As anyone who has kids probably already knows, raising a child can be expensive. When a couple decides to divorce, that means they need to think about how they will share all of the costs related to bringing up their children. As a recent decision from California’s First District Court of Appeals shows, child support costs often go beyond basics like food, clothing, and shelter.
Husband filed for divorce from Wife in 2000, following an eight-year marriage in which the couple had one child. In the years after the split, the couples engaged in protracted litigation on property division and child support issues. The child began living with Wife in New York in 2001, and Wife was granted sole full legal and physical custody of the boy four years later.
The parties agreed to a stipulation resolving various issues in 2006. Among other provisions, Husband agreed to pay Wife $3,500 per month in child support. The stipulation indicated that the amount included “no additional add-ons with the exception of health-care add-ons for deductibles and co-pays,” and half of any fees related to the boy’s attendance in public school.
The stipulation stated that it was intended to be “a complete resolution of all pending issues,” and to “resolve any and all claims that either party may have against the other up to May 5, 2006.” It provided an exception, however, for issues specifically reserved in a prior stipulated judgment, including “child support in the future.”
In September 2010, Wife sought a court order forcing Husband to pay certain “add-ons” that she said had accrued over the last four years, including for uninsured health care costs, school fees, and extra-curricular activities and lessons. She explained that the child’s health insurance policies were in his father’s name, meaning that she wasn’t able to get an explanation of benefits statement showing the amounts that she had been forced to pay out of pocket.
In May 2012, a trial court ordered Husband to begin paying half of all of the child’s uninsured medical costs, beginning that month. It also retroactively increased the monthly child support payment amounts for the last two years and ordered Husband to make up the difference within 90 days.
On appeal, however, the First District said the trial court erred in not specifically addressing the request for health care add-ons from 2006 to April 2012. “Due to [Wife]’s failure to timely submit adequate documentation of what she had actually paid for the child’s uninsured health care expenses, we cannot fault the trial court for not resolving [Wife]’s motion with respect to health care add-ons,” the Court said. “Nonetheless, the trial court erred in this respect.”
As a result, the Court vacated the part of the lower court’s decision that denied the retroactive health care add-ons. It said Wife was entitled to half of those costs that she could document with sufficient evidence.
If you’re considering seeking a divorce in California, contact San Jose divorce lawyer John S. Yohanan. With more than 30 years of experience, Mr. Yohanan is an accomplished family law attorney who has helped a number of clients resolve a wide variety of issues – including those related to child support – on optimal terms. Call our office at (408) 297-0700 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
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