Though the recent heat wave begs to differ, the fact is the end of summer is right around the corner and with it, the new school year. During this time of the year, many parents are finding new child care arrangements or renewing their school year child care coverage.

Reasonable childcare costs are a permissible “add on” to child support awards and are specifically factored in the child support calculation under Rule 1910.16-6(a). While it is easy to assume that it is a dollar-for-dollar off-set, the reality is that the calculation will allocate the expense between the parties in proportion to their net incomes after it is reduced for the payee’s tax break from the Child Tax Credit.

Information about the eligibility for this tax credit can be found here. A change in childcare arrangements could constitute a change in circumstances and justify a reexamination of the support order, but it can also open a host of other issues (for example, whether the new – and more expensive – child care coverage is necessary, or whether there is a less expensive alternative).

It is important to provide your attorney with all of your financial information and how you plan to file your taxes for that tax year; there are phase out income levels for this tax credit and it is important to know whether the Domestic Relations Office calculation is automatically reducing your child care expenses, even if you are not eligible to claim the credit. While the Rule states that the child care expenses won’t be reduced if eligible parents does not qualify to receive the credit, it is important to make sure this aspect of the Rule is not overlooked and you are not being assessed a credit you can claim on your taxes.

Finally, as the Rule states, the credit will be applied whether the parent actually claims it on their taxes or not, so if it is being applied, then you should be claiming it!