Consider out-of-pocket medical costs when determining child support

Divorcing parents often struggle to find a workable parenting plan that accounts not only for the child's needs, but also for each parent's financial ability to meet those needs.

These matters can become particularly complicated when a child's medical expenses are not covered by insurance. In terms of child support obligations, these medical expenses are called "extraordinary" expenses, and they can be accounted for in a child support order.

Who is responsible for covering "extraordinary" expenses?

One or both parents may be responsible for covering out-of-pocket medical expenses. Depending on what your insurance policy covers, out-of-pocket costs may include anything from deductibles, co-pays and prescriptions to dental and vision costs, and it is important to understand how these costs get allocated to each parent.

Every family and financial situation is different, and how much each parent must pay depends largely on each parent's individual income. That is why an accurate valuation of your and the other parent's financial situation is crucial if you want your child support arrangement to be fair. Your child support order should specifically include how much each parent will pay in terms of extraordinary medical expenses.

In general, child support amounts and schedules are determined with the use of the state's child support guidelines, and when making child support determinations, the court will prioritize the child's best interests over the parents' wishes or willingness to pay.

Additionally, the child support order may need to be modified if the terms of the original order do not adequately address your child's current medical condition. It is important to understand, though, that modification of a child support order must be approved by the court.

Bottom line: be sure to account for out-of-pocket medical expenses when negotiating a fair divorce settlement.

For more on these matters, please see our Texas divorce overview.

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