California Family Code section 4062 states, “(a) The court shall order the following as additional child support: (1) Child care costs related to employment or to reasonably necessary education or training for employment skills. (2) The reasonable uninsured health care costs for the children as provided in Section 4063.
(b) The court may order the following as additional child support: (1) Costs related to the educational or other special needs of the children. (2) Travel expenses for visitation.” The section makes it clear that there are mandatory add-ons and discretionary add-ons to the Child Support orders.
For mandatory add-ons, specifically child care costs and reasonable uninsured health care costs, the general rule is that each parent pays 50% of the cost. California Family Code section 4063 gives parents a guide for how to collect a reimbursement or have the other parent pay their share unreimbursed uninsured health care costs. Uninsured health care costs can include co-pays, deductibles, prescriptions, and any other medical, dental, and/or vision cost incurred as a result of medically necessary treatments or procedures.
If a parent has already paid all of the costs, the parent must provide proof of payment and request reimbursement. If a parent has only paid their half of the cost to the provider, that parent must provide proof of payment to the other parent and request the other parent to pay the remainder of the costs directly to the provider, giving that parent any necessary information about how to make the payment to the provider. The other parent will then have a period of time to make the appropriate payment, which is either specified by the court or within a reasonable time, not to exceed 30 days from notification or according to any payment schedule established by the provider.
Even if the parent disputes the amount, California Family Code section 4063(b)(4) indicates the parent should still pay the amount requested and then seek relief from the court. If the parent who is obligated to reimburse the expense fails to pay, the parent requesting reimbursement can also request relief from the court. For both parents, California Family Code section 290 authorizes the proper enforcement procedure – for either reimbursement for a cost already paid, for an order directing a parent to pay the provider directly, or for an order requesting settlement of a disputed amount.
Under the code section, the court may order filing fees and attorney’s fees, if it finds either party acted without reasonable cause. Therefore, it is extremely important to follow the reimbursement process.
In all cases, parents should use the following tips when attempting to collect unreimbursed or uninsured medical expenses:
Keep all bills and receipts together;
Make several copies of bills and receipts for your records;
Provide notice to the other parent;
Try to reach out to other parent informally; and
Follow all child support procedures outlined in the original child support agreement.
For more information on Child Support generally or mandatory add-ons, please contact Bristol & Haynes, APLC.