The Nuts and Bolts of Being Reimbursed for Expenses Outside Your Monthly Support

            As part of a support action, the person seeking support will be awarded a set monthly amount of child and/or spousal support per month.  However, you may have other expenses, such as childcare, unreimbursed medical expenses, or extra-curricular activities the children participate in that you want the other party to share in paying.  How, you ask is that addressed?  Well, read on…..

            Rule 1910.16-6 of the Pennsylvania Support Rules provide that the court may allocate certain additional expenses, as discussed below, between the parties in proportion to each party’s net income available for support.  So, for example, if Father has 65% of the parties’ total combined net income and Mother has 35% of the parties’ total combined net income, the expenses would be allocated with Father paying 65% and Mother paying 35%. 

          Child Care Expenses:   Childcare expenses paid by the parties, if necessary to maintain employment or appropriate education in pursuit of income are to be allocated between the parties.  The court may direct the parties to pay their proportionate share directly to the childcare provider or one party may pay the childcare expense and seek reimbursement from the other party for the other party’s share.  If the childcare expense is a known set amount each month, the monthly expense can also be built into the support order so neither party has to see reimbursement from the other each month.

          Unreimbursed Medical Expenses:   The unreimbursed medical expenses of the party receiving support as well as the unreimbursed medical expenses for the children are also to be allocated between the parties in proportion to their net monthly incomes, after the party receiving support pays the first $250 in expenses per year, per person.  So for example, if Mother is receiving support for herself and two children, she must pay the first $250 in yearly expenses for herself and the first $250 in yearly expenses for each child before she can seek reimbursement from Father. If the support order is entered during the year, the $250 per person deduction will be prorated.   

“Medical expenses” include insurance co-payments and deductibles and all expenses incurred for reasonable and necessary medical services and supplies, including but not limited to surgical, dental and optical services, and orthodontia.  Medical expenses do not include cosmetic, chiropractic, psychiatric, psychological, or other services unless specifically directed in the court order.  Therefore, it is very important if your or your children have therapy or other psychological expense specifically to request that those expenses are included in your support order to be allocated.  Otherwise, the court will not do so.  There is a presumption in the support guidelines which permits a Court to order psychological expenses retroactively but you should not take the chance that it will do so. 

The rules also provide that a party seeking reimbursement for unreimbursed medical expenses must provide the other party with documentation of the expenses, such as a receipt or an invoice, promptly upon receipt but no later than March 31st of the year following the calendar year in which the final bill was received by the party seeking allocation.  The court has the discretion to disallow reimbursement of an expense if documentation was not timely provided to the other party.  Also, if the court determines that out-of-network medical expenses were not obtained due to a medical emergency or other compelling factors, the court may decline to assess the expenses against the other party. 

Private School or Summer Camp

            If the Court determines that private school or summer camp is reasonable under the parties’ circumstances/lifestyle, the private school/summer camp expense will also be apportioned based on the net incomes of the parties. 

            The Rule also provides that “other additional expenses” may be apportioned if:

  • The expense is related to the child’s educational, extra-curricular, or development activities; and
  • Is reasonable under the parties’ circumstances.

These “other additional expenses” may be included in or excluded from the basic child support obligation, paid directly to the service provider, or paid directly by either party.  The same requirements for the submission of unreimbursed medical expenses and the March 31 deadline are applicable.

Practical Tips to Make Sure You Are Reimbursed:

  • Make sure you keep getting a bill and receipt for your payment, which should include a credit card charge, bank statement, and/or canceled check.
  • Do not wait until March 31 to send your expenses for reimbursement to the other party for the prior year.  Send expenses monthly or quarterly at the least.
  • Send the request with a letter by certified mail, and return receipt requested to the other party with a clear list of what expenses you are seeking reimbursement for.  Make sure to list the expenses separately for yourself and for each child (and separate the medical expenses from the other expenses) as you have to deduct the first $250 in medical expenses per year for each of you before seeking reimbursement.  Attach all receipts and payments in order behind each expense so your packet is easy to follow and so if you have to enforce the order, you have proof of the mailing and all of the backup documents.  Ask that you be reimbursed in 30 days.
  • If you are not reimbursed in 30 days, you can seek enforcement through your Domestic Relations Office.

The process for getting reimbursed for expenses should be straightforward, but practically speaking I see countless parties fighting over the payment of expenses because they have not submitted their documents to the other party or the court in a clear and understandable manner.  Hopefully, if you follow these guidelines it will be smooth sailing!

By Dori F. Green, Esquire

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