Divorce is a challenging and emotional process, especially when children are involved. Beyond the emotional turmoil, divorcing parents must also deal with practical issues like child custody, support, and healthcare. In Tennessee, understanding how health insurance premiums and uninsured medical expenses for children are handled during divorce is crucial for both parents’ and children’s well-being.
This article will explore the intricacies of managing these vital aspects of child support in a Tennessee divorce. Learn who is responsible for paying health insurance premiums for children and additional medical expenses that may arise.
Health Insurance Premiums for Children In Tennessee
As in many other states, divorcing parents are typically required to provide health insurance coverage for their children. This is often part of the child support arrangement, ensuring children have access to necessary medical care. The parent responsible for providing health insurance is known as the “obligor.”
Determining the Obligor
The court typically designates the parent responsible for providing health insurance coverage. This decision is often based on various factors, including each parent’s employment situation and access to affordable coverage. The court may consider:
- Availability of employer-sponsored insurance — If one parent has access to affordable employer-sponsored health insurance, they may be designated as the obligor.
- Cost of insurance — The court will assess the cost of health insurance premiums for the children and assign the obligation accordingly.
- Existing coverage — If one parent already has health insurance that covers the children, the court may decide to continue that coverage.
Child Support and Health Insurance
Child support is issued to ensure the child has the necessities of life, such as clothing, food, and a place to live. Health insurance costs are considered separate from child support, and child support payments are not expected to be used to pay health insurance premiums.
Tennessee Child Support Guidelines state if a parent can obtain the child’s health insurance at a “reasonable cost,” the cost of the child’s portion of the premium will be considered when calculating child support payments. “Reasonable cost” is determined to be a cost that doesn’t exceed five percent of the parent’s income providing health insurance.
Sharing Premium Costs
The non-obligor parent, known as the “obligee,” is usually required to contribute to the cost of health insurance premiums for the children. The court will determine the percentage of the premium that each parent is responsible for based on their respective incomes and financial circumstances.
Enforcement of Health Insurance Coverage
Once the court has determined the obligor and the cost-sharing arrangement, it will include these details in the divorce decree or child support order. Failure to provide health insurance coverage as ordered by the court can result in legal consequences, including fines or other penalties.
Uninsured Medical Expenses for Children In Tennessee
Uninsured medical expenses refer to healthcare costs not covered by health insurance. These expenses can include deductibles, co-pays, prescription medications, dental care, and other medical expenses not fully covered by the insurance plan.
Responsibility for Uninsured Medical Expenses
Tennessee law typically requires both parents to share the responsibility for uninsured medical expenses incurred for their children. This means that both parents must contribute to these expenses in addition to any child support payments.
Determining the Sharing Percentage
The court will establish a specific percentage for each parent’s contribution towards uninsured medical expenses. This percentage is typically based on each parent’s income and financial situation.
Documentation and Reimbursement
To ensure transparency and accountability, it’s crucial to maintain thorough documentation of uninsured medical expenses. Parents should keep copies of bills, receipts, and other relevant records. When an uninsured medical expense arises, the parent incurring the cost should notify the other parent promptly.
- Reimbursement Process — Typically, the parent who pays the uninsured medical expense will request reimbursement from the other parent, providing documentation of the expense. The court’s order should outline the process for reimbursement.
- Disagreements — If the parents disagree about the necessity or reasonableness of an uninsured medical expense, they may need to seek resolution through mediation or the court system.
Addressing Extraordinary Medical Expenses for Children In Tennessee
In some cases, children may require medical care beyond routine expenses. These are often referred to as “extraordinary medical expenses.” These expenses may include surgeries, hospitalizations, or other significant medical interventions.
- Allocating Extraordinary Medical Expenses — The court will specify how extraordinary medical expenses are allocated between the parents. These expenses are typically shared in the same proportion as the regular uninsured medical expenses.
- Emergency Expenses — In the case of emergency medical expenses, parents must communicate and make decisions promptly. The court may later review these expenses to ensure they were necessary and reasonable.
Turn to Attorney Hunter Fowler for a Divorce Attorney You Can Trust
Navigating health insurance premiums and uninsured medical expenses for children in a Tennessee divorce can be complex and emotionally charged. However, understanding the legal requirements and your responsibilities as a parent is essential for the well-being of your children.
Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that children have access to the healthcare they need during and after a divorce. Clear communication, cooperation, and adherence to court orders are key to successfully managing health insurance and medical expenses for your children in a Tennessee divorce.
Attorney Hunter Fowler knows that you want what’s best for your children. That’s why he prioritizes your children’s and your family’s needs throughout the divorce process. Hunter is an expert at creating and modifying parenting plans for his clients. He has created dozens of parenting plans to ensure fairness to both parents while keeping your child’s best interest at the forefront.
Contact us today for a consultation.