Child Support Questions and Answers

My ex says that he pays child support so he doesn’t have to pay anything else, is this true?  

A child support payment does cover a lot but there are other additional costs that must be shared by both parents regardless of the custody schedule. For example, each party must contribute to work related daycare, and medical expenses even if only one parent has primary physical custody.  The parents spit these costs pro rata to their income versus the total income.

Does my ex contribute to other expenses if she or he has shared physical custody?

YES. When each parent has at least 92 or more overnights with the child, Maryland Child Support law reduces the base child support but requires both parents to pay the additional expenses for the child in addition to child care and medical expenses. Under a shared custody schedule, because the child lives with both parents, both parents must contribute to the child’s expenses such as school photos, summer camps, SAT tutoring, driver’s education and/or clothing, outwear, sport equipment, etc. (See Md. Family Law 12-201(n)). Not only is this the law but it makes sense also.  Imagine if your son lived with you only 50% of the time but your ex refused to pay for back-to-school clothes, hockey equipment, field trips, tutoring, tournament expenses.  It would be patently unfair for you to get stuck with all of these expenses.

 What about Medical expenses?

These expenses can really add up even if your child is healthy but if your child has a medical challenge these expenses can really add up. The Maryland Code defines extraordinary medical expenses as uninsured costs for medical treatment in excess of $250 in any calendar year. (See Md. Family Law 12-204(h)). Such expenses include uninsured, reasonable and necessary costs for orthodontia, dental treatment, vision care, asthma treatment, physical therapy, treatment for any chronic health problem and professional counseling or psychiatric therapy for diagnosed mental disorders, among others. Your agreement should specify these costs so there is no confusion or future disagreement about this.

Parents may disagree as to whether an expense is necessary and reasonable for their child.  When determining whether an expense is necessary and reasonable, the parties (and if necessary the Court) will consider any recommendations of a treating medical provider, the cost versus the benefit of the treatment and any consequence of not obtaining the treatment or purchase.  It is best to consult an experienced family law attorney at the Mulinazzi Law Office when drafting child support language and when disagreements as to such payments arise between the parties.

If my Agreement does not have this, can I fix it?  

Yes. If you already signed an agreement that is inconsistent with Maryland Law, it is always possible to either change the terms of the agreement (if there is no court order) or change the court order if the change is in the child’s best interests. Of course you should expect some pushback from your ex so please contact the custody and child support attorneys at Mulinazzi Law Office (www.mulinazzi.com) at 401-290-6270 for a consultation. This could save you a great deal of money that is better spent and should go to funding your child’s household.