Does Child Support Cover Extraordinary Medical Expenses?

Having financial obligations to your children may exceed what you expect to cover on a day-to-day basis, especially when an emergency occurs. Parents must pay additional costs besides their basic child support payments, including unreimbursed or uninsured medical expenses for their children. Some expenses not covered by insurance are:

  • Co-pays
  • Deductibles
  • Prescriptions
  • Dental
  • Vision

Medical costs that fall under these categories are also called “extraordinary medical expenses” because they go beyond the costs of basic healthcare coverage of an insurance plan. After a child support agreement is established, designating which parent is responsible for percentages of the coverage, additional medical costs may inspire a change of the order and will be modified by the court.

State Regulations of Extraordinary Medical Expenses and Child Support 

Most states have specified their own rules about medical expenses and they are different in each state. Some states expect parents to share expenses proportionally based on their individual incomes, while other states rule that the noncustodial parent shares in payment when the cost goes over a certain amount over the original child support obligation.

Because of the variance in state law regarding medical expenses and child support, it is best to check up on your state’s particular laws to estimate how you will be affected by extraordinary medical expenses.

Requesting Payment 

Parents must contact each other first to ask for payment for medical expenses within a certain time period from when the treatment or procedure occurred. If the parents disagree about the treatments and procedures — commonly the need for braces or emergency doctor’s visits are contested — the court may have to consider the medical expense and decide how reasonable the treatment is and if the parents should have to split payment.

Consequences of Refusal to Pay

Similar consequences occur if you don’t pay these medical expenses as a refusal to pay your regular child support obligations. Unpaid child support is called “arrearages.
When you do not pay arrearages, the money may be collected by wage garnishment, tax refunds, charges of contempt of court, or other methods. 

If you are a parent that is looking into enforcement of support obligations, then you may involve the court after an initial demand for payment and after refusal of that payment by the other parent. If you are concerned about a similar situation, it may be best to contact a family law attorney to pursue enforcement. An attorney, like a divorce attorney from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, knows the proper avenues to go about a child support demand and can help you regain the payments your child needs.