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Health Insurance and Child Support

Ensuring Proper Coverage

The topic of healthcare coverage is one that is often debated, and this area of discourse extends into how minor children are covered. The California Legislature ultimately enacted legislation and authorized California courts to consider the health insurance coverage of a child in child support determinations. Here is what you need to keep in mind concerning health insurance and child support.

Family Code Mandate

California Family Code section 3751 mandates health insurance coverage for a supported child, with health insurance coverage defined (in section 3750) as the delivery of healthcare services (whether through a preferred provider organization, health maintenance organization, fee for service, etc.) and vision and dental care (either purchased separately or as part of an existing healthcare plan).

Family Code section 3751 states that child support orders shall include provisions for the child’s health insurance to be covered by either parent that has coverage available at reasonable or no cost to them (the code does note that both parents are responsible for obtaining coverage for a child, but the child support obligor is often the obliged party). Reasonable cost is defined in the family code as costing no more than 5% of the responsible parent’s gross income.

If there is no healthcare coverage available at such a cost, then the court shall include a provision ordering coverage to be obtained if it can be obtained at reasonable or no cost.

Healthcare Related to Child Support

To put it simply, if one parent has health insurance coverage that comes at a reasonable cost to them, such as a plan obtained through an employer, then they are required to maintain their child’s healthcare coverage after the divorce. Note, however, that such healthcare maintenance does not lessen a child support obligation; rather, it carries the same legal weight of a court order for child support and “adds” to it. One can reasonably presume that healthcare coverage for a child will be in addition to what their normal child support obligation might be, and they can also be sure that attempts to lessen a child support obligation through actions such as removing a child from healthcare coverage will carry penalties from the court.

Understanding Your Options Moving Forward

No two child support cases look the same; each child has different needs, and each parent has a different ability to pay. Because of this reality, it’s important to get your child support questions answered as soon as you can. Consult with a child support attorney who can help you understand your unique situation and can help you determine the best course of action moving forward.
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