Who Pays for Children’s Medical Expenses After a Divorce?
Child support can include both direct payments of cash, or indirect benefits, such as the payment of medical or dental expenses. There are two major issues regarding children’s medical expenses after a couple separates or gets divorced. First, one or both parents may be ordered to provide health insurance coverage for the child, normally only if the cost is reasonable and the coverage is accessible to the child. Florida law presumes that health insurance costs are reasonable if the cost of adding the child or children to the parent’s insurance plan is not more than five percent of the parent’s gross income. Likewise, Florida law considers health insurance to be accessible if it can be used in the county of the child’s primary residence, or in another county if the parents agree.
Dealing with Uninsured Medical Expenses
The other issue with respect to children’s medical care is the payment of uninsured medical, dental, and prescription medication costs. Pursuant to Florida law, the court can apportion these costs, as well as the costs of the health insurance premium, to both parties by adding the costs to the basic child support obligation. In other words, the parent paying support can be ordered to pay a percentage of these uncovered medical expenses directly to the other parent who has incurred the expenses.
Determining Whether Health Insurance Premium Costs Are Reasonable
Additionally, in a proceeding for medical support only, which encompasses both health insurance coverage and payment of uncovered expenses, each parent’s share of the child’s uncovered medical expenses should be equal to the parent’s percentage share of the parties’ combined net income. The court must calculate this percentage by dividing each parent’s net monthly income by their combined monthly net income.
For example, if each parent has a monthly net income of $3,000 per month, then the combined monthly net income is $6,000 per month, and each parent is responsible for 50% of that amount. As a result, each parent would be responsible for 50% of the children’s uninsured medical expenses.
Of course, parents may also agree to alternative arrangements for the payment of children’s medical expenses. The parents could equally share the burden of those medical expenses, but this can be difficult to accomplish, since it is usually the parent who actually takes the child to the doctor or for medical treatment who ends up having to pay the expenses up front. However, there are remedies available through the court system for enforcement of the payment of medical expenses if one parent is failing to live up to his or her court-ordered responsibilities.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today
Particularly when a child has extensive medical expenses that are not covered by insurance, it is essential to have a court in order place that places the responsibility for uninsured medical expenses on both parents. Plus, whether the expenses are due to illness or injury, a parent who fails to pay his or her share of medical expenses can place a heavy burden on the other parent. If you need assistance with either establishing or enforcing an order for the payment of uninsured medical expenses, please contact the Vanessa Prieto Law Offices, LLC in South Florida and learn how we can help.