Are Medical Bills Included in Child Support?

Ensuring your child’s basic needs are met ranks among the primary concerns for most parents amid a Texas divorce or child custody case. It’s vital to remember that such cases encompass various aspects, including children, finances, home, and other pertinent subjects based on the case type. Consequently, it’s common for crucial issues like unreimbursed medical expenses in Texas child support to become overlooked, diverting focus from priorities. I typically advise parents to vigilantly monitor each aspect of their case, particularly emphasizing each parent’s rights, duties, and ability to care for their children post-divorce or post-child custody case.

When ensuring that the necessities of life are provided for your children, most people prioritize child support as it covers these expenses, making it a major focus of a divorce or child custody case. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may ultimately follow the guidelines as laid forth in the Texas family code for child support. Depending on the number of children you have before the court and the paying parents’ net monthly income, it is not difficult to determine a basic level of child support based on a percentage of this monthly income.

Child support obligations: Factors and flexibility

By the same token, your circumstances may require either additional or lesser amounts of child support. For instance, if you end up being the parent responsible for paying child support and your ex-spouse earns significantly more money than you do, then your obligation to pay child support may be minimal. Similarly, if your child has a special need or if your income significantly exceeds that of your ex-spouse, your obligation to pay child support may increase, surpassing the guidelines outlined in the Texas family code.

No matter what circumstances you and your family find yourselves in, it is important for you to keep in mind that there is a range of possibilities for you to experience in a divorce or child custody case. One of the major concerns that many parents have about child support is whether child support will help cover extra costs at random intervals during the year. As we approach a full year of this pandemic, one concern may involve periodically paying medical bills.

In today’s blog post, I aim to discuss the inclusion of medical bills in a family court order and what you need to be aware of regarding outcomes related to child support, medical bills, and health insurance for your children after your case has concluded. A straightforward and reasonable question to ask is whether child support will cover these medical bills or if an additional provision in your family court orders will address this topic instead.

Medical support for Texas families

In addition to child support, the court may order your Co-parent to provide medical support to cover the costs of health insurance and other expenses not covered by insurance for your child. If your Co-parent is responsible for medical support, they may need to provide it through traditional health insurance coverage for your child, pay cash for medical expenses if your child is on Medicaid, or reimburse you for the cost of health insurance provided by your employer.

In addition to the specified form of medical support, the court would also order your Co-parent to pay child support. Texas requires your Co-parent to only pay medical support based on reasonable insurance coverage costs for your child. In most cases, reasonable cost means the cost of health insurance that does not go over 9% of their annual resources. Keep in mind that your child’s needs may exceed this number, which requires additional negotiation during mediation of your child custody or divorce case.

When it comes to uninsured portions of medical bills, it is typical for you and your Co-parent to split these costs evenly. If one of you earns significantly more money than the other or is in a better position to pay a larger portion of these uninsured bills, then that should also become a part of your negotiation or trial strategy. The 50% figure that I just presented to you represents only a typical amount agreed upon by parents in a fairly standard divorce or child custody case.

Dental support for Texas families

Similar to medical support, dental support aims to address the financial gap between expenses related to medical or dental needs and the income limitations of the primary conservator. In recent years, Texas courts have mandated including a provision in any court order requiring one parent to provide dental support. As we previously noted with medical support, they consider reasonable dental insurance costs. If your child is on Medicaid, your Co-parent will be obligated to pay cash for dental support expenses.

When it comes to dental support, then only 1.5% of your Co-parent’s annual resources can go towards dental coverage. These amounts are in addition to any child support that your Co-parent must pay, and you should ensure to the best of your ability that you understand how these concepts work before the end of your divorce. Health insurance and dental coverage through Medicaid or Children’s Health insurance program are available if you qualify on a needs basis.

What if your Co-parent cannot get health insurance through their employer?

In an age where many people are working on a contract or temporary basis for multiple employers, your Co-parent may find him or herself in a situation where they cannot obtain health insurance through their employer. This can present some difficulties due to the costs associated with purchasing health insurance on the open market. In this case, if your Co-parent cannot provide health insurance through their employer, then you, as the parent who is receiving child support, would then be obligated to provide health insurance through your workplace.

Your Co-parent would then pay you a reimbursement for the costs associated with paying for health insurance. If neither you nor your Co-parent has employer-provided health insurance, then the judge in your case could order that your Co-parent pay a certain sum of money each month to you to cover your child’s medical care. It is also possible that you and your Co-parent would agree regarding which one of you will cover your child on health insurance. The information shared above regarding how health insurance could be obtained or costs could be split would only apply if you and your Co-parent couldn’t reach an agreement in mediation or settlement negotiations.

More on how uninsured medical expenses are treated in a Texas family law case

As previously discussed, your family court judge will order a specific division of how uncovered medical expenses will be considered for your family. These uncovered expenses include medical payments necessary to reach your annual deductible or co-pays outlined in your insurance plan. This is crucial because you will need to consider the amount of money required before your Co-parent meets their deductible. These are all considered uninsured medical expenses for our discussion today. This could be a fairly substantial number depending on your Co-parent’s specific health insurance plan for your child.

But the judge in your case will review the financial circumstances for both you and your Co-parent. Once the judge has looked at the circumstances with a great deal of attention, they will decide how both you and your Co-parent will be able to pay when deciding upon a proper division of responsibility for these uninsured costs. If you earn substantially more money than your Co-parent, then it is likely that you will shoulder more of the burden of these uninsured or uncovered costs for medical care of your child.

Just as we mentioned in the section previous to this one, you and your Co-parent are fully able to agree on how to divide up these uninsured costs between yourselves. It is typical to see the parents in a situation like yours decide to split the costs evenly. Still, as always, your specific circumstances may require a change or alteration of this typical agreement. It would help to consider how your income and your Co-parent would play into this discussion during your case.

How long will your medical support order persist?

Just like we have seen with child support, a medical support order does not last forever. Your Co-parent will only have an obligation under the law to pay medical support until your child graduates from high school or turns 18 years old, whichever occurs later. Moreover, if your child were to marry before turning 18 or pass away, either circumstance would result in the cessation of your Co-parent’s obligation to pay medical support or dental support.

As special circumstances may arise where you and your Co-parent have a child together who suffers from a disability of some sort. If the court determines that your child’s disability will persist for an extended period, they can order your Co-parent to pay child support and medical support beyond the high school age. Again, you should prepare to discuss an appropriate duration for child support with your attorney and negotiate with your Co-parent if your child has a disability.

Managing disagreements on child disability extensions in family law cases

I have seen firsthand how disagreements regarding extensions of child support for a disabled child can make a family law case much more difficult. Think about whether or not you and your child’s other parents have agreed or disagreed over the years regarding issues relevant to their health. If you and your Co-parent disagree on how long the disability for your child is likely to persist, then I would come to mediation ready to present information showing that the disability is likely longer than your Co-parent may think. If your case were to go all the way to a trial, then you may need to consider having your child’s doctor or another witness who is competent testify about the likely length of the disabling condition for your child.

Considering the significant expenses associated with medical or childcare costs, it’s crucial to discuss an extension of child support with the full array of facts at hand. Do not come into a trial or mediation setting unprepared if you and your Co-parent are at odds regarding an extension of child support beyond 18 years of age. If you think that a longer child support award is necessary, then remember that the burden would be on you to show why this is the case. Therefore, speak with your attorney before any of these important events so that all of you can have a plan in place to argue why an extension of a child in medical support is necessary.

What can you do to prepare for negotiations regarding medical support and dental support in a Texas family law case?

The first thing that you need to do is get a firm idea about what sort of obligations will be necessary for the future regarding your child’s health. If your child goes for a yearly checkup to the doctor and a twice-yearly visit to the dentist, then it is unlikely that there will be many concrete costs to bear in mind during settlement negotiations or a trial. In a circumstance like this, basic health insurance for your child will be necessary for there likely would not be many uninsured costs throughout the year typically.

However, if your child suffers from some physical impairment that requires more frequent visits to the doctor or emergency care, then the subject of medical and dental support is a much more important one for you and your family. Begin actively inquiring about the possibilities of obtaining insurance from either your employer or that of your Co-parent. Even if you are not currently paying health insurance for your child, it may be worthwhile to find out from your employer when you can add your child to a plan through work and the likely expenses. From there, you can begin to shop around and see if alternative plans are available for you and your family if you become responsible for providing health insurance.

Effective communication strategies for sharing medical costs in co-parenting agreements

Another consideration that you need to make is how you and your Co-parent will communicate in the future regarding medical bills and uninsured costs. For instance, if your child needs an MRI or CT scan for a broken bone or other condition, insurance may not fully cover those costs. How would you go about communicating updates on bills and things of that nature to your Co-parent? If I were in your position, I would make it clear how each parent communicates bills to the other as day in your court orders.

For instance, you could include in your court orders a provision that each parent must submit a copy of the bill to the Co-parent within a certain number of days by email or other means. From there, The receiving Co-parent would have to reimburse the paying Co-parent any money as outlined in their final decree of divorce well orders or their child custody case. By proactively organizing from the outset, you can achieve significant long-term benefits and avoid placing the burden of covering medical expenses, which may remain unreimbursed for weeks or even months, solely on one parent.

Conclusion

Prioritizing the fulfillment of your child’s basic needs emerges as a paramount concern amidst divorce or child custody proceedings in Texas. It’s imperative to maintain focus on various aspects encompassing children, finances, and pertinent subjects pertinent to the case type. Yet, it’s not uncommon for critical matters such as unreimbursed medical expenses in Texas child support to be sidelined, potentially detracting from essential priorities. Therefore, it’s advisable for parents to remain vigilant, ensuring thorough attention to each facet of their case, while especially emphasizing the rights, duties, and capacity of each parent to provide for their children post-divorce or post-child custody proceedings.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

if you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post</a>; please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the services provided to our clients by our attorneys and staff.

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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, KingwoodTomballThe Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris CountyMontgomery CountyLiberty County, Chambers CountyGalveston CountyBrazoria CountyFort Bend County, and Waller County.

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