Will Maryland’s New Definition of “Extraordinary Medical Expenses” Hurt Families?

Maryland’s Child Support Guidelines generally call for the examination of the income of each of the parents. The amount of child support that each parent should pay also depends on whether the parents are sharing physical custody, among other factors. As a general rule, the family court does not consider the expenses of the parents because the income alone is considered a better guide.

One expense that is considered in calculating the child support award is whether there are any “Extraordinary Medical Expenses.” The custodial parent is normally responsible for all uninsured medical expenses, unless those expenses are deemed to be “extraordinary.” Extraordinary expenses are the obligations of both parents and the determination of which parent pays these uninsured bills is made part of the overall child support determination.

Prior to October 1, 2019, Extraordinary Medical Expenses were defined as:

(1) uninsured expenses over $100 for a single illness or condition.

(2) uninsured, reasonable, and necessary costs for orthodontia, dental treatment, asthma treatment, physical therapy, treatment for any chronic health problem, and professional counseling or psychiatric therapy for diagnosed mental disorders.

A bill which became law on May 13, 2019 redefined the definition of extraordinary medical expenses. That change goes into effect on October 1, 2109.

The new definition of extraordinary medical expenses

  • The first change. The phrase “uninsured expenses over $100 for a single illness or condition” is replaced with “uninsured costs for medical treatment in excess of $250 in any calendar year.” This means that the calculation is done anew each year and the amount that will be considered extraordinary is increased to $250 for any medical treatment (rather than a single illness).
  • The second change. The new law adds vision care to the list of model treatments than can meet the “extraordinary medical expenses” definition.

The addition of vision care is excellent and necessary. Children should have their eyes examined each year. Many people who wear glasses were first told they need corrective eyewear when they were children.

However, increasing the minimum limit for extraordinary medical expenses from $100 to $250 will be an added expense and hardship for low-income and moderate-income parents. The extra amount becomes worse when it is multiplied for each child in the family.

Parents may be able to argue that the law applies only to future expenses: if the law at the time of a child support order or agreement covered medical costs on the basis they were extraordinary, then the parents could argue that any of those expenses should still be considered extraordinary after October 1, 2019. At this time, we do not know if this line of argument will be successful, as the new law is not yet in effect.

The Fulton child support lawyers at McCabe Russell, PA understand how critical each dollar is when you are providing for children with extraordinary medical needs. Our experienced attorneys understand the child support obligations and fight to ensure the best result for you and your child. To speak with a trusted advocate, please call 443-812-1435 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We also have offices in Columbia, Rockville and Bethesda.