Under Maine law, the State Legislature from time to time analyzes the costs of raising children in Maine, looking at all costs and allowing for relative economic circumstances, the number of children in the family, and the ages of the children. That analysis results in a child support table and is added to the statutes for family division matters.
Costs include everything a Maine family might spend on their children. The basic costs of shelter, clothing and food are included at all levels. But there is no limit to the type of costs considered. Normal medical costs, haircuts, after-school events, schoolbooks, birthday gifts, and summer camp – all may be considered at the appropriate income level and age level. Extraordinary continuing medical costs are NOT included and may be added to the child support calculated from the table. The court may also, upon agreement of the parties or on its own findings of need, order additional costs added to the child support table amount. These may include childcare costs while a party goes to work, health insurance premiums, out-of-pocket medical expenses, special school tuition, school and sports uniforms, extracurricular fees, and others.
The child support table defines the annual costs for raising the family. The Court then assigns a share of those costs to both parties, according to their relative incomes and ability to pay. Most professionals involved in family law in Maine agree these amounts are NOT sufficient to raise a family. Court awards for child support are almost never higher than required to raise a family. Many parties wrongly believe the child support money must be used for only certain items. The Court is only interested to make sure the children have access to all the necessary costs of growing up. They do not necessarily care whether that money comes from the child support or from other income. A party must provide those childhood costs before they spend their income on other items. If a party denies providing an important item for the children and purchases instead something that is either not necessary or is intended for someone other than the children, the court has a right and a duty to get involved and correct that situation. So don't buy lottery tickets if the children's school lunch is not paid that week.
At the Law Office of William T. Bly we have the experience and the training to help advise you on these spending decisions.