July 2017 • Volume 105 • Number 7 • Page 48
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From the Discussions - Are vision and dental costs ‘medical expenses’ for child-support purposes?
Q. If a support order requires payment of "medical expenses," does it apply to costs related to dental and vision care?
From the ISBA family law discussion group
When a court order states that the obligor shall pay 50 percent of "medical expenses" for a child, in your experience, does that generally include dental and vision expenses? Or must the order specify dental and vision? My understanding is that the court can require a parent to cover vision and dental as part of an insurance policy, but I am wondering if judges in your experience would include these costs as part of "uncovered medical"?
ISBA lawyers respond
Gary L. Schlesinger, Libertyville. I would not want to be the lawyer arguing that dental or vision or psychiatric counseling are not medical expenses. How about 750 ILCS 5/505.2(b)(3)? [Child support/Health insurance: "Nothing in this Section shall be construed to limit the authority of the court to establish or modify a support order to provide for payment of expenses, including deductibles, copayments and any other health expenses, which are in addition to expenses covered by an insurance plan of which a child is ordered to be named a beneficiary pursuant to this Section."]
Mark S. Rohr, Columbia. I have argued successfully that it is not medical care. When I go to the dentist, I don't think of it as medical care, I think of it as dental care. When I go to a physician, I'm getting medical care.
Also, as I read 505.2(b)(3) it refers to health expenses, not medical expenses. I would argue that "health" is a broader term than "medical." Anyone have a case on this?
Leslie Wood, Glen Carbon. To the courts in Madison County, "medical care" and "health care" are broad and interchangeable terms that include dental, orthodontic, mental health, prescriptions, vision, etc.
Carrie Clark, Rock Island. Unfortunately, while we can all agree that it probably should cover all of the above, I doubt it would. I even include "orthodontia" in my list specifying care, because patients go to a different professional than a dentist.
Cheri Greenlee, Rockford. I agree with Leslie. My experience in Winnebago, Boone, Ogle, and Stephenson is that judges do not read "medical" to exclude all other aspects of health care.