When parents decide to get divorced they must make some tough decisions about the future of their family. Most importantly, parents must try to agree on child custody and support arrangements. Child support is essential to make sure that children are taken care of, financially. Support is used to pay for a child’s education, housing, entertainment, clothing, and, among other things, healthcare. Healthcare costs in America can be prohibitive. In California, the cost of healthcare for a child is factored into the equation when child support requirements are being calculated. This helps to ensure that parents keep their children insured and keep up with child support payments.
Health Care Requirements When You’re Covered by Insurance
Some parents will be covered by a government-sponsored insurance plan. Others will have coverage under a plan offered through their employer. When a parent is covered by health insurance (which includes dental and vision coverage), the family court handling their divorce will require that parent to maintain insurance coverage for their child until:
- the child is no longer eligible for coverage, or
- It becomes cost prohibitive.
Insurance may be considered unaffordable if premiums exceed 5 percent of a parent’s gross income.
Parents who violate this court order to retain health insurance coverage for their children can face serious consequences. These orders are backed by the full force of the court and considered to be part of child support requirements.
Health Care Requirements When You Don’t Have Insurance
Just because parents don’t have coverage for themselves, or choose to pay out-of-pocket, doesn’t mean they can choose to forego insurance for their children. A court will order a parent to obtain health insurance coverage for a child whenever it is not cost prohibitive to do so. Parents will generally be expected to purchase insurance as long as it does not exceed 5 percent of his or her gross income. In many situations, parents may be able to secure government-sponsored health insurance for their children if they do not exceed certain income thresholds.
What if Health Benefits Aren’t Currently Available?
Sometimes a parent may not be able to secure health insurance coverage for a child immediately. In these situations, a court will issue an order requiring the parent to obtain coverage whenever (a) it becomes available and (b) is cost-effective. Parents who do not follow this court order may face adverse decisions regarding child custody and visitation.
Offsetting Support Requirements
Courts understand that parents may be placed in a difficult situation if they are forced to pay for healthcare premiums in addition to other child support costs. In an effort to make things easier for families, courts will consider health care payments made by a parent when calculating child support. In many cases, support requirements will be reduced by the amount paid for a child’s health insurance coverage.
Uninsured Medical Costs
What happens if a parent pays out-of-pocket medical expenses for their child that are not covered by insurance? In California, the parent who pays those costs is generally entitled to recover some of those expenses from the child’s other parent. In order to do this, the paying parent must have an itemized bill and proof of full or partial payment. If the charges are not contested, the child’s other parent will then be responsible for paying 50 percent of those uninsured healthcare costs.
Get the Help of a Family Law Attorney
Getting divorced can be stressful enough on its own without the added stress of making sure that your children are cared for. Figuring out child support requirements can be complicated, especially with America’s complex health insurance system. What kind of coverage is appropriate? How can you offset insurance costs to reduce support requirements? Contact the family law attorneys at Berenji & Associates for help devising a strategy for your children’s future. We offer a free consultation, so do not hesitate to call us today.