs to after-school tutoring, standardized testing, and college prep courses and application fees.

Transportation expenses

Parents who live a long distance from one another are required to share the cost of any visitation-related travel expenses.

Special expenses

The court allows a line item for special expenditures that may be considered when calculating child support, such as the cost of extra-curricular activities. Depending on the child’s needs, a non-custodial parent may have to pay their share of art classes, music lessons, swimming lessons, sports camps or equipment fees, and driver's education courses.

Do I Have to Pay for Expenses I Disagree With?

The courts expect miscellaneous school expenses, such as tuition, to be shared by the parents in the same proportion as the basic child support obligation. However, these costs can quickly add up. If one parent wants the child to attend a private school, have weekly piano lessons, or go to a more expensive daycare, does the other parent have to split the cost?

It depends. Parents are generally expected to split the costs of additional expenses incurred by their children, but that doesn’t mean the children are given a blank check—and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the cost will be split evenly between the parents. Finally, the court may be asked to consider additional expenses and their cost before determining whether or not they will be included in the child support order.

It’s important to remember that as children age, their needs and expenses change. A child may only need new clothing, while a teenager may have high automobile insurance premiums or need plane tickets to visit prospective colleges. If your children need more now than in the past, you may need to request a modification to the child support order.

The court will review several factors before making any modifications, including:

  • Increased household income from a new spouse or partner
  • Child support from other relationships
  • Whether the child is making an extraordinary income
  • The time child(ren) spends with each parent
  • Both parents’ wealth, taxes, debt, and available resources
  • Differences in the parents' cost of living
  • Children and support payments from other relationships

Let Us Help You Calculate Your Support Payments

Child support payments typically stop upon a child's 18th birthday or on the day they graduate from high school (whichever is later). However, some parents may be required to pay post-secondary support, easing the financial burden of college or vocational training expenses. 

It’s essential to provide an accurate estimate of your child’s needs to the court. Any miscalculation could throw off the amount of child support by thousands of dollars. At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, we guide you through the custody and support process and ensure all of your needs are met. Call us today at (425) 460-0550 to arrange a private consultation, or use our online contact form to have us get back to you.


Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington