When it comes to supporting the minor child between two parties in a divorce or other family law matter, two different issues of financial support are discussed: child support and medical support.
Many litigants go on the assumption that only one support order will be issued in a family law case, mainly the child support order. However, Texas courts consider both equally as important and order them both in most cases.
What Is Medical Support?
Medical support is the amount of financial support a parent pays for the minor child’s medical coverage. This coverage includes the costs of health insurance or cash medical support, and under Texas law, it is required in addition to regular child support. The medical support order is added to any divorce decree or order involving a child.
Like child support, Texas courts will not waive the requirement for parents to pay medical support for minor children in a family law case.
How Is Medical Support Ordered?
Texas family courts can order a parent to pay medical support by directly providing for the health insurance coverage for the child. Medical support can also be ordered by the court ordering the parent to pay the other parent for the cost of health insurance coverage. Or the court can order the parent pay cash medical support if the child receives Medicaid.
Under Texas Family Code 154.064, the law requires the parent who is paying child support also normally provide medical coverage for the child through his or her health insurance at a reasonable cost. However, this cost is not to exceed nine percent (9%) of the parent’s annual gross income.
If the parent paying Child support cannot get health insurance coverage through his or her employer, then the parent who is receiving the child support must provide the coverage if it is available through his or her employer. The parent who is paying support would then reimburse the cost for the other parent having to provide for health insurance.
If neither parent has employer-provided health insurance, the court can order the parent who is paying child support to pay a set cash value to the other parent to cover for the child’s medical care. Parents are also able to come to an agreement over who covers the child on health insurance, but the above provisions are available through the court if no agreement can be reached.
Uninsured Medical Expenses
Texas family law courts also order a division of how uninsured and uncovered medical expenses will be covered. These uninsured expenses include medical payments to reach an annual deductible and copays.
Consider the amount of money that is expected to be paid before the person who carries the health insurance meets the deductible. That amount of money is considered “uninsured medical expenses” for purposes of this determination.
The court will look at the financial situation for each parent and will make a determination on how each parent will be able to pay when coming up with this division of responsibility.
The parties are always able to come to an agreement on this division, as well. Many parents will agree to each pay 50 percent of the child’s uninsured medical expenses, but if one of the parents makes significantly more than the other parent, the division of how much each person pays will differ.
In addition, often the availability of Health Savings Account or HSA will play a part in whether the parents decide who will cover uninsured medical expenses.
Length of Medical Support Order
Like child support, the parent’s legal obligation to pay medical support lasts either until the child graduates from high school after meeting all enrollment and attendance requirements or the child turns eighteen years old, whichever is later. The obligation will also terminate if the child marries before eighteen, is emancipated or dies before that age.
If the parents have a child who is disabled and will remain disabled for an indefinite period of time, a judge can order the parent to pay child support for a longer period of time. Normally this length of time will be as long as the disability lasts, although parents can agree to a specific period of time if no end is in sight for the child’s disability.
Contact A Custody Lawyer Today
To discuss how medical support factors into your case, please contact family lawyers at Scott M. Brown and Associates. You can reach us by calling (979) 472-7012 or completing our online form. We have offices in Angleton, Webster/Clear Lake, and Pearland.