Sharing of non-medical expenses incurred for the children is typically the result of an agreement. The agreement is stated in the Parenting Plan or a similar stipulation. The agreement or Parenting Plan has been approved by the court and its terms made into a court order. Once the court approves the agreement and makes it the order of court, it becomes enforceable by the court. Proceedings for contempt are frequently the means used to enforce a court order.
Basic needs are provided for by the amount of child support calculated using the child support worksheet. The amount of support is determined by taking into account the basic costs of raising and providing for a child that were analyzed by the Colorado Child Support Commission.
The child support guidelines have both a Schedule A and a Schedule B. Schedule A is used when one of the parents have less than 93 overnights per year with the children. Schedule B is used when both parents have 93 overnights or more each year with the children. Schedule A is typically used in a sole custody situation; Schedule B is used in shared physical custody cases. It is assumed in a Schedule B case that both parents are providing for the children’s expenses and that some expenses may be duplicated. In a Schedule A case, the majority time or custodial parent is paying the children’s expenses. The support paid by the non-custodial parent in a Schedule A case is usually higher than the amount paid in a Schedule B case and takes into account that the custodial parent is incurring more expenses.
Expenses being shared by the parents are in addition to the amount of child support calculated using the support guidelines. They usually are not expenses the court would order paid if the parties had not agreed to share them.
Sharing of Medical Expenses results when the expense is not covered by health insurance. The parent receiving the child support is usually the parent incurring the uninsured medical expense and is responsible for payment of the initial $250 of these expenses, per calendar year, per child. Once the $250 threshold has been met, then the parties share the expenses going forward either in a percentage agreed upon or, absent agreement, in proportion to each parent’s proportionate share of adjusted gross income used in calculating child support as shown on the support worksheet.
Reimbursement of Expenses assumes that one of the parties incurred the expense and that the other parent either agreed to reimburse their share of the expense or it is an uninsured medical expense that is required by statute to be shared. Any agreement relating to reimbursement of expenses, or provision for handing uninsured medical expenses, should have clear terms for:
- Providing the other parent with documentation explaining the expense and proving that it was paid.
- A clear statement of when the reimbursement is to be made (i.e., 30 days after receiving a documented request for reimbursement).
- Clear terms for how long the parent incurring the expense has to make a reimbursement request and, if reimbursement is not timely requested, that the right to request reimbursement is waived. This will avoid the situation where one parent saves up receipts for months, even years, before presenting them to the other parent for reimbursement. Prompt reimbursement requests will also enable the other parent to know what occurred in a timely manner.
Keep a paper trail regarding the expense, proof of payment, request for reimbursement and reimbursement made.
What type of expenses are subject to being reimbursed should also be known in advance. The expenses, if of a nature in addition to basic child support, should be subject to joint agreement before being incurred. Absent agreement by both parents in advance, it should be clear that the expense is the sole obligation of the parent incurring the expense and is not subject to reimbursement.
How much to reimburse — apart from uninsured medical expenses, is usually subject to agreement of the parties. While 50/50 is typical, it can also be tied into each parents proportionate share of adjusted gross income shown on the child support worksheet.
The information provided above is general in nature, is not intended as legal advice for your particular situation and should not be relied upon without first consulting with legal counsel.