Divorce can happen to parents with children of all ages. If your children are quite young, your focus when it comes to parental responsibility issues, beyond the basics of custody, timesharing and child support, may focus on immediate concerns like choosing your child’s pre-school and making decisions about early extracurricular activities. As you go through the process, however, it is often wise to consider other issues that may still be a few years down the road. For example, one common item is the issue of orthodontia. Who will decide whether or not your child gets braces? If your child receives orthodontic care, who will pay for it? These are things you may want to consider extensively as you go through the process of crafting a marital settlement agreement as part of your divorce, especially if your children are already of school age. As with any divorce-related decision, it often helps to have a skilled Miami family law attorney in your corner.
A case that originated in the panhandle shows some issues that parents should carefully take note of when it comes to orthodontic care, marital settlement agreements and divorce. In the case, which was recently decided by the First District Court of Appeal, the spouses had a marital settlement agreement and it clearly stated that the father had the obligation to pay “one-half of the children’s uncovered medical and dental expenses.” However, when the father did not pay for half of the child’s orthodontic expenses, the mother went back to court seeking to hold the father in contempt.
While the agreement was clear about dental expenses, the expense about which the mother was litigating arguably wasn’t a “dental” expense. Unfortunately, the spouses’ settlement agreement did not expressly define the term “dental expenses” to clarify whether it included or excluded orthodontic care. However, the agreement did contain one section, which was left blank, in which medical expenses, dental expenses and orthodontic expenses were split out into three separate categories.