Must I pay child support if I don’t agree with a planned expense?

Illness and injury are two of the main reasons that Massachusetts parents take their kids to see doctors. When their children are under the weather, parents often look to medical professionals to provide reassurance, care and suggested methods of improving the children’s health. When children are given serious diagnoses, their parents may be asked to take them to different facilities for further evaluation or for the treatment of significant health conditions.

While married parents may be on the same page when it comes to the medical care of their children, divorced parents may not have the same harmonious experience. One parent may support the medical treatment of a child by doctors and other health care professionals while the other may resist such practices and seek other methods for improving the child’s health. One parent may believe that costly medical procedures are important to a child’s care while the other may deem the expenses as unneeded.

When a parent does not agree with a planned expense for his or her child, the parent may believe it is permissible for them to not provide child support for that cost. However, a parent must first look at the child support order or agreement to see if it is required to pay under such circumstances. Child support payments are for the benefit of the kids, and the preferences of the parents generally do not factor into what constitutes the best interests of the children.

These types of situations also highlight the sometimes murky intersection between child support obligations and child custody arrangements. A parent who pays child support and does not have legal custody of his or her child may not have much standing to oppose a planned child-related expense decided on by the other parent. However, a parent with legal custody over the kids and also pays support for them may have more rights to prevent a child from being subjected to a medical procedure they do not agree with.

In the end, a parent should look at the operating child support document that controls the financial responsibility for the kids. Attorneys who work in the family law field can help individuals review such documents and determine their levels of responsibility. How a family’s child support and child custody plans are set up can have bearing on whether a parent is financially responsible for a cost he or she does not believe to be necessary for the child.

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