Braces and Division of Costs

kid at the dentistAny parent will tell you that raising children is expensive. Parents will face costs for basics like food and clothes, but also for extracurricular activities, medical expenses, college tuition, and school supplies, just to name a few items. If parents divorce or separate, a court will enter an order for child support. In Minnesota, there is a particular formula used to set support, which takes both parents’ incomes into account, as well as several other factors, such as the parenting time awarded to each parent and whether either parent is paying support for other children. Child support is mean to cover the basic needs of the child. However, there are often other costs which may arise. For many children, braces may be recommended by their orthodontist. If that happens in your case, you will need to understand how the cost for the braces are likely to be divided.

The answer as to how the cost of braces are to be divided will likely be found in your child support order. Every child support order is supposed to include a section which tells the parents how they are to divide medical expense that are not otherwise covered by the child’s insurance. Minnesota statute 518A.41 specifically provides that costs for orthodontic care is included in the definition of “medical costs.” Therefore, you and the other parent will divide the cost of braces just as you would any other medical cost.

In some situations, parents may not agree as to whether braces or other orthodontic care is appropriate or necessary for the child. If the parents have joint legal custody, the parent who wants to make sure the child does get braces over the objection of the other parent will need to file a motion with the court. The motion can request specific permission to get the braces for the child or if this is part of a larger problem that the parents have difficulty cooperating to make major medical decisions, a parent can request that the court modify the prior order to give him or her sole decision making authority for medical issues.

If you have questions about allocation of medical costs, call us today at (651) 371-9117. We can talk with you about your support order and your responsibilities.