Special & Extraordinary Expenses

Determining Special & Extraordinary Expenses

The Indiana Child Support Guidelines do not include a component to cover the child’s extracurricular activity costs, including but not limited to summer camp, sports leagues, scouting, dance, piano lessons, etc. When the custodial parent and non-custodial parent agree that the children may participate in optional extracurricular activities, the parents should pay their pro rata share (a percentage proportionate to their income) or another agreed upon amount.

Without an agreement for extracurricular activity expenses, the court, in assigning responsibility for the costs, should take into account the following factors:

  • Each parent’s ability to pay;
  • Which parent is encouraging the activity;
  • Whether the children have historically participated in the, or any, extracurricular activity;
  • The parent’s reason for encouraging or opposing participation in the extracurricular activity.

If the parents or the court determine that the child may participate in extracurricular activities, the method of sharing these expenses shall be set forth in the order.

Special & Extraordinary Expenses in Indiana

The Indiana Child Support Guidelines requires that extraordinary educational expenses are separate from the basic child support obligation. The extraordinary education expenses may be for elementary, secondary or post‑secondary education at private or special schools, institutions of higher learning, and trade, business or technical schools to meet the child’s particular educational needs. When the parents fail to agree the court should allocate these extraordinary educational expenses after considering factors, including but not limited to:

  • The child aptitude and ability;
  • The child’s reasonable ability to contribute to the educational expenses through work, obtaining loans; and obtaining financial aid;
  • The ability of each parent to meet the extra expenses.

Post-Secondary Expenses

In allocating post-secondary (college) educational expenses, the court should consider each parent’s income, earning ability, financial assets and liabilities. The court is not required to order the parents’ contribution toward college expenses.

Prior to a child’s emancipation, a parent, guardian of the child, or child, may file a petition for educational needs until the child becomes 21 years of age (support order entered prior to July 1, 2012) or 19 years of age (support order entered after July 1, 2012).

If a post-secondary education award is appropriate, the court should divide the expenses between the parents and the child, taking into consideration the incomes and overall financial condition of all parties, education gifts, education trust funds, and any other education savings program that the child may benefit from. The court should consider the child’s scholarships, grants, student loans, employment status and other cost‑reducing programs available to the student.

The court will typically include tuition, books, room and board, lab fees, course related supplies, and student activity fees as part of a post-secondary educational award. In addition, the court has the ability to require a minimum grade point average and minimum number of credit hours. The court can also request transcripts to determine continued parental contribution to post-secondary expenses.

The court may limit consideration of college expenses to the cost of an Indiana state supported college or university such as Indiana University Bloomington or Purdue University. However, in certain circumstances, it is possible for the court to order payment of private college expense.

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Joshua R. Hains is a Carmel child support attorney who first – and more importantly – listens to his client's needs. After a through consultation, he applies more than a decade of family law experience to each unique case so that every client can receive recommendations and solutions suited to their individual needs.

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