It is not uncommon for people to assume that child support is supposed to cover a child's basic necessities, such as food, clothing, medical and educational expenses and a home. However, child support can extend beyond that. It can include extracurricular activities, such as team sports, and may even include uninsured medical expenses. It is important to understand this whether you are paying child support or have custody of a child and are collecting child support payments.
Uninsured medical expenses may include but are not limited to: medical co-pays and deductibles for doctor and hospital visits prescriptions and dental and vision costs not covered by the child's insurance. These expenses are called "extraordinary expenses," and are often addressed in the child support orders. If they are not addressed, the parents may need to request a modification or adjustment to the orders through the court.
It is important that uninsured medical expenses are documented, including the keeping of all receipts and bills, as well as itemizing the expenses for the other parent to understand the costs. Maintaining communication with the other parent both before and after medical visits or procedures can only help to avoid complications or disagreements down the line.
If you are responsible for paying child support, it is important to understand that failing to pay these costs is grounds for an "arrearage," meaning that you have fallen behind in your obligations. You may found in contempt of court or may encounter possible wage garnishments, a tax refund interception, or a license revocation for failing to cover the costs as outlined in the child support order agreement.
If you are the custodial parent, you may file for enforcement actions if you have requested payment over a certain time and have not received payment within a certain time period. Parents on either side of the child support divide can benefit from consulting a family law attorney when these issues arise.