Although most non-custodial parents only have to send one check each month to the custodial parent, some things are not covered by child support. For example, the children's medical and dental bills such as co-pays are not included in the monthly child support amount. Why not? It is impossible to predict when your child will become ill or need to see a doctor. Therefore, the child support worksheet assigns a portion of these expenses to each parent.
If you have multiple children or children with lots of health related concerns, parents may be sending many requests for payment throughout the month. Today we will explore some tips on keeping track of these expenses.
Review your child support order. Within a divorce decree, custody order, or other domestic action there will be a document titled Child Support Addendum. That document will detail how the parents will apportion uncovered medical expenses. For example, "The Father shall pay 50% and the Mother shall pay 50% of all expenses incurred for the children's health care that are not covered by health insurance. "
Typically within the same paragraph, the order will explain what kind of proof of expense the incurring parent will need to provide to the other parent in order to receive reimbursement and when that proof and payment shall be provided. For example, "The party who incurs such out of pocket expense shall provide documentation thereof to the other party within fourteen days of said expenditure with a short note explaining the details, the reasons, et cetera, of said expenditure. The other party shall reimburse the incurring party (or pay the health care provider directly) for the appropriate percentage of the expense, within fourteen days after receiving the verification of a particular health care expense. "
Using the information above, Casey and Nat are the parents of Bobby. On May 1st, Bobby woke up with a fever. Casey took Bobby to the pediatrician. The co-pay for the pediatrician was $35.00. Casey paid the co-pay. Casey keeps a receipt of the co-pay. On or before May 15th, Casey provides Nat with a copy of the receipt for $35.00. Because the parties split the uncovered medical expenses, Nat sends Casey a check for $17.50 within fourteen days of receiving the original receipt. In a perfect world, this is how it would work
But what happens when things don't go as planned. How do you keep track of these expenses?
Maintain a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet should have a column for the amount of the expense, the date the expense was incurred, a description of the expense (i.e. Bobby's Five Year Well Visit) the date you sent the receipt to the other parent, the date you received payment, and the amount you received for payment.
Send the spreadsheet. Include the spreadsheet in every email where you send a receipt. This will ensure that the other parent knows what is owed and that you have applied prior payments. Alternatively, create a Google Drive spreadsheet and share the spreadsheet with the other parent. You should limit their access to view only.
Send receipts timely. Even if your order does not have a provision regarding sending receipts timely, do not hoard receipts. For example, do not accumulate receipts for six months and then send the other parent a request to pay $500 in a few days.
Follow-up. If you are not getting paid timely (within the time specified in the order) then follow up with the other parent. Don't assume they are just being difficult. Maybe they did not receive the receipt. Maybe they sent you the money but you have not received it. Document your follow-up on your spreadsheet too.
Pay with a check. Do not give the other party cash. Cash is impossible to trace. If you cannot pay with a check, then pay through pay pal or by money order. If you have to pay with cash, then get a receipt.
Use email to send receipts. Although it is perfectly acceptable to make a copy of receipts and send them in the mail, they may get lost. We find that it is easier to scan and email copies of receipts to the other parent. It is also easier to show that you did send the receipt requesting reimbursement. However, if you choose to send items by mail, you should make a copy of the letter and receipt you sent to the other parent.
We hope that you found these tips helpful. Do you have any tips that you feel help you keep track of these expenses? If so, comment on this post.