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Does the Noncustodial Parent Have to Cover the Cost of Braces?

When you get divorced, your child support arrangement and the amount you pay will be determined based on the needs of your child at the time of your divorce. But what happens when new expenses arise? For example, if you are the noncustodial parent of a child who needs braces, will you be responsible for paying at least a portion of that expense?

In Pennsylvania, those who pay child support share in the responsibility of paying for any medical expenses that are not covered by insurance for their children. The question then becomes whether braces can be classified as medical expenses for the purpose of child support.

The answer to that question varies across states, but in Pennsylvania, it is once again “yes.” It is generally assumed that braces fall under the category of unreimbursed medical expenses, which means the supporting parent would need to assist in covering them.

‘Reasonable and necessary’

There is one stipulation regarding unreimbursed medical expenses that could play a role in determining a parent’s responsibility for covering the cost of braces. State statutes dictate “reasonable and necessary” medical and dental expenses should be divided between parents.

Braces can toe a difficult line here, as some might argue that they are primarily for cosmetic purposes. However, if a dentist indicates that braces are necessary for the child’s oral health in addition to having straighter teeth for aesthetic purposes, then braces would clearly pass the “reasonable and necessary” bar. The supporting parent would then need to help cover the costs.

For more information about how divorced parents must split the costs of raising a child, including costs incurred for unreimbursed medical expenses, speak with an experienced Bucks County divorce lawyer at The Law Offices of Jennifer Courtney & Associates, P.C.

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