Are Custodial Parents the Responsible Party for Medical Bills?

By Beverly Bird

Anyone who has raised children knows that the costs of health insurance, broken bones and the latest school-spread bugs can be significant. States take these issues into consideration when ordering child support in a divorce. The burden of paying for medical care only falls entirely to one parent – either custodial or noncustodial – in isolated circumstances.

Health Insurance

Most states will address your children's health insurance needs in your divorce decree. Some, like Texas, issue a separate order. This order often requires that the noncustodial parent provide for the policy, particularly if he has access to coverage through his employer. The parent must typically pay any premiums in addition to his child support obligation. Other states, such as Massachusetts, allow you to deduct the cost of premiums from your income -- and child support is then calculated on the balance.

Unreimbursed Medical Expenses

Medical bills that are not covered by insurance are typically – but not always – apportioned between parents. Rules for this can vary considerably from state to state. For example, in Massachusetts and New Jersey, the custodial parent pays the first $250 per child per year, with the balance divided between the parents in proportion to their incomes. The first $250 is considered covered by the child-support obligation. Connecticut caps out this covered portion at $100 per child, and Indiana sets it at 6 percent of the child-support obligation. Texas usually divides all uncovered medical bills equally between the noncustodial parent and the custodial parent, unless there's a significant difference in their incomes.

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The Child Support Obligation for a Non-Custodial Parent According to the Law in Illinois


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Typical Child Support in Texas

Typically, Texas courts calculate child support by applying a flat percentage rate to the noncustodial parent's income. Although a consistent calculation would make going to court more predictable, courts in Texas will consider the overall situation before finalizing a child support order. Courts may adjust the initial calculation, particularly if caring for the child involves extraordinary expenses or the noncustodial parent has a greater than average income.

What Is Included in Unreimbursed Medical Expenses for a Divorce?

In the context of divorce, issues of medical expenses often arise with regard to the children. Kids get sick and require care. With or without health insurance, these expenses can get out of hand. Most courts agree that the custodial parent should not be solely responsible for paying them, and they distribute these costs between parents. Some states include them in child support. However, in most jurisdictions, the non-custodial parent must contribute to them separately.

New Mexico Child Support Regulations

In New Mexico, the amount of child support is determined based on the principle that a child should receive the same level of support he received while his parents were married or still living together. This requires both parents to contribute to the total obligation in proportion to their incomes, based on a formula established by state law. Once ordered, the child support obligation lasts until the child reaches the age of majority.

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