Children’s medical expenses can add up, especially if you are the parent of a special needs child. The Michigan Child Support Formula takes some ordinary medical expenses into account, but what if caring for your child costs more than you can afford? Find out how the Michigan Friend of the Court can help you get reimbursement for additional or extra ordinary medical expenses.
Every child support case, child custody dispute, and divorce with children ends with the entry of a Uniform Child Support Order (UCSO), as well as other orders. This UCSO controls everything about your child’s financial support. It outlines who will pay how much child support to whom, when that support starts and ends, and who is responsible for maintaining the child’s medical, dental, and vision insurance. The UCSO also includes instructions about how your child’s medical expenses will be paid.
In calculating child support, Michigan judges and Friend of the Court investigators assume that both parents will contribute to their child’s expenses. The primary custodial parent is assumed to pay for expenses that arise directly. The other parent (the payer) pays child support based on the parties’ respective incomes, the number of nights the child spends with each parent, and a variety of other factors. Both parents are also required to contribute to the uninsured medical costs of the child according to the terms described in the UCSO.
Medical expenses are part of the child support calculations applied to every case. In the table on the first page of your UCSO, you will see a line for “ordinary medical.” This is the monthly amount the payer is required to contribute to the ordinary medical expenses (OMEs) of each child that aren’t covered by insurance.
Every UCSO also describes the annual ordinary medical amount. This is the amount the payee (the one receiving child support) is responsible to contribute each year. In recent UCSOs, that amount is $403 per child per year. However, if you have an older child support order, the amount could be different. The payee must have paid this annual ordinary medical amount to doctors, hospitals, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers before he or she can be reimbursed for any child support extraordinary expenses.
The UCSO also directs what happens when a child has uninsured health-care expenses beyond the amounts listed above. These amounts will be divided in proportion to the parties’ income, and displayed as percentages on your child support order.
The Michigan Child Support Formula says that the payee parent can be reimbursed for additional (extra-ordinary) medical expenses such as:
The annual ordinary medical expense amount is not intended to cover:
Even though additional medical expenses are included in every UCSO, many custodial parents never receive that money simply because they don’t follow the rules for reimbursement of medical expenses. If your child incurs OMEs beyond the annual ordinary medical amount, you need to follow these steps to get the payer to carry their share of the cost.
Before you can be reimbursed for additional medical expenses, you have to be able to prove they have happened, and that you paid for them. In January of each year, create an accounting of all your ordinary medical expenses (such as a spreadsheet) and a folder where you put all the invoices and receipts. Once you have met the threshold, you can start to seek medical charges reimbursement beyond that amount.
After you have met the threshold, you need to request reimbursement from the Payer within 28 days of receiving a medical bill (after any insurance payments). He or she is entitled to a copy of the bill and proof that it has been paid, as well as proof that you have met your annual ordinary medical amount. Send him or her a written, dated letter (email is fine) listing the total amount you paid and the percentage due for reimbursement. Include or attach all the bills and receipts related to that expense. Keep a copy for yourself in case they don’t pay the reimbursement.
If you are owed at least $100 and your co-parent has not reimbursed you within 45 days of your request (or made payment arrangements), you are entitled to file a Complaint and Notice for Health-Care Expense Payment form with the Friend of the Court. A payer can also use this form if he or she has paid more than their percentage of extraordinary medical expenses to get credit toward their future child support payments. This form must be filed within 6 months of the final billing (after insurance denies coverage) or one year of the date the expense was incurred (such as the doctor’s visit). Include copies of the invoices and receipts, as well as the letter you sent to the payer.
The Friend of the Court form allows the enforcement unit to collect child support extraordinary expenses on your behalf along with your regular child support payments. The Friend of the Court has tools you don't have to compel payment of child support arrearages (unpaid child support), from Income Withholding Orders that get money directly from the Payer’s employer, to child support enforcement proceedings and driver’s license sanctions. They can use these tools to collect your unreimbursed medical expenses, and help you pay for your child’s healthcare.
At NSSSB, we are proud to serve as child support lawyers for parents in Michigan. We want to help you and your children get the support you need to live comfortably and provide for all their medical needs. Click here to schedule a consultation with a Southeast Michigan family law attorney at one of our offices in Ann Arbor or Bloomfield Hills. We can help you gather your proof of payment, request reimbursement from your co-parent, and file a complaint for reimbursement with the Friend of the Court, so you get the full benefit from your child support order.