Child Care for Spouse's Education

Your question is probably best answered by directing you to the child support calculator on our website,

You mention that you and your wife have “joint custody,” but I am not sure if you mean that you have joint legal custody, which means that you both have input and decision making authority for the children, or whether you have joint physical custody, which means that the children spend relatively equal amounts of time with you both. Make sure that you are using the Child Support Worksheet that accurately reflects your custodial arrangement (Worksheet A if one parent has primary physical custody; Worksheet B if there is joint physical custody).

You would include your income, if any (you don’t mention whether you are receiving any spousal support payments), and that of your spouse. You should also include the cost of childcare that you need to expend when the children are with you. You should also include the cost of childcare when the children are with your wife.

You do not mention whether you are exercising custody according to a Court Order, Separation Agreement, or just with a verbal agreement. It sounds to me as if you and your spouse may have some negotiating to do on this issue.

Robin F. Verhoeven
Attorney at Law
Rosen Law Firm
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 200
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.

Since our separation I have become a full time student (no income, was at home full time before then) to get an undergraduate degree that will allow me to get a decent job. My wife works and I care for the children most of the time. My wife insists that I must pay child care expenses needed for me to attend class. I consider my going to school as “work” and thus obligate her (the only one with income) to pay childcare. We have joint custody.

I do not have a college degree and my wife makes a very comfortable living. We were married when she went to post-graduate professional school (free tuition, but I had fulltime responsiblities with children and homecare and we paid off some of the loans together). I feel that since I provided her with the time she needed to get her degree that she should not only be obligated to pay for class time, but for some study time too.


  1. When is the income-earning spouse required to pay childcare?
  2. Does attending classes towards an undergraduate degree qualify?
  3. Does study time qualify?

Thank you.