Are you a parent who is getting a
divorce? Or, are you involved in a paternity issue that may soon involve child
support? In any case, if you are dealing with a child support matter in
Los Angeles, you will be interested in learning about one very important
child support under California law – it’s called “medical support.”
Like other states, California ensures that both parents are financially
responsible for their children in the event of a breakup, legal separation,
or divorce. But, the California courts cannot enforce this obligation
until it makes a child support order.
Before we dive into medical support, we want you to know that parents are
legally obligated to support their children until they turn 18, or 19
if they are living at home and in high school full time, and are not able
to support themselves.
The mother or father can open a child support case and ask the judge to
issue a child support order in any of the following cases:
- Legal separation,
Domestic violence restraining order, or
Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children (this action is for unwed parents who signed a Declaration of Paternity
OR for married parents or
registered domestic partners who do not want a divorce or legal separation).
Now that you understand what types of court actions can address child support,
let’s dig a little deeper into medical support – what it is
and who’s responsible for it.
Medical Support in California Child Support Cases
Under state and federal law, every child support order in California must
include a “medical support” order. The way it works is depending
on the circumstances of the case, the court will require that one or both
of the child’s parents to provide health insurance for their child.
However, the court will only order this if the health insurance is available
at a “reasonable cost.” If it would place too much of a financial
burden, it won’t necessarily be ordered by the court.
Section 3751(a)(2) of the California Family Code it reads: “In any case in which an
amount is set for current support, the court shall require that health
insurance coverage for a supported child shall be maintained by either
or both parents if that insurance is available at no cost or at a reasonable
cost to the parent.”
Sec. 3751(a)(2) continues, “Health insurance coverage shall be rebuttably
presumed to be reasonable in cost if the cost to the responsible parent
providing medical support does not exceed 5 percent of his or her gross
Section 302.56(3) of the Code of Federal Regulations says that parents must, “Provide
for the child(ren)’s health care needs, through health insurance
coverage or other means.”
What you should know about medical support:
- Under the Family Code, health insurance also includes dental and vision
coverage, not just standard health insurance.
- If the health insurance exceeds 5 percent of the parent’s gross income,
the cost of health insurance is NOT considered to be “reasonable.”
With the insurance, the routine medical care must be
accessible.By accessible, the state means that the children should be able to receive
medical care no more than 50 miles away from their residence.
- The payments for medical support are NOT included in the standard child
support payments. Instead, they are “in addition to” the regular
monthly child support payments.
- Uninsured medical insurance costs (any medical costs not covered) are to
be divided among the parents by the family court.
Special note to paying parents: Are you getting your first child support order? Or, is your existing child
support order being modified? Either way, the court is going to want to
see proof of how much the medical insurance costs because you can deduct
it from your income before the court calculates your child support payments.
This means it can help reduce the amount of child support you pay each month.
Help. I Can’t Afford to Pay Medical Support!
Southern California is one of the most expensive places to live in the
entire United States. In fact, the cost of living is right up there with
Silicon Valley and New York City. That being said, maybe you can’t
afford to pay medical support. Maybe it’s so expensive, you don’t
have enough money left over to pay the rest of your basic expenses.
If you cannot afford to pay the standing medical support order, there’s
something you can do about it. You can petition the court to either modify
or end the medical support order. If you need relief with medical support,
a child support lawyer from our firm can help you.
Changing Child Support in Los Angeles
When it comes to
family law cases, including child support matters, just about everything is subject
to change. In fact, very few family law matters stay the same over the
years. It is not uncommon for a child support or child custody order to
be outdated or to no longer reflect the current circumstances, and child
support orders are no exception.
If your circumstances have changed significantly, you can ask the court
to change how much child support is being paid. It usually makes sense
to modify an existing child support order when either parent experiences
changes related to the following:
- Their income,
- The other parent’s income, and
- The amount of time they spend with their child.
For example, let’s say you have been paying medical support because
you job had great insurance benefits, but you got laid off. In the meantime,
your former spouse gained access to excellent benefits while you lost
yours. In this case, it may make sense to ask the court to change the
medical support order so your ex can now take over the medical support
payments. This is a perfect example of how things can change.
FAQs About Child Support in California