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Paying for braces

Posted by on Jul. 16, 2014 at 8:07 PM
  • 89 Replies

 

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Question: Is DH legally required to pay for half the braces?

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BM emailed DH a couple of months ago to say that SS13 needs braces, and his half would be $2000. DH paid for 1/2 of SD14's braces a year ago (on a credit card) because SD14 actually did have messed up teeth. SS13 doesn't. Honestly, his teeth are fine. So DH emailed back to say 1) SS doesn't need braces, and 2) He can't afford to pay half. Since the CS increase, DH's budget went from "tight" to "impossible to live", so he just doesn't have the options he did when SD14 needed braces.

BM went ahead and scheduled the braces to be put on, and sent an email to DH explaining this, and that she would be sending him a letter stating the medical necessity of them. DH responded to say that braces are not medically necessary, only cosmetically necessary (case in point is DH, who really could've used braces but never got them, and he's still alive with functional teeth and no need for dental work beyond cleanings).

Now SS13 has the braces. BM is demanding half. DH doesn't have it.

The CO does not address orthodontia specifically, only "uninsured medical expenses".

We're fairly certain if DH continues to refuse, BM will take him to court (and we've learned the hard way how court turns out).

The thing we're both struggling with is, can she really just decide to spend $4000 and come to DH expecting half even if he doesn't approve, made it clear he wasn't okay with the decision from the start, can't afford it, and doesn't feel SS13 needs them? Does he honestly have no options here?

It just seems kind of crazy to me. In an intact family, the couple would just have to wait until they could afford it, if they did it at all. But since they're divorced (and obviously she CAN afford it), she gets to make the call and he just gets forced to pay even if he can't?

by on Jul. 16, 2014 at 8:07 PM
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Replies (1-10):
momof2ex1
by Ruby Member on Jul. 16, 2014 at 8:27 PM
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I have two points I want to make.

I worked in an Ortho office for several years before becoming a mom. I also have my RDA. Ortho was my specialty. The argument that orthodontia is cosmetic is a personal preference. The benefits of correcting misaligned teeth for cosmetic reasons, to me and my personal preference, far exceeds the cost. It can build self esteem for years. For the rest of a persons life. It can open doors. The first thing someone sees (and judges you for) are your teeth/your smile.
Past cosmetic reasons, majority of patients receiving orthodontia treatment are not only straightening their imperfect teeth but also correcting a bite problem that may or may not be hindering them TODAY but research proves that misalignment and closure problems can become more troublesome later on down the line. The best time to correct these issues is when the child is a pre-teen or young teen. Once you become an adult it's almost impossible to correct without the constant need of a retainer. The jaw and teeth will continue to move back to their original position after you've hit that age of no return so to speak.

My second point is that the cost of Ortho and who pays weighs heavily on how the CO is worded. Has dental ever been reimbursed in the past? Did they consider it medical before? Cleanings, fillings, x-rays? Who paid for these types of things before?

I doubt seriously that mom is spending $4k just so your dh will be out $2k. She's still out $2k if he agrees to pay and if he doesn't pay she's out $4k plus any court fees if she decides to take this to court. So I don't see this as a way to just get dad to pay.

If the CO doesn't say anything about dental and dad has never paid dental before - then dad is within his right to not pay for these braces. Or dad can make an offer to BM. What he can pay. Given that he's not ordered to pay. Agree to a small portion - or whatever he is willing to spend.

I think that braces are good for teens. My mom went her entire adult life with a little bit of a gap ... But never smiling. She decided to do braces later in life and that corrected that small little gap that embarrassed her. Even though it really was not that big or noticeable. It really caused her self esteem issues.

I never had braces but I literally have perfect teeth. I have a perfect bite and I made the decision as a teen that I didn't need braces and my dentist agreed. I've never regretted it. Even now - I could use some bleach lol but my teeth are straight. My siblings both had the entire head gear and years of braces lol always wondered how I managed that.
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Birdseed
by Platinum Member on Jul. 16, 2014 at 8:29 PM

Maybe I'm a nut but I think that cosmetic reasons for braces in the US are just as important as medical ones.  I think that having teeth that look nice and mesh correctly are a good thing.  I have personally paid for one set of skid braces and now we've paid 80% of another.  <---that was me putting my foot down. Ha ha ha.

In the US, braces are not just about medical necessity.  Crooked teeth put kids in a "class".  We're not in England.  And I'm not being funny here.  It's just a thing we do in the US whether it's "necessary" or not and it really does make a difference.  I think that the parents should prepare to pay and then...pay.

As a kid who did braces and even head gear for 3 years as a teen, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it.  I could've lived wthout braces.  I would've destroyed my teeth and had other issues but none life threatening.  Sure glad my folks could find a way to work it out.

I will not NOT pay for braces for my skids if the ortho says they can use them.  I think your DH is in a bad situatoin but maybe he needs to get his CS looked at or find a better job? I dunno. Kids are damnd expensive.  I can tell you that.  It gets mor pricey the older they get.


tinybluemoon
by Bronze Member on Jul. 16, 2014 at 8:34 PM
1 mom liked this

No, we have no dental or medical fee's that we are required to pay in our CO.

I also hate this trend of kids getting braces when they are not needed. I never needed braces and my teeth are perfect, as are DH's. If they needed them and BM came asked we would seriously consider it, but not for the sake of getting braces just because.

Mom_2_Ava
by New Member on Jul. 16, 2014 at 8:39 PM
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I have no good advice because we are in the same boat.  DH pays half of all medical costs after a certain amount is reached by BM.  We get no say and it's bull. She takes the kids to frivolous appointments all the time and has horrible insurance so we pay half of most doctor visits we think weren't even necessary ( flu, colds, etc).  She does he entire court thing too.  I do appreciate the importance of orthodontics but I completely understand that it's an optional expense.   

Birdseed
by Platinum Member on Jul. 16, 2014 at 8:44 PM

Is it really frivolous?  If a kid has crooked teeth? Even if it's not life threatening, it's ugly and in our society you are judged by it.  I say fix it.

Plus, malaligned teeth are hard to floss and care for. Which means that in the long term, there's more chance for tooth damange or loss.

I think that parents should plan on braces to some extent.


Polkadotted
by Gold Member on Jul. 16, 2014 at 8:48 PM

OSD had pretty straight teeth, but her bite didn't line up.  It was a really hard decision to make since the teeth looked ok. There wasn't a clear medical necesity.  But since I have jaw problems that aren't getting in my way, but still hurt I decided that it was better just to do them so we're - me- paying the $4000.  It would be nice if BM paid.  We have asked her to. But such is life.

Annawest
by Bronze Member on Jul. 16, 2014 at 9:01 PM

I'm assuming your husband probably still has joint legal custody.  He made it known that he did not agree, so that might cover him.  If she does take you to court I would suggest you do your best to get a lawyer. 

I'm sorry that you all are put in such a hard spot with the finances.

jules2boys
by Gold Member on Jul. 16, 2014 at 9:11 PM

Is there a way for DH to talk to the ortho office and find out if this was 'medically necessary' or some such wording? 

In an intact family, the couple might not just 'wait' until they could afford it.  Too often, even in intact families, one parent will decide something and spend the money, regardless of what they can/can't afford.  Intact or blended families, it happens all the time. 

I'd say he's only 'forced' to pay if she does follow through and take him to court AND the judge decides this was an uninsured medical expense.  But, if DH has paperwork from the ortho that did the braces (or perhaps paperwork from a previous ortho who said it wasn't necessary for SS13), then he can present that in court, along with his evidence that he told BM NO, he wouldn't pay for half, and go from there. 

runinpinkshoes
by Silver Member on Jul. 16, 2014 at 9:30 PM
1) SS's teeth are fine. Truly. SD14 did have crooked teeth, as does SD9. SS13 somehow escaped that curse and has nice teeth.

2) It's the principle of it. There was no discussion as to whether both parents were on board with this decision. It was BM demanding and now taking. Now, when SD14 needed braces last year, DH paid without complaint because 1) she needed them cosmetically and 2) DH had more financial flexibility then.

Needless to say, there's still some bitterness there for him because of how she went about getting the CS increase. So for her to now incur this cost after everything else, he's definitely rebelling against the idea that some third party that definitely does not have his best interest in mind is allowed this much power over his life and his wallet, with him getting no say whatsoever.

Quoting Birdseed:

Is it really frivolous?  If a kid has crooked teeth? Even if it's not life threatening, it's ugly and in our society you are judged by it.  I say fix it.

Plus, malaligned teeth are hard to floss and care for. Which means that in the long term, there's more chance for tooth damange or loss.

I think that parents should plan on braces to some extent.

momof2ex1
by Ruby Member on Jul. 16, 2014 at 9:31 PM
1 mom liked this
Since you never had braces, you may not realize that no one signs up for braces just because. It's not a fun experience. It's painful. There are diet restrictions. Even the stuff you can eat, hurts. It's not fun and just something people 'do' because well everyone has to get braces or they are not cool. It's necessary. Even if it's cosmetic. Obviously if cosmetic wasn't a good enough reason then why in the world do women wear make up, fix their hair and wear jewelry? Or perfume? Or add on any other thing you may wear because of cosmetic reasons.

Quoting tinybluemoon:

No, we have no dental or medical fee's that we are required to pay in our CO.

I also hate this trend of kids getting braces when they are not needed. I never needed braces and my teeth are perfect, as are DH's. If they needed them and BM came asked we would seriously consider it, but not for the sake of getting braces just because.

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