Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “Who pays for the children’s health insurance and co-pays?”
Who Pays for a Child’s Medical Expenses After Divorce?
As a parent, going through a divorce can be a difficult and emotional process. There are many issues that you need to work out with your spouse in order to create a good environment for your family as you move forward. Partners need to consider many matters such as distribution of property and assets and parents must also agree to various concerns regarding their children. One of the most important considerations is how a child’s medical insurance and expenses will be paid following a divorce.
Medical care is very expensive, so it is critical to ensure that your child has proper medical insurance coverage following a divorce. While you are married, it may not be something you think about very much, but when parents separate they need to make sure that they continue medical insurance coverage for their child. Typically, one or the other parent may continue medical insurance through their employment. However, you should always specify which parent will provide coverage. If parents must pay for insurance, the settlement terms should indicate who pays and how much each parent must contribute.
Medical Costs Not Covered by Insurance
Some medical costs are not covered by your child’s insurance policy. Typically, copayments must be made at the time of service. Some medical procedures are not included in insurance. Partial payments must be made by the parents. For example, if the policy provides for 80% coverage, the parents must pay for 20% of the costs out-of-pocket. Additionally, most insurance policies require that you meet a minimum copay before insurance pays anything. These costs can become high, depending on the treatment that is necessary. Parents should understand how these expenses will be paid.
Define Medical Expenses as Part of the Divorce
Some medical expenses are indisputable, such as when a child breaks his arm. Sometimes, the medical expenses are not quite as clear. For example, when a child requires braces, what happens if the costs are not adequately defined in the divorce? Braces can be very expensive and are typically not covered by insurance. Parents should address these needs ahead of time rather than at the time care is required. One parent may not want to pay their share of the costs and this could result in a difficult and stressful situation for the family. It is best to consider all the potential issues that could arise and address them in the initial divorce rather than leaving them up to interpretation later.
Settlement Agreements and Court Orders
It is best to include details regarding medical, dental, and vision coverage for a child as part of a divorce settlement agreement or court order. The parent responsible for providing coverage must continue to cover the child for the duration specified in the order. Typically, the child must be covered by insurance until they reach age 18 or longer if attending college. The person responsible for insurance could be held liable should the insurance lapse. The agreement should also specify how medical costs not covered by insurance are to be paid. The more detailed the agreement, the better. Changes to the order may only be made through another court order.
Divorce can be a stressful time, so it is helpful to seek legal guidance from a qualified attorney. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.
The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes four Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.
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