Schools been back in session for a week or two. In about three weeks people will start calling our office and say something like this: my ex won’t pay half of our kid’s preschool costs; doesn’t he have to split it with me?
(Note: I use “he” not because it’s always the father who refuses to share in preschool costs, but because it’s usually — by a pretty big margin — the father who refuses to share in preschool costs.)
So, Does He Have to Split the Costs with Me?
This is one of those situations that seems like it should be a lot more straightforward than it actually is. Let me take you through how a commissioner or judge normally looks at this situation.
A lot of this depends on the language in your divorce decree. Most Utah divorce decrees don’t contain specific language about “preschool.” If yours does talk specifically about preschool and tell you how to split the costs, then you’re golden.
Usually, though, decrees talk about “daycare” or “child care” and how to split those costs. Sometimes, commissioner and judges will say preschool is daycare, and sometimes they won’t.
We have been pretty successful arguing preschool is really daycare because if our clients didn’t have the child in preschool, that child would be in daycare. So, really, preschool is daycare with a more “educational bent” to it.
This argument doesn’t always work, though. If your mom has historically babysat your child every day, then you put your child in preschool instead, a commissioner is much less likely to say preschool is the same as your mom providing daycare.
Also, there are some commissioners and judges who believe preschool and daycare are fundamentally different (different costs, different purposes, etc.), and they won’t equate the two at all. If you have one of these commissioners or judges, then you’re out of luck.
If you and your ex agreed at one point to put your child in preschool, then your ex backs out right before preschool started or after preschool started, your chance of getting costs split increases pretty significantly. Make sure you keep those emails and texts.
The bottom line is every divorce decree should talk specifically about preschool costs so people don’t have problems with sharing costs.
If that isn’t your situation, then our experience has been commissioner and judges are pretty willing to say preschool is daycare and have parents share preschool costs.