Travel expenses spring up in visitation

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Question:

As a non-custodial out of state parent, is there any consideration given to travel expenses and distance when determining child support? Currently our agreement states that neither of us is to pay support to the other because we contribute in other ways; I pay for travel. Now my ex-spouse wants to fight to receive child support from me. I cannot exercise my visitation every month due to the distance. The children are 14 and 16 and my ex insists I pay the $120 round trip airline escort fee so they don't travel alone. He is the one that moved even further away. He is remarried and their combined income is probably at least four to five times more than mine. 

Answer:

Different states have different approaches to child support. The one thing they have in common -- because they are required to by the federal government -- is that child support obligations are based on objective criteria that yield a relatively uniform statewide result. This federal law has pretty much reduced the number of variables that are used to compute child support to such basic items as parental income and time spent with the children.

Still, there is a cornucopia of state twists -- for instance, childcare costs can be added to the base amount in some states. And an obligation to support previous children may serve to lessen the amount. It's possible that the courts would consider a travel expense as a variable that can be used to adjust child support downwards, but you'd have to ask a knowledgeable lawyer who practices in the state in which the child support order was issued.

Another possibility is to ask the court that issued the divorce decree to modify the custody or visitation part of the order to require your husband to pay for the transportation, which would eliminate the child support issue altogether. But it still means going to court.

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