Can The Things I Purchase for My Child Count Towards My Child Support In West Virginia?
West Virginia child support laws strictly define which expenses can count towards child support. As a non-custodial parent, you might wonder if gifts or expenses for your child can be considered child support. Consulting an experienced WV family law attorney can help clarify your rights.
Purpose of Child Support
Child support aims to cover a child’s basic needs, such as food, housing, clothing, education, and healthcare. In some cases, it may also include additional expenses like daycare, dental work, car and insurance, phone, internet, and extracurricular activities. For example, if your child needs braces, you may be able to include this cost in your child support payments.
Additionally, the purpose of child support is to ensure that the child’s standard of living remains consistent despite the parents’ separation. This means that financial responsibility is shared between both parents to maintain the child’s well-being, even when they are no longer together.
Including Gifts and Loans in Income
Gifts are generally not considered part of the custodial parent’s income unless the non-custodial parent provides them regularly. The court may consider such gifts as income if they were a part of the income during the marriage, generated from a shared investment, or if the giver will continue to provide them. For instance, if you regularly gifted your child a yearly vacation during the marriage, the court may include this expense in the child support calculation.
However, loans provided by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent might be treated differently. The court may consider these loans as income if they are used for the child’s expenses, such as paying for medical bills or tuition fees. In such cases, the court may take into account these additional financial contributions when determining the child support amount.
Types of Gifts from a Paying Parent
Any payment or item given to the child outside of the child support agreement is usually considered a gift. Examples include toys, electronics, clothes, jewelry, or sports items. If you buy your child a new bicycle, the court typically considers it a gift and not a part of your child support obligation.
It is essential to differentiate between gifts given directly to the child and those given to the custodial parent for the child’s benefit. While the court may not count gifts given directly to the child as child support, providing financial assistance to the custodial parent for the child’s expenses might be considered when calculating the support amount.
Dealing With Payments Made Outside the Custody Order
Payments made outside of the court order are not connected to support payments. If you want to ensure that the gifts you provide count as an alternative form of child support, you can agree with the other parent to include these arrangements through the courts.
In some cases, additional expenses for activities or events may be applied toward traditional child support payments, unless the court does not recognize the arrangement. For example, if you pay for your child’s soccer camp, you may be able to count it towards your child support payment.
Keep in mind that the court will ultimately decide whether to accept these alternative arrangements as part of your child support obligation. Providing clear documentation and proof of the payments made, such as receipts or bank statements, can help support your case when presenting it to the court.
Consult with the Co-parent When You Give Gifts
To avoid misunderstandings, it’s best to coordinate with your ex-spouse when giving gifts or making additional arrangements. Establishing a reasonable budget and discussing acceptable items will ensure both parents are on the same page. For example, agree on a spending limit for holiday gifts to avoid disagreements and maintain a positive co-parenting relationship.
Open communication and collaboration with your ex-spouse can help create a healthy co-parenting environment for your child. By discussing gift-giving and other financial arrangements, you can prevent potential conflicts and ensure your child’s needs are met. Establishing trust and transparency with your co-parent can also foster a sense of stability and security for your child, making them feel loved and supported by both parents.
Contact a Skilled and Compassionate Child Custody Attorney Today
To navigate the complexities of child custody, child support, and post-divorce modification orders in West Virginia, consult with the seasoned family law attorneys at Hardy Pence, PLLC. To schedule a free consultation, call (304) 345-7250 or fill out the online contact form.