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Child support and uninsured health expenses

Even when one or both parents have decent health insurance, Massachusetts residents are inevitably going to have to pay for some medical expenses out of pocket. These expenses can range from co-pays and deductibles to less frequent expenses that are more expensive, like braces. While all parents will no doubt have some of these expenses, they are particularly common when parents are raising a child with special needs.

While not necessarily part of a parent’s regular child support payment, these sorts of expenses are treated in the state’s Guidelines for child support. As the name implies, these Guidelines serve as a reference for courts who are trying to make otherwise difficult decisions about each parent’s financial responsibility for their children.

The Guidelines distinguish ordinary uninsured medical expenses from those that are extraordinary. While what constitutes an ordinary medical expense can be a complicated question in some situations, they most likely would include the co-pay for a routine visit to the doctor’s office. On the other hand, items like braces would be considered extraordinary.

For ordinary expenses, the Guidelines say that the parent who receives child support will pay the first $250, as the other parent’s share is already figured into their child support payment. After that, the judge divides the expenses, usually according to each parent’s income. So, if the parents’ make roughly the same amount, then they will likely split expenses beyond the first $250 on a 50-50 basis.

On the other hand, extraordinary expenses do not follow a set rule but are handled as they come up. A judge must be convinced that the expenses are medically necessary and are in the best interests of the children.