Ongoing medical expenses for a sick or disabled child can add up very quickly, especially for families with no insurance. When calculating child support payments, it is of vital importance that current, as well as future expenses, be taken into account to ensure there is money available when bills arrive.
There are a couple of options to address medical expenses when calculating child support payments. First, parents can agree to split all costs equally. Any amount owed would be calculated from a balance due after all insurance payments were applied.
Another option would be to calculate a percentage owed based on the non-custodial parents’ income. This is known as the income shares model. In this method, both parents’ incomes are broken down into a monthly percentage after deductions. For example, if a mother makes $2,000 per month, and a father makes $1,000 per month, then his income is 50 percent less than hers.
In an income share model, this means that the mother would pay 50 percent more of the medical expenses than the father because she holds the higher income. The father would be ordered to pay what he could reasonably afford.
Failure to pay court-ordered medical expenses can result in any number of punishments. They can include paycheck garnishments, income tax withholding, license revocation, or even jail time for contempt of court. Further, once child support arrearages are owed, interest begins to accrue.
Any couple navigating a divorce that involves a child with significant medical expenses can benefit from the advice of a family law attorney.