Maryland law requires parents to provide adequate financial support for their biological or adopted children, and this includes covering healthcare and medical expenses. The division of insurance and out-of-pocket medical care costs between parents is determined by the court based, on the circumstances of the case. Here, the family law attorneys at Rodier Family Law detail some of the potential outcomes when the courts determine how children’s medical expenses will be covered.
The Parents Can Create an Agreement
Some parents, through mediation or of their own accord, may be able to come to an agreement regarding their children’s healthcare needs and costs. Provided each parent agrees to the terms, the court may then establish an enforceable order based on the terms.
The Courts Can Establish an Agreement Based on Each Parent’s Financial Situation
If the parents of the minor are unable to come to an agreement regarding their child’s healthcare needs, the court will make a determination, after reviewing each parent’s financial statements, and issue an order with regard to the medical insurance for the minor child.
Non-custodial parents who are employed may be required to keep their minor children on their employer-provided insurance plan. Non-custodial parents who are not provided insurance through an employer may be required to obtain an affordable, private plan that will cover their minor children instead.
If both parents have employer-provided health insurance, one insurance plan may be deemed the primary plan for the minor child, and the other will be considered the secondary. This is sometimes determined based on the “birthday rule”—the parent whose birthday falls first in a calendar year is deemed the primary insurance carrier. So, the secondary plan would cover any additional costs the primary plan does not cover. There is also the possibility that neither parent can afford insurance, or that neither has employer-provided insurance—in that case, the child may qualify for state Medicaid or the Maryland Children’s Health Program (MCHP).
If one parent makes a substantially higher income than the other, the courts may decide that that parent must cover all medical expenses. The court may also divide medical expenses, including health insurance cost, between the parents, with each parent handling a percentage based on their respective income and financial capacity.
Once the court has made a determination and issued the court order, it becomes enforceable, meaning that the parents must follow through with the guidelines set by the court. If a parent who has been ordered to provide health insurance for their minor child fails to, the court can order that they pay all healthcare costs that would have been covered under a reasonable health insurance plan.
An Experienced Family Law Attorney Can Help Parents Come to a Consensus on Healthcare Costs
Discussing health insurance and medical expenses for children can be a delicate subject for parents, but it is an important conversation to have, and a family law attorney can help parents come to an agreement on how these expenses should be covered. This may help divorce proceedings to move more quickly, and with less frustration. If a consensus cannot be established, however, a family law attorney can help to ensure your interests are represented during and after divorce proceedings. For more information about how the family law attorneys at Rodier Family Law can help you during this difficult time, contact us today.