September always comes with the smell of new books and the jingle of pencils, pens and markers, called to fill the pages of the school year that begins. Reuniting with friends, putting the destination of the next excursions on the map or returning to the school menu mark the beginning of this month for those who return to the classrooms. Although it is also usually a time when old quarrels arise between separated or divorced parents on account of the bill that all this entails.
One of the most frequently asked questions of family lawyers is whether or not the expenses of the beginning of the course are included in the alimony. And it is that, both parents are obliged to support minor or adult children who lack their own income for reasons that are not attributable to them.
The problem arises because there are expenses that are considered “ordinary” and others “extraordinary.” As defined by the Supreme Court in a sentence that can be consulted at this linkThe former are “predictable and periodic” and are included in the maintenance allowance that each month must be paid by the parent who does not have custody, but rather the visitation regime. In general, they are “related to enrollment (in public centers), books, school supplies, uniform and seasonal clothing.” For this reason, “legal operators must take into account the apportionment of the start of the course expenses” when calculating the amount of the pension.
This group would also include the expenses derived from the AMPA fee, transportation, school excursions that take place every year or school canteen if the child stayed at the center when they were determined. “If at the beginning it did not go and then yes, an update has to be considered,” explains Isabel Winkels, managing partner of Winkels Abogados. In the same way, extracurricular activities to which you have already signed up are included, such as football or ballet classes.
Expenses by half
On the contrary, “extraordinary expenses” are “unpredictable, it is not known if or when they will occur, and, consequently, they are not periodic”, defines the Supreme Court. The lawyer points out that these expenses may be “necessary”, such as those derived from dental or optical treatments, including the psychologist, the speech therapist, the insoles and even horse riding if it is prescribed by a doctor, for example, to heal a disease. Similarly, private classes motivated by poor school performance form part of this category.
There are also other extraordinary expenses, but “convenient” and not essential, such as chess classes to which the child was not enrolled when the regulatory agreement was drawn up or when the sentence was passed.
In general, extraordinary expenses “are paid by both parents in half, without prejudice to the fact that they may agree or the judge agree that one of the parents should face a higher percentage of expenses based on their greater economic capacity,” he argues. Ángeles Pérez Vega, lawyer at the Montero Aramburu firm. Therefore, they are outside the maintenance allowance.
In cases of joint custody, the general rule is that each parent assumes the ordinary expenses “generated during the time the children are in their company” and the extraordinary expenses “in half,” the lawyer points out. This takes place when both are assigned the care of the children under equal conditions, so that there is no visitation regime and no alimony.
The difficulty arises over other expenses, such as the driver’s license, since “there is a division of sentences” in this regard, says Isabel Winkels. For example, it may be considered “necessary” if it is a requirement for the child to be able to go to a company for a professional internship.
And the same in relation to the expenses derived from studying in the private university. Although in principle they should be classified as ordinary because they are training, they are extraordinary expenses due to their high impact as long as they are not due to a “whim. If the son wants to study medicine and remains one hundredth from obtaining a place in a public center and there are sufficient resources, it would be extraordinary, ”says the lawyer.
Precisely, parents do not always agree on whether the expenses are necessary or simply a whim of the other parent. And there the discord arises. “If the person obliged to meet the extraordinary expense refuses to assume it, the parent who faced it exclusively can demand the corresponding payment through a judicial procedure,” explains Ángeles Pérez Vega.
However, if the extraordinary expense to be claimed was not expressly foreseen, the party requesting it must first ask the judge to declare whether it is of that nature. And it will be the justice that decides, forcing or not the other parent to pay.
In these cases, Ana Criado recommends going to mediation instead of initiating a judicial procedure. This alternative way of conflict resolution is characterized by unblocking emotional knots, hence it is highly recommended in family conflicts. The mediator, generally a lawyer or psychologist, does not impose a solution or take sides for any of the people in conflict, but rather helps them find a consensual solution to the conflict.
“The mediator will create a space for dialogue where the parents listen to each other, will try to get to the bottom of the matter and will find out what the minor wants,” he explains. If an agreement is reached, it would have the same executive force as a sentence once raised to a public deed by a notary or approved by a judge, that is, it would oblige the parents to comply with the agreement as if it were a judicial decision. .
Mediation tries to find out “the why and why” of the expense associated with a specific activity. “Maybe it is not a whim, but a way for the child to have friends or to develop. In a trial, apart from the possibility of winning or losing and the greater spending of money, who is harmed is the child, “says the mediator. “It is about reasoning” because children are for life.