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Medical expenses and child support obligations

Parents do a lot for their children, and one of the most important expenses they pay for is medical care. Even among happily married couples, it is imperative that parents provide for their children's basic medical needs. In some cases, not doing so can land parents in legal trouble.

It is no wonder then that under Arizona's Child Support Guidelines, a judge must consider the medical care of the children in two respects when ordering child support.

First, a judge is supposed to decide which of the two parents should be the one to provide health insurance for the benefit of the couple's children. Usually, this will involve one parent putting or leaving the child on his or her employer-sponsored health plan. However, it is also possible that a separate, ongoing medical support payment can be ordered. No matter how he or she does it, a parent providing this support is entitled to a credit on his or her overall child support obligation.

Second, as there are almost always bills that are not covered by medical insurance, including things like trips to the dentist or eye doctor, the judge will also order each parent to pay a certain percentage of these sorts of bills.

As a word of warning, though, a parent who has agreed to pay a provider must make his or her own arrangements with that provider and follow through on them. It is incumbent upon the parent to seek reimbursement for the other parent's fair share of the expense, and the other parent will usually have 45 days to take care of the bill once it is presented.

Questions about medical expenses are fairly common in child support disputes, and sometimes they can be complicated, particularly when, for example, one parent questions the propriety of a given medical expense.

 

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