What You Should Know About a Final Child Support Order if You Have Minor Children.

At the end of each divorce or custody case, the court enters a final child support order.  A child support order covers a number of subjects:

  • The monthly payment the non-custodial parent will pay as calculated under one of the formulas found in Civil Rule  90.3,
  • The adjustment if any for the cost of medical insurance for the children,
  • How the parents are going to share uncovered medical expenses up to $5000
  • How the parents are going to share uncovered medical expenses, which exceed $5000, and
  • How the parents are going to share travel costs necessary to exercise visitation, and
  • Which parent is going to file for the children’s PFD’s?

How the base monthly child support amount is calculated.

The amount of child support a parent will pay is calculated using one of formulas found in Alaska Rule of Civil Procedure 90.3.   If a parent has fewer than 110 overnights, then that parent is the non-custodial parent.  If both parents have more than 110 overnights then they have shared custody.  But depending on their relative earnings and the number of overnights frequently even a parent with shared custody will pay child support.   In addition to a shared custody arrangement, parents can have divided custody or what is called a “hybrid arrangement.”  I discuss this in my November 17, 2015, post.

How the cost of purchasing health insurance for the children is divided between parents.

Some employers provide free health insurance for dependants of employees.  Other employers charge their employees to include dependants.  The final child support order states how the parents will share the cost of health insurance for the minor children.  Civil Rule 90.3 requires parents to share equally the cost of health insurance coverage.  If the parent who pays child support covers the children, then one-half of the monthly premium is subtracted from the base child support amount to arrive at the final monthly child support amount.  If the other parent pays for health insurance, then one-half of the cost is added to child support.  If both parents cover the children, one-half of the costs are netted out against each other.

How the annual costs of uncovered medical expenses are split between parents.

The final child support order addresses how the annual cost of uncovered medical expenses are split between the parents.  In the absence of unusual circumstances, parents share the first $5000 of uncovered medical expenses equally. Uncovered medical expenses exceeding $5,000 are split between parents based on their relative annual earnings.

How the costs of travel expenses for visitation are split between parents.

The final child support order covers the cost of travel expenses for visitation.  There are travel expenses when parents live in different parts of the state or different states, and the children travel between homes for visitation.  There are also travel expenses when a parent travels to the other parent’s community on a regular basis to exercise visitation with the children.  The court cannot make one parent pay for 100% of visitation costs unless unusual circumstances exist.  The court is required to split the children’s travel expenses between the parents in some fashion depending on the dollar amount of travel expenses and the parties’ relative financial conditions.

If one of the parents travels to the other parent’s community to exercise visitation, the court will probably look at the distance the parent has to travel.  The court is probably not going to make the parents split the cost of fuel for travel between Anchorage and Wasilla.   On the other hand, if a parent travels from Anchorage to Fairbanks for visitation, the court will probably require the parents to split visitation costs.  These costs might include lodging as well as fuel.  It just depends on the facts.

If the children live with one parent during the school year and the other parent during the summer, the custody order may give the school-year parent visitation time with the children at the other parent’s home during the summer.  If so, the court will probably require the parents to split the school-year parent’s travel costs to see the children.

Filing for the Children’s PFD’s.

The final child support order usually requires the parent who pays child support to file for the children’s PFD’s. However, the child support order does not address what happens to the PFD’s when they are received by the parent who filed the children’s applications.  The final custody order typically requires the parent to deposit the children’s PFD’s in accounts set up for them and makes that parent responsible for filing the children’s tax returns.  The final custody order will also state that neither parent can take money from the PFD accounts without the consent of both parents.


Posted in: Divorce