You are probably aware that both parents of a minor child have a legal obligation to provide financial support for that child until the child reaches the age of majority (in most cases). If the parents of that child are not married, one parent typically pays child support to the other parent to satisfy his/her legal support obligation. What you may not be as clear on is who is responsible for healthcare costs and medical insurance premium payments for minor children when the parents are not married. It is always best to consult with an experienced divorce attorney about the details of your specific situation; however, a McKinney divorce lawyer offers some basic information and guidelines for the payment of healthcare expenses for children in a divorce.
When the parents of a minor child decide to divorce, or never marry to begin with, the law imposes an obligation on both parents to contribute to the care and maintenance of the child until the child reaches the age of majority, or longer in some cases. In the case of a divorce, this legal obligation is addressed over the course of the divorce proceedings and resolved by agreement of the parties or by court order before the divorce can be finalized. If the child was born out of wedlock, the same issues are resolved when paternity is legally established. Contributing to a child’s medical expenses is not voluntary. Just as child support is a legal obligation, so is contributing to healthcare costs for your child in the State of Texas. In fact, federal law also places a legal obligation on parents to contribute to healthcare expenses for a child.
The only real question is how a child’s healthcare expenses will be divided between the parents. As is the case with child support, under ideal circumstances the parents are able to reach a mutually acceptable agreement regarding healthcare expenses without the need for a court to intervene. When that is the case, the agreement reached between the parties becomes part of the Parenting Plan submitted to the court for approval.
If the parents are unable to reach an agreement, the court will have to intervene. When that happens, the court will generally look first to see if either, or both, parents have employer sponsored health insurance that does (or can) include the child at a reasonable cost to the parent. If the parent paying child support is able to include the child on his/her health insurance policy, or purchases a separate policy, the premiums paid for the child’s insurance are taken into account. If the parent receiving child support provides the health insurance, the other parent may be required to reimburse that parent for the cost of premiums.
Because there are copays, deductibles, and often healthcare expenses that are uninsured, these costs must also be addressed. Again, if the parents can agree to how these expenses will be allocated, a court will not need to intervene. If a court must decide, the court will generally take into account each parent’s ability to pay when deciding how to allocate these additional healthcare expenses.
If you are contemplating a divorce, have already filed, or are considering a modification of an existing divorce decree, you will need to consider the impact of healthcare expenses if minor children are involved. Ideally, you should consult with an experienced McKinney divorce lawyer before proceeding with legal action so you know where you stand and what financial obligations you will likely incur.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the allocation of healthcare expenses for minor children in a divorce in the State of Texas, contact an experienced McKinney divorce lawyer at The Law Office of Jon R. Boyd to schedule your appointment today.