In most states, there are a number of mandatory add-ons to child support. What this means is that in addition to the basic child support payment that is paid each month by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent, there are additional expenses that must be paid.
These expenses include uninsured medical and dental expenses, which were taken into consideration by legislators when the state’s child support guidelines were written and are to be allocated between the parties on an equitable basis.
How uninsured medical expense are allocated
Judges typically have a certain amount of discretion as to how uninsured medical expenses will be allocated to the parties in their divorce or separation. However, in the vast majority of cases, uninsured medical expenses are allocated on a 50/50 basis.
Sometimes, the courts allocate the payment of uninsured medical expenses based on the parents’ respective incomes. Meaning that the percentage paid by each parent will be based on their percentage of total family income––the sum of both parents’ incomes earned each year.
In either case, one parent may pay the entire amount of uninsured medical expenses for their children and then be reimbursed by the other parent for their part of those expenses, or the parents might make arrangements with their healthcare providers so that each parent can pay their part directly to the provider.
Problem with uninsured medical expenses
One of the biggest problems that parents who are divorced or separated have with paying their children’s uninsured medical expenses is they don’t want to have contact with each other every single month to talk about who owes what. That being said, it wouldn’t be fair for one party to present the other with a year’s worth of accumulated bills that he or she must contribute to all at once.
Therefore, it is advised that whichever parent incurred the expenses on behalf of the child should present it to the other spouse within 30 days of receiving or paying the bill. Then, the other spouse should give their percentage of the expenses within 30 days of being notified of the expense.
What this does is prevent the expenses from building up and being used to ambush the other parent. In addition, it is another way for both parents to stay informed of what’s going on with the child from a medical standpoint and to stay up-to-date with of the child’s current and future medical needs.
Enforcing the payment of uninsured medical expenses
The payment of uninsured medical expenses is enforced in the same way that unpaid child support is enforced. A person who does not pay uninsured medical expenses that they owe may have their wages garnished, tax returns intercepted, license revoked, and/or be charged with contempt of court.
You may seek to enforce the payment of your child’s uninsured medical expenses if you have made a demand for payment within a certain statutory period of time, and have not received payment or a response from the other parent within a certain statutory period time.
For more precise information on the enforcement of uninsured medical expenses pursuant to a divorce or legal separation, consult with a local family law attorney.