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Who Pays For Your Children’s Health Insurance After a Divorce?

Man giving alimony to his ex-wife at home

Divorce between parents can be a stressful experience. Dividing parenting time and sharing the task of rearing your child with a former partner can be conflict-ridden and emotionally draining. Disputes over financial responsibilities relating to your children can make interactions with your former spouse even more combative. Plus, no matter how amicable the split, many parents who are going through a divorce are struggling to meet their existing expenses and might not know how they’ll cover yet another monthly cost. That’s why it’s important to establish clear rules on how you and your ex will share the costs of raising your child before such conflicts arise.

If you’re planning on ending your marriage with your spouse, you may be wondering which parent will be responsible for the costs of your child’s health insurance after your divorce is complete. Read on to learn more about how Texas courts will allocate the costs of your children’s health insurance after a divorce. If you have questions about Texas child support or child custody issues in Harris County, speak with an experienced Houston family law attorney.

Who covers the costs of medical care for children after a divorce?

Texas parents are required by law, both under that of the State of Texas and the Affordable Care Act, to provide health insurance for their children. The Texas Family Code also states that, during a divorce, arrangements must be made for the payment of the healthcare costs of any children of the divorcing couple.

Normally, the parent who does not have physical custody of the child is the parent to make child support payments. This monthly payment does not include costs related to medical care for the child. The parent who pays child support (known under the Texas Family Code as the “obligor”) is also by default the parent who is obliged to arrange for the child’s health insurance, as well. This is known as a “medical support” payment, akin to a child support payment. The parent is obligated either to provide health insurance coverage, whether through their employer-provided health insurance plan or by purchasing a private health insurance plan, or to make payments to the custodial parent in an amount to cover the cost of health insurance. In some cases, the custodial parent has better access to health insurance, such as through their employer. In that case, the non-custodial parent will pay the cost of adding the child to the custodial parent’s insurance plan along with their monthly child support payment.

The Texas Family Code states that the non-custodial parent will be obliged to pay only the “reasonable cost” of providing their child’s health insurance. Specifically, the non-custodial parent will be required to pay an amount that is equal to or less than 9% of the non-custodial parent’s annual income. In addition to health insurance, Texas parents are also obligated to provide dental support along with medical support, so long as dental insurance can be purchased for an amount equal to or less than 1% of the non-custodial parent’s income.

If neither parent has access to health insurance through their employer and cannot afford a private insurance plan, then the parents should explore government-subsidized insurance options, such as Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In that case, medical support payments will go toward any payments for these subsidized benefits.

Additional expenses outside of health insurance costs divided between parents

When a child has additional medical expenses beyond the costs of their health insurance coverage, these uncovered medical costs will typically be divided equitably between the parents. “Equitably” does not always mean “equally”; instead, it means that the parents will divide these costs based on their respective income levels. If the non-custodial parent earns far more than the custodial parent, that parent could end up paying most or all of any additional costs, as well. Parents can agree in a medical support order that the non-custodial parent will pay a set amount for medical expenses that are not covered by health insurance premiums.

If you’re going through a divorce in Texas and want compassionate, knowledgeable, and effective legal help in reaching a divorce settlement or custody arrangement, contact the Houston offices of family law attorney Maria S. Lowry for a consultation on your case.

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