Visitation Expenses

First of all, I want to express my gratitude to your firm for providing this forum. It is an outstanding public service. When I practiced in California, it was always law with a heart, and I am gratified to find the same attitude in action in North Carolina.

Briefly, my wife and I separated in July, when she moved to Charlotte and took sole custody of our daughter.

While my daughter comes to Raleigh, occasionally, more often than not, I take the train to Charlotte, rent a car, and spend time with my her and my ex-wife at various events and attractions, and take them both out for meals.

When I started using your firm’s worksheet to compute visitation expense, I assumed that all of my costs relative to these trips to Charlotte and the attendant activities would be inclusive in this apportioned extraordinary expense category. Is this a correct basis for calculating this aspect of support or do I need to refine it?



I think that it is easy to make an argument that expenses for travel and lodging would be included in the child support calculation. The more difficult expenses to argue for inclusion are things such as food and entertainment. This is because you would have some food and entertainment expenses if you were doing visitation in your home town but likely not as much. I would play with the child support calculator using different variations of your expenses so that you can get an idea of the range of possibilities if the case were to go to court.

Judges sometimes also proportion the expenses differently than simply applying them as extraordinary expenses using the child support guidelines. It really depends on which party moved and why.

Thank you for your response, Kathleen.

Following your suggestion, I offered to limit extraordinary visitation expense to travel and lodging, and this is what I got back:

“Besides, subtracting travel is only allowed by a judge’s ruling and ONLY in the event where financial hardship would occur on the part of the parent providing child support that would greatly impact their ability to pay for housing, food, gas or utilities.”

Is this North Carolina law?

No, that is not NC law. Yes, a judge can order that travel be included as an extraordinary expense, but parties can voluntarily enter agreements and consent orders where they agree on child support figures, which can include extraordinary expenses. Secondly, there is no requirement that an extraordinary expense create a financial hardship before it can be included. The 1child support guidelines state:

Other extraordinary child-related expenses (including 1. expenses related to special or private elementary or secondary schools to meet a child’s particular educational needs, and 2. expenses for transporting the child between the parents’ homes) may be added to the basic child support obligation and ordered paid by the parents in proportion to their
respective incomes if the court determines the expenses are reasonable, necessary, and in the child’s best interest.