Apr. 17, 2023
Which Parent Is Responsible for a Child’s Medical Expenses After a Divorce?
It’s a simple fact of life; children will need medical care that warrants medical expenses. They ride bikes and climb trees; they get clumsy at the wrong moment. Even the ones who aren’t that active might come home from Kindergarten with a case of measles.
And because the American healthcare system is a dystopian nightmare, a child in a split custody situation can make things more difficult. Which parent picks up the tab?
Put First Things First
First, if a child is currently in your care and needs medical help immediately, don’t be a cheapskate. Buy the children’s Tylenol. Get your child help first, then worry about the money. If medical help means more than band-aids and OTC medicines, you may have to figure out the best legal way to handle this.
Make a Medical Plan Before It’s Needed
Fortunately, family courts usually have a plan ironed out before it’s needed. If the parents cannot figure it out on their own, the court will make a plan based on who has the greater financial ability to pay.
It may require a noncustodial employed parent to keep their child on the health insurance plan their employer provides. If the employer does not provide insurance, it must be purchased. If both parents have insurance through their employer, they will choose one as the primary and the secondary.
If the parents cannot afford health insurance, the child may qualify for CHIP or Medicaid. Remember that the ACA requires proof of health insurance to claim a child as a dependent on income tax returns.
Joint Custody Health Insurance
If both parents have equally good insurance for their kids, they will use the “Birthday Rule” to choose which is primary and which is secondary. Whoever’s birthday comes first in the year is the primary insurance carrier. It’s arbitrary, yes, but more dignified than flipping a coin.
It is especially true in the case of joint custody. Should the parent with the primary health insurance remarry, the health insurance policy of the stepparent could become the secondary, with the noncustodial parent’s insurance becoming the third line.
Child Support Medical Expenses
A parent is legally obligated to provide their child with the basic necessities of housing, clothing, food, and medical care. Medical care falls under child support necessities.
In North Carolina, the annual legal obligation of support per child is $250 for any uninsured medical or dental expenses. That included those in which a parent’s income falls inside the chosen area of the child support schedule.
The court may also order that any uninsured health care costs in excess of $250 per year incurred by a parent must be paid by either parent or both parents. The court will choose which is appropriate.
Unreimbursed Medical Expenses Child Support
You may tactfully request a noncustodial parent in private to pay their share of the medical bills. If payment is not made immediately, you can set up a deadline.
Keep those receipts! The court will need proof of time and how much has been paid and needs to be paid, and when. It will also be up to the court to decide if the medical procedure is necessary.
In such cases that the court concurs that a noncustodial parent needs to pay, all outstanding bills will be decreed to be arrearages just as if they were unpaid child support. Enforcement actions may comprise the seizure of tax refunds or perhaps a wage garnishment.
Custody Lawyers in NC
Trying to figure out the complexities of custodial law can be difficult, even when you aren’t distracted by the emotional turmoil of divorce and worrying about what’s best for your children.
In this situation, you will want to hire a good North Carolina family attorney to help you in your case. Mercedes Chut has twenty years of legal experience, so you can depend on her to honestly answer all of your questions and help you find the best solution to your problem. Whether or not you take the case to court, Mercedes will hear you out and work hard to get you and your children what you deserve.