Indirect Child Support payments


#1

In drafting a separation agreement, is it possible to structure the child support such that

  1. my spouse agrees to continue paying our son’s health insurance until age 18 (although I will have custody), and if he at any point is at a job that does not give him health insurance he would give me the money to pay for our son on my own health plan, and
  2. my spouse pays day care expenses for our son (he will be able to continue utilizing his flex account for tax-free dependent care expenses up to $5,000 per year, but would pay the entire cost of day care, not just what is covered under his flex plan), and
  3. at the point at which our son enters school and there are no longer day care expenses, my spouse would contribute the same sum of money that he was spending on day care each month into an education account for my son, which I would have control over.

Basically, I am asking that my spouse pay health insurance and day care, and when day care is over, he use the same money to build a college fund for our son. In this sense, he would not be paying me any money directly, but it would still go toward the care of our son. Is this sort of arrangement possible, and if so, are there any specific terms that I need to make sure are clarified in the agreement surrounding this?

Are the terms for child support payments generally until the child turns 18 or graduates from college?

Thank you for your response.


#2

You may outline Child Support in a Separation Agreement, though in my opinion, it is better to have Child Support in a court order, when done by agreement these are called Consent Orders.

The reason I recommend that Child Support be contained in a Court Order is that it is easier to enforce (ie; court orders are enforceable by the contempt powers, rather than having to pursue a breach of contract action if the Agreement is breached.).

It is common for one spouse to cover the child on their health insurance plan, even if the child does not primarily reside with that parent. You may also word your agreement to state that the insurance coverage be maintained until the child is no longer eligible for coverage under the plan. (usually around age 23 or 24). A requirement for reimbursement is also acceptable and will be enforced.

Day-care costs are usually factored into the child support calculation, but you may have your spouse pay 100% of the cost over and above child support if he agrees to do so. Any terms you agree to will be acceptable and enforceable.

The child support guidelines state that child support lasts until the child turns 18 graduates from high school, which ever occurs first.


#3

If you have a separate bank account during coveture (prior to separation) the funds in that account are marital in nature. The same goes if you are already separated and fund the new account with marital funds. It is still advisable to have a separate account so you are guaranteed access to funds. The fact that the money is martial in nature does not mean the other party has access to it. Further, since you are now separated, any money earned after the date of separation is your separate property.