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Are medical expenses included in the child support I pay?

After a divorce or breakup, many noncustodial parents in Maryland dutifully pay their required child support every month. Depending on their income, these parents may pay hundreds of even thousands of dollars a month. But then they may be forced to make additional payments for medical expenses. Aren't these expenses already included in the monthly child support, and if not, what types of expenses must be shared by both parents?

Monthly child support payments pay for everyday expenses such as food, clothing, housing and school-related costs. The payments do not include medical bills not paid for by insurance. When a child is covered under a parent's medical plan and there are bills that need to be paid out of pocket, these are called extraordinary expenses. Health care is not cheap, so medical bills not covered by insurance can exceed hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Therefore, it is only fair that both parents pitch in and help pay them.

The amount that the noncustodial parent must pay varies from state to state. Some states order parents to pay a percentage based on income. Some parents are ordered to split the costs between themselves, while some noncustodial parents are forced to pay any expenses over a specified limit, such as $500 or $1,000.

The custodial parent should communicate with the other parent as to the amount of money owed and give him or her a deadline, such as 10 days or one month, in which to pay. Parents should also communicate about specific medical procedures because if the noncustodial parent feels that a doctor visit is unnecessary, he or she may not have to pay for it. The court makes the final decision when disagreements occur, but noncustodial parents should expect to pay for their children's medical needs in addition to child support.

Source: FindLaw, "Uninsured Medical Expenses and Child Support," accessed June 13, 2015

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