All About Direct Expenses

If you have shared residency, you've probably heard the term "Direct Expenses" before. Direct expenses (DE) are an important consideration in a child support case. There are a few ways DE can be split between parents, but in this article, we'll talk about the definition of direct expenses.

Prior to the 2016 Kansas child support guidelines, the definition of direct expenses had to be gleaned from the brief examples found in the appendices of the guidelines. Such examples still exist in appendix X of the guidelines as expense sharing plans. Expenses such as clothing, school tuition, etc... There came about a level of question as to what constitutes a direct expense? Are school lunches considered direct expenses or are they simply part of the household food bill? Are extracurricular activities direct expenses?

The 2016 guidelines now provide a basic definition of direct expenses to help shared residential parents to both select the best child support calculation method and to budget for such items. Section II.A.1 defines direct expenses as:

"Direct expenses for a child shall include those fixed expenses paid directly to a third party, such as a school, church, recreational club, or sports club to allow participation in an activity or event, or to attend school. Direct expenses also include all necessary supplies and equipment purchased to support such activity.

Direct expenses shall include:

  • All school and school-related expenses including school lunches.
  • Extracurricular activities.
  • Clothing."

Direct expenses, by definition, are paid to a third-party to allow the child(ren)'s participation or attendance. Extracurricular activities, and any necessary equipment, are included in direct expenses as well.

The reason only shared residential parents might have heard about DE and not other custodial situations is because in most other cases, the residential parent is assumed to provide all DE for the child(ren). In shared residential cases, DE can either be shared or split evenly between the parents. Either calculation method will involve DE in some manner. Primary residency/Non-primary residency cases don't typically include discussion about direct expenses because it is presumed the residential parent, the parent receiving child support in most cases, will be financially responsible for providing all DE.

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