One very important, yet often overlooked, aspect of the outcome of a divorce is providing healthcare to children. Who’s responsible for the cost, and how is this determined? How do healthcare expenses get weighed among other expenses? Here, we’ll take a broad look at the issue of a child’s healthcare post-divorce.
The most general and common rule of thumb in this matter is that the parent who claims the child or children on their tax return as dependents, is the parent who is responsible for obtaining and paying for healthcare insurance. Keep in mind that the parent claiming the child as a dependent is not always the custodial parent, so that’s another issue to consider on its own.
Whether both parents have a full-time employer, and have health-insurance through that employer, also factors in. If only one parent has health insurance from his or her employer, it will in all likelihood be that parent who provides healthcare insurance to the child. If both parents have health insurance policies from their employers, then a primary and secondary policy can be dictated.
Beyond that, there are also additional and related costs to take into account outside of the actual insurance premiums. Consider the costs of co-pays, deductibles, medication, non-covered expenses, and all the rest that factors into a child’s actual health and wellbeing. These expenses may be hashed out as part of the divorce settlement itself.
Another factor to consider is that the cost of healthcare may in some instances be factored in to a Court’s alimony award. Additionally, healthcare expenses for a child will be factored into the Court’s determination of child support pursuant to the state’s specific guidelines. So whether one of the parents is obligated to pay healthcare expenses for the other, as well as the child, and whether those are classified as child support, alimony, or separate matters, are all factors to consider.
Finally, keep in mind that different states may have different requirements or legislation in place which specifically dictate or mandate how healthcare for children after divorce should be handled. Further, the entire healthcare realm in the United States is always ebbing and flowing, and there could be more changes on the horizon, too.
That’s why it’s always important to consult with an experienced and qualified professional in your local area before taking action. He or she will be able to advise you on potential courses of action and what the best decision will be, not only for the parents, but for the children themselves.