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Who Is Responsible for Paying Health Insurance for a Child in Divorce?

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The divorce process can be painful and difficult to manage. If you're going through a legal separation from your current spouse, you probably have a lot on your mind. Unless your split is perfectly amicable and involved few material assets, it's likely that you and your spouse will disagree about multiple financial and custodial issues over the course of the divorce. In some cases, these issues may intersect and product particularly forceful disagreements. Child support disagreements often produce the most vehement, vitriolic and painful disputes of the entire divorce process.

Since it involves monetary remuneration and ensures the well-being of any children affected by the divorce, health insurance technically counts as a form of child support. If you're locked in a disagreement with your spouse over who should be responsible for covering the costs associated with your children's health insurance coverage, you'll need to familiarize yourself with some pertinent facts before proceeding.

First, it's likely that the judge who presides over your divorce case will require all of your dependent children to carry health insurance under a "parent plan." This is typically framed as a child welfare issue and usually isn't negotiable. In fact, the new Affordable Care Act requires minor children to carry some form of health insurance. If neither you nor your spouse currently carries health insurance, it's likely that your child is already covered under your state's Medicare-related Children's Health Insurance Program.

In this case, you won't have to worry about procuring a new health insurance policy for your child. However, either you or your spouse will be held liable for making any co-pays and out-of-pocket outlays related to your children's state-sponsored health insurance coverage. In some cases, both of you will be required to pay for a portion of these expenses. The exact proportion that you'll be required to pay may depend upon your income.

If you're the non-custodial parent, it's likely that you'll be required to shoulder a greater portion of your children's post-divorce healthcare costs. These expenses will be factored into your annual child support payments and may be subject to change. If you and your ex-spouse are planning on claiming joint custody of your children, these costs may be split evenly or prorated on the basis of income. Finally, the judge who presides over your case may choose to assign your children to a lower-cost, employer-sponsored group plan rather than force you or your spouse to take out a new insurance policy. In this case, you'll be required to split the employer plan's premiums.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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