blog home child custody Which parents cover a child’s health insurance?
Posted by Thomas Huguenor on Nov 27, 2020 in Custody
The division of your assets and debts during a divorce can be incredibly complicated, especially when you have a child to care for too. While you both have legal responsibility to look after your child, it is not always clear who is going to cover certain expenses. This is especially true if your child has an illness that requires consistent care and treatment, as well as reliable health insurance. What often confuses parents about divorce is which of them should pay for health insurance and how medical bills should be divided.
Legal Requirements for Health Insurance
Parents are legally obliged to look after their children. This also means that they have access to medical care through insurance. Most parents are usually covered by their employers and are legally allowed to add their children to an employee policy until they are 25 years old. These guidelines are often bundled into family plans, which means the employer can subsidize the cost of the child’s health care. After a divorce, a parent may be asked to keep their child on a policy to ensure that the child is well looked after. If one parent removes a child from the policy without consulting the court or in breach of a court order, it can have serious implications for the court.
But does that mean that both parents have to keep the child informed? Not necessarily. During your divorce, the courts may find that one parent is responsible for providing health insurance coverage. Often this is the parent receiving child benefit, as alimony payments can include money for health insurance premiums. However, this is not always the case and the courts can decide based on who has stronger policy.
Alternatively, you and your ex-spouse can come to an agreement on how health insurance coverage and medical expenses will be shared. You can stick to both guidelines to make sure there aren’t any problems taking your child to the doctor. This can be beneficial if you have joint custody. Or you can assign one policy as a primary and the other as a secondary policy. This means that one parent’s policy usually only provides emergency coverage.
Who is responsible for medical bills?
As with health insurance, you and your ex-spouse can split up how you want to deal with each expense. For example, you can split it up according to your income and expenses. If one parent has to pay most of the child’s living expenses, an arrangement can be made where the other parent pays most of the medical bills. Ultimately, you want to make sure that you can come to a fair settlement and that your child is fully insured if they need medical treatment.
However, there is another question regarding medical bills that you need to consider: how they will affect your divorce. Medical bills are a form of joint debt and due to California’s fair divorce laws, they can be split equally in the event of divorce. Even if one parent pays a child’s medical bills primarily with their income, both parents are responsible for the bills. However, this only applies to medical debts that arose during the marriage. After your divorce, these bills are not considered a community debt and you are not expected to pay any additional costs for them unless required by your custody agreement.
If you’re struggling to determine parental responsibility in a California custody plan, contact a San Diego custody attorney at Huguenor Mattis, APC immediately. We can review your custody plan and legal requirements under California law to determine who is responsible for medical bills, insurance, and debts. We offer every potential customer a free initial consultation, so making an appointment with us at (858) 458-9500 is free.