Can you ask for more child support when your kid needs braces?

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

Figuring out child support obligations is a complex process. Parents frequently don’t agree about how much support is necessary, which makes it important to have a standardized approach. New Jersey uses a formula that looks at the division of parenting time, the income of both parents and the financial needs of the children. 

Occasionally, parents can go back to the courts and ask for a child support modification. These requests are often either to increase support due to an increase in the expenses to care for a child or to decrease support because of a loss of income. 

Will the New Jersey courts potentially agree to increase child support if your kid needs braces? 

Orthodontia falls right on the edge of medical necessity

Typically, for the court to consider increasing support obligations over major household expenses, the person receiving support has to prove that those expenses are necessary. A big increase in prescription medication costs, for example, would justify a request for an increase.

When it comes to orthodontia, not all treatments are necessary from a medical standpoint. Instead, simply straightening the teeth is a cosmetic procedure. However, if a dentist worries about tooth crowding or jaw development issues that could have long-term health consequences for your child, then the braces are likely medically necessary. 

Even if the courts won’t order your ex to pay for braces, you may be able to talk with them and make out-of-court arrangements so that they can contribute to some of those costs. 

Understanding the New Jersey rules that apply to child support can help you give your children what they need after a divorce.



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