California requires divorced parents to provide financial support for their children, including healthcare coverage for their dependent kids. There are numerous ways California family law courts decide which parent is responsible for providing healthcare insurance for their children. Further, the court must also determine how to fairly split out-of-pocket costs, including co-pays and deductibles, and other expenses that are not covered by a health insurance policy.
There are also federal laws to ensure children have healthcare coverage. Also, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has some provisions affecting how parents are required to provide healthcare coverage for their children.
Health insurance is a considerable expense for most families. Usually, one spouse has a health insurance policy for the entire family or purchased a private policy.
Under California Family Code 3751, a support order that the family court issues shall include a provision requiring a parent paying child support to keep healthcare insurance coverage for the support child.
When you divorce, dividing assets and debts can become complicated, especially if you have children. Everyone knows you have a legal obligation to provide financial support for your children after a divorce.
However, it's not always evident in a divorce case which parent will be responsible for certain expenses. Further complicating the issue is a situation where your child suffers from a medical condition requiring routine treatment and rehabilitation, which will make it mandatory to have a good health insurance policy.
Thus, a common question our Los Angeles divorce and family law lawyers receive is related to confusion over which parent has to pay their child's health insurance and how medical expenses should be pretty divided.
Health Insurance Requirements for Children in California
It's not complicated or a big secret in California that parents are legally required to provide support for their children in case of divorce. In other words, family law courts will always order parents to pay for their children's medical and dental expenses.
This “support” includes ensuring their children access medical care through some health insurance plan. Usually, parents have coverage through their employers and can legally have their children on their employee healthcare policy until 25 years old.
These type of healthcare policies typically means a parent's employer will subsidize the cost of their kid's healthcare expenses. The court order could be based on a mutual agreement made between the parents to cover these expenses.
If the parents cannot plan, the family court will examine their financial statements to determine their financial capability. In the state of California, the most common family court orders involving health insurance coverage include the following:
- employed non-custodial parents will usually be ordered to keep their children on their employer health insurance policy;
- if both parents have employer health insurance policies, then one plan will be deemed as the primary plan and the other secondary, which pays any outstanding balance;
- parents who are not provided an employer health insurance policy must purchase a private plan covering their children;
- if parents can't afford a health insurance policy, then their child could be eligible for a Medicaid program to cover their expenses;
- if a parent was ordered to provide health insurance for their children and fails to do so, then they will be held responsible for paying all expenses that would have been included in their healthcare insurance policy.
Also, depending on the financial ability of each parent, one parent might even be ordered to pay all the medical expenses for their children.
On top of paying the health insurance monthly premiums, these costs could also include co-pays, deductibles, and expenses not covered under the policy.
The family court could even order that the healthcare expenses of their children be divided between the parents on a percentage basis of their individual plan.
Other Options on Child's Healthcare Insurance
To expand further on the discussion over the issue of whether both parents will be required to keep their children on a healthcare policy.
It should be noted that during the divorce process, the family court might decide to order that one parent is responsible for providing their children with health insurance coverage.
Frequently, when this occurs, it will be the parent who is receiving child support payments because these monthly installments will include money to cover the costs of health insurance premiums.
However, the family court could just decide on the child's healthcare coverage based on which parent has the best policy.
Another option includes a situation where you and your ex-spouse reach a mutual agreement on how your children's health insurance coverage and medical costs are divided.
For example, you might decide to keep both your policies to make sure no issues will arise if you have joint child custody and suddenly have to get a medical appointment and treatment from a doctor or at a hospital emergency room.
You could even agree with your ex-spouse to assign one insurance policy as the primary and the other parent's as secondary.
Which Parent is Responsible for Paying Medical Bills?
On the issue of medical bills, you and your ex-spouse can just reach an agreement on how to deal with each expense. It would be wise to divide the medical expenses based on the incomes of each spouse.
Further, if one spouse pays most of their child's daily living expenses, then you could reach a mutual agreement that the other spouse can pay most of their child's medical bills.
In most cases, keeping the court out of your business and reaching a peaceful and mutual understanding with your ex-spouse normally works better for all involved, including the kids.
In the end, the ultimate goal is to ensure your child is covered in case they need to get medical treatment. However, it should be noted that medical bills are a type of community debt.
This means when you get divorced in California, they can be equally divided, a 50-50 split. In other words, both parents are responsible for the medical bills that occurred during their marriage.
Our California Family Law Lawyers Can Help You
After a divorce, parents ensure their children are covered by health insurance under California Family Code Section 3751.
The family law court will typically issue an order that includes the keep the enforcement agency informed on whether the child has health insurance.
Health insurance for a child has to be obtained by one or both parents and is usually available at a reasonable cost. Family Code 3751 further states that if the cost of health insurance is not greater than 5% of a parent's income, it's presumed affordable.
If you have issues determining which parent is responsible for health insurance in a child custody plan, you can contact our family law lawyers to review the details.
California laws dictate who is responsible for health insure children's health insurance and medical bills.
Furman & Zavatsky have highly experienced Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys located in the San Fernando Valley at 17207 Ventura Blvd. #2 Encino, CA 91316. Contact our firm for a free case evaluation at (818) 528-3471.