Going through a divorce and discussing details like child custody and expenses might be a stressful and time-consuming experience. In the process of figuring out vital aspects of a divorce, like a child’s custody, there are various financial situations you need to consider, like whose responsibility it is to pay for a child’s medical expenses.
A child’s medical expenses are an important item that should be included in all discussions of child support. As with other aspects of a divorce, it is preferable for the parties to come to a mutual agreement on the issue of the child’s medical expenses. If the parties are unable to agree, a judge may order either party to cover the child’s health insurance costs or unreimbursed medical expenses. The experienced family law lawyers at King Law may be able to assist with the process of determining who is responsible for a child’s medical bills and the process of determining such financial obligations between parents.
General Requirements for Providing Health Insurance for Children of Divorce
In North Carolina, you may find the general outline of requirements regarding the provision of health insurance for your child following a divorce in Statute 50-13.11.
Children of Divorce Must Receive Medical Support
Children of divorce are required to receive medical support of some kind, and the court may determine that both parents are responsible for some portion of each type of medical care. The health care that’s required is not exclusive to medical or hospital coverage, as dental and other health-related expenses must also be covered.
If either party who is required to provide health insurance is unable to do so, whether there is a job loss or not, they are likely to remain liable for any expenses. For example, suppose party A is required to pay their child’s dental expenses and party B is responsible for the same child’s medical coverage. If party A loses their dependent’s dental insurance, party A will still likely be responsible for any of their child’s dental expenses.
Statute 50-13.11. explains, “The court shall order the parent of a minor child or other responsible parties to maintain health insurance for the benefit of the child when health insurance is available at a reasonable cost.” This means, that if a parent is in the position to maintain health insurance with five percent or less of their gross income, the court is likely to require that parents get said insurance.
The cost of the child’s insurance will be calculated based on the price of coverage for the child alone. The five percent or less standard applies to the cost of the following scenarios:
- Adding child coverage to your existing insurance
- Paying for child-only insurance
- In the case where getting all new coverage is necessary, the difference between the cost of self-only and family coverage.
Even in the case both parents or guardians are able to afford insurance for the child reasonably, both may be required to endure this expense.
Written Notice of Changes
Suppose party A who is responsible for providing health insurance changes the applicable coverage for the minor. In this case, party A is responsible for notifying involved parties about the change. This must be a written notice, with the intention of keeping a written record of these changes and all necessary communication regarding the well-being of the minor.
Who Gets Access to Insurance Information?
Suppose you’re presently providing health insurance, in any form, for a minor of divorce. In that case, you may be wondering whether or not your ex-spouse is entitled to the minor’s insurance information. Or, in the opposite scenario, you may want access to the information for the child if it is under the other parent’s name.
According to statute 50-13.11., both parties are entitled to the relevant insurance information. If party A provides a written request regarding the minor child’s insurance coverage given to the employer or the insurance provider of party B, the relevant information may be released. Additionally, either party’s signature is considered valid authorization for processing an insurance claim on behalf of the minor child.
Employers are also generally required to comply with the court’s orders. If you get a new job and are a noncustodial parent responsible for providing health insurance, as long as health insurance coverage is available through your new employer, your child will receive health insurance coverage. In order for this to be done, you are obligated to notify your new employer. After receiving the notice, your new employer will enroll your minor child in the applicable health insurance plan.
Healthcare Costs in a Child Support Order
Several different healthcare costs need to be considered in a child support agreement. The first to consider is which parent is responsible for maintaining health insurance for the benefit of the child.
If the parties agree, either parent may be able to take on this responsibility. Typically, the parent who has employer-provided health coverage or who is more easily or affordably able to include the child under their healthcare policy would take on this obligation. The other parent may cover other costs or offer to reduce the amount of other child support payments in return.
Additionally, it is possible for both parents to list their child on a healthcare plan. If this is the case, then one parent is considered to have a primary plan, and the other parent has a secondary plan. If the primary healthcare plan does not fully cover the child’s medical care, then the secondary plan covers the remainder of the medical costs. This type of agreement may affect child support. If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, a court may order a parent to maintain health insurance for their child.
Speak with a knowledgeable North and South Carolina family law lawyer at King Law for legal counsel. We may be able to offer guidance surrounding a child support agreement and which method is right for your family as well as determine which parent is responsible for maintaining healthcare costs for your child.
Unreimbursed Medical Expenses
Many medical expenses are not covered by health insurance. A lot of plans will not reimburse expenses until the deductible has been paid, and other services are not covered by traditional health insurance, such as dental care.
The court may also decide how these expenses will be allocated between the spouses. This is often done based on their respective incomes, but other factors might also influence this decision. Of course, the parties may come to an agreement on this issue to avoid being subject to the court’s orders.
If a parent is required to provide health insurance coverage for the child and fails to do so, that parent is responsible for all of the costs that would have been covered by health insurance. Even simple medical treatments may cost thousands of dollars, so this is a mistake you should be careful to avoid.
If you lose your health coverage due to job loss or some other reason, contact your divorce attorney to make sure you are not in violation of a court order or child support agreement.
What If Your Ex-Spouse Is Not Contributing to Medical Bills?
If you are having issues contacting your ex-spouse about contributing to your child’s medical expenses or they are refusing to pay medical bills or child support, it is important to understand your legal rights. When it comes to medical expenses, payment and contribution are regarded similarly to child support. If your ex-spouse fails to contribute, it may have legal consequences. If you need legal guidance surrounding your situation, speak with an experienced family law lawyer at King Law.
Additionally, it is important to do the following before speaking with your lawyer:
- Document all instances of attempted contact
- Keep all paperwork associated with your divorce
- With an experienced lawyer, you may be able to file a petition against your ex-spouse for payment
Providing proof of attempted contact or refusal of payment will help ensure you have a solid case against your ex-spouse, and the court may be able to adequately compensate you.
Contact a North Carolina Family Lawyer at King Law
When going through the process of divorce, deciding on financial obligations such as a child’s medical expenses might be stressful and overwhelming. However, the family law lawyers at King Law may be able to help you through the process and assist you in making sure your legal rights are protected. This is important in instances where your spouse may not be contributing to child medical expenses. Thinking ahead to future scenarios might help avoid expensive and lengthy litigation in court and conflict.
The legal team at King Law handles family law matters in North and South Carolina, including divorce, alimony, and child support cases. We understand how essential it is to ensure your child receives the medical treatment they may need in the future. Call us at (888) 748-5464 or (888) 748-KING or fill out our contact form to speak with an experienced family law lawyer.