While most parents recognize the value of children having straight teeth, braces are often expensive. Many parents find a way to pay for the cost of braces, but this can be made much more complex if parents are divorced.
As a result, it is common for parents who have sole custody of children after a divorce to ask whether the non-custodial parent can be forced to pay for these orthodontic expenses as part of a child support agreement. The answer to this question often relies on how badly the child needs orthodontic care.
Reasonably Necessary Medical Expenses
Parents who make child support payments are often responsible for any uninsured medical and dental expenses. As a result, the question of whether a non-custodial parent will be required to pay for orthodontic care often turns on whether braces constitute a medical expenses.
If a child’s orthodontic care is covered by a parent’s health insurance plan, Georgia courts will order that the coverage continue unless either parent requests as change. If a change is requested, courts have the power to order that the child be covered by either parent’s insurance.
If the cost of orthodontic care is not covered by a parent’s insurance, courts will require the parents to share responsibility for the cost only if it is reasonable. If the cost is determined to be unreasonable, the parent who makes the decision for the child to receive the care might end up being required to pay the expenses on their own.
The Reasonableness of Braces
As a result of Georgia law, the more likely that braces resemble necessary medical expenses, the more likely that a non-custodial parent will be required to pay some type of support. If braces are determined to be merely cosmetic, however, a non-custodial parent will likely not be required to pay the expense.
If a child’s case involves any type of discomfort or pain, braces will likely be viewed as a necessary medical expense. If a parent only wants braces so a child’s teeth look better later on in life, this will likely be viewed as a purely cosmetic expense. Because the determination of medical versus cosmetic reasons depends on a number of unique factors, courts make determinations about whether and how costs will be divided on a case by case basis.
Advice on Handling the Costs of Orthodontic Care
There are some helpful strategies custodial parents can follow to increase the likelihood that a non-custodial parent will be required to help pay for braces:
- Request your lawyer to write orthodontic costs into a child support order if you believe that orthodontic expenses are likely to be an issue in the future.
- Obtain insurance for your child. This way you can avoid orthodontic costs from even becoming much of an issue for a court of law.
- If you are required to support any type of orthodontic costs, make sure to do so.
Speak with a Knowledgeable Family Law Attorney
Braces are just one of the often overlooked issues concerning child raising after a couple divorces. To successfully navigate these issues, it can be helpful to speak with an experienced lawyer. Contact Vayman & Teitelbaum P.C. today.