Getting a divorce in California will lead to many financial questions, including, “What parent pays for a child’s health insurance?” While both parents will still share the legal responsibility to care for a child, it can be difficult to understand who pays for what after a divorce. Working through a complicated child support issue often requires assistance from a Los Angeles divorce lawyer.
Does the Higher Earner Have to Pay for Insurance?
The parent that pays for a child’s health insurance after a California divorce will depend on the unique aspects of the individual case. There is no one right answer to this question. Family court judges do not always make the mother or father pay for health insurance. Instead, they determine this financial responsibility on a case-by-case basis according to the specific facts of each.
Both parents are legally required to provide for a child after a divorce. In a divorce judgment, a judge may require both parents to continue paying for health insurance. It is more common, however, for the courts to make one spouse responsible for this financial obligation. Typically, this requirement will go to the higher-earning parent.
In many cases, a judge will include an amount to pay for a child’s health care as part of the child support order. This means that while technically the higher earner is paying for health insurance, the parent receiving child support will be responsible for providing health insurance coverage using the amount received by the other parent. However, this is not always the case.
Sometimes, the courts in California will require the parent with stronger insurance to provide coverage to a child. If this would benefit a child more than making the higher earner pay for health care, a judge could assign this responsibility to the lower-earning spouse. In exchange, the spouse may receive a higher child support award to help cover the costs. Every case is unique.
What Parent Pays for a Child’s Medical Bills After a Divorce?
If a child has existing medical bills from before the divorce, they are part of the couple’s marital debt. Thus, they will be divided according to California’s community property division law. This law states that all marital property and debts will be divided evenly in half in a divorce trial. This means both parents would split a child’s existing medical debts.
After a divorce, the parent who will be responsible for paying for new medical bills will depend on the case. Your custody agreement should include who is expected to pay additional medical costs for your child. This is determined the same way as health insurance; the decision will be based on factors such as each parent’s income and the physical custody arrangement.
A Settlement Agreement May Be Possible
It is important to note that all parents in California have the ability to make their own agreement about how to handle health insurance and medical costs for a child. The courts will always give parents the right to create their own parenting plans, including child support and health insurance arrangements, before the case goes to trial.
You and your ex-spouse can divide your child’s health care expenses as you see fit. For example, if one parent is paying for the majority of the child’s living expenses, it may be fair for the other to pay for medical bills and health insurance. The goal of your parenting plan should be to achieve an agreement that is fair to both of you and that fully covers your child’s medical needs.
Working with a divorce lawyer in Los Angeles can improve your chances of reaching a settlement with your ex-spouse. For assistance with a child custody or support issue, contact Boyd Law today to request a consultation.