As every parent knows, children get sick and get sick often. Between daycare, school, and other activities, kids are exposed to a massive amount of germs every day. Add in accidents like falls from a bike and tragedies like childhood cancers, and it is easy to see how medical care and insurance premiums can quickly add up to a large amount of a parent’s income.
These costs do not end simply because a child’s parents get divorced. Making sure that a child is covered by health insurance and that his or her medical bills are paid is a key consideration in child support calculations in Washington State. A judge will want to see that the children are protected, and will order parents to pay medical support as part of the divorce decree.
Medical support consists of two things: health insurance and cash medical payments. Parents are required to maintain health insurance for their children, though it does not matter which parent holds the policy. Usually, the parent with the best health insurance will keep the children under his or her existing policy.
The parent who does not insure the children will usually have to make payments to the other parent to cover the premiums. In general, up to 25% of a parent’s child support obligation can be used to pay for health insurance coverage for a child. In exceptional circumstances, the court has the ability to either relieve one parent from reimbursing the other for the premiums, or can order the parents to pay more than 25% of their child support obligations towards health insurance.
Cash Medical Payments
Since health insurance does not cover all out-of-pocket costs, the court will also order both parents to contribute to any additional medical bills not covered by insurance. These can include co-pays, deductibles, payments for prescription drugs, or any other costs not paid through health insurance.
Parents are not required to split these bills evenly. Instead, the payments will be determined based on each parent’s proportionate income. For example, the parent who makes more money could be required to pay 60% of the out-of-pocket expenses while the other parent will be responsible for 40%.
Negotiating Child Support and Medical Care
The obligation to provide medical support for children will last as long as the obligation to provide child support. Accordingly, it is important that payments for medical care and health insurance premiums are fairly divided between the two parents. These benefits are expensive and valuable, and can affect the amount of child support that a parent is required to pay or is eligible to receive.
At Pacific Northwest Family Law, we understand that your children’s health and safety is your first priority. Our attorneys will help you and your former spouse come up with a child support plan that protects your children in case of illness or injury.
If you would like more information about parenting plans, child support, visitation, or any other family law issue, call 509-572-3700 to schedule your appointment today.