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After Divorce, Which Parent Pays a Child’s Medical Bills?

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If you have children, your divorce will inevitably involve a number of important legal and financial arrangements to ensure their care. When it comes to a child’s healthcare, some of the most common questions parents have during their divorce are, “Which parent is responsible for insuring their child?” and “Which parent pays for a child’s medical care?”

These are difficult questions to answer. The most succinct answer is, “it depends.” Like most family law matters, the courts in California inspect each situation on a case-by-case basis and rule according to the unique facts presented before them.

Does the Higher-Earning Parent Pay for a Child’s Health Insurance?

Plenty of people assume that the courts automatically confer responsibility for providing a child with health insurance coverage on the parent with the highest income. This is an understandable assumption to make for clear reasons, but it’s not very accurate in reality.

Ultimately, both parents are legally responsible for financially supporting their children. If a parent with sole custody happens to also be the higher-earning spouse, the non-custodial parent still must pay child support.

In some cases, a judge may rule that a portion of a child support payment accounts for a child’s health care. The receiving spouse is then responsible for using that portion of the child support to purchase health care coverage for their child. If the parent paying support in this scenario happens to be the high-earning spouse, then yes, it can be said that they are technically paying for their child’s health insurance coverage. The key takeaway, though, is that the cost is baked into their overall support payment.

In other cases, judges may order the parent with the strongest health insurance coverage to place the child on their health care plan regardless of custody or child support arrangements.

Who Pays for a Child’s Medical Bills after the Divorce?

The courts are unlikely to allow parents to leave any stones unturned when it comes to issues like paying for a child’s additional medical costs. That said, they are inclined to allow parents to attempt to work out their own arrangements in a parenting plan before issuing a ruling.

Your parenting plan can account for a number of things like a child’s living expenses, medical care, schooling, and more. Parents can divide responsibility for these expenses as they deem appropriate. For example, if one parent is expected to pay for all of a child’s living expenses, then perhaps the other parent is responsible for all medical expenses, including health insurance coverage.

What about a Child’s Medical Debt Prior to Divorce?

When a divorce occurs before parents can pay off a child’s medical bills, this debt must be dealt with during the property division process. In California, both spouses are equally responsible for all debts incurred during marriage, which can include their children’s unpaid medical bills.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

If you are a parent who wants to ensure your child receives the medical care they’ll need in the future, our attorneys at Claery & Hammond, LLP provide the assistance you’ll need. Whether you wish to formulate a parenting plan that takes medical costs into account or wish to fight for a fair child support order, our attorneys are ready to listen and learn more about your needs.

Contact us online now and request a free consultation to get started!


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