Anyone who has a child knows that raising children is expensive. When the parents of a minor child get divorced, the costs associated with raising the child must be formally divided between the parents. Typically, that means that one parent pays child support to the other parent. Who pays for the child’s health insurance and uninsured medical expenses though? To help answer that question, a Murfreesboro child custody attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby discusses how health insurance premiums and uninsured medical expenses are handled in a Tennessee divorce.
Understanding the Terminology
In Tennessee, the terms “custodial” and “non-custodial” are no longer used when referring to a parent’s status with regard to a minor child. Instead, the parent who pays child support is typically the “Alternative Residential Parent (ARP)” while the parent who receives child support is usually the “Primary Residential Parent (PRP).” The PRP is the parent with whom the child lives the majority of the time while the ARP is the parent who exercises “parenting time” with the child.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
Child support represents the ARP’s basic financial contribution to the child’s routine living expenses post-divorce. Because both parents are required to contribute to the cost of raising the child, the income of both parents is combined into a theoretical “pot.” Each parent is assigned a percentage of the pot. For example, if you earn $4,000 a month and your spouse earns $8,000, there is a combined total of $12,000 available to the child. Your share of the total is 33 percent and your spouse’s share is 67 percent. At this point, you must refer to the Guidelines to determine how much of the combined income should be made available to the child. Your share is 33 percent of that amount and your spouse’s share is 67 percent. For instance, if the Guidelines indicate that $1,200 is available for the child, your share is $400 and your spouse’s share is $800. If you are the PRP, that $800 would be paid in the form of child support.
Who Pays for Health Insurance and Uninsured Medical Expenses?
Child support is intended to be used to help pay for routine necessities, such as housing, food, and clothing. The cost of health insurance for the child is not intended to be paid out of the basic child support. The cost is, however, often taken into account when calculating child support. At the time the parents go through the divorce proceedings, the issue of health insurance is usually addressed. Ideally, the child will remain covered by an existing insurance plan or whichever parent has the ability to include the child on an existing health insurance policy should do so as long as the cost is reasonable. If the PRP pays the premiums, the amount is added into the child support calculations. If the ARP pays for health insurance, he/she receives a credit for doing so when calculating child support. If your divorce decree includes a provision requiring you to maintain health insurance for your child, it is important to understand that the provision is considered an order of the court. Failing to maintain that coverage, therefore, is a violation of a court order.
Even the best health insurance policy doesn’t cover everything. As such, there will be uninsured medical expenses relating to the child. As a general rule, those expenses are handled using the same incomes share model as the determination of child support uses. Using the example above, the PRP would pay 33 percent of those expenses and the ARP would pay 67 percent. Is it fairly common, however, for the PRP to be responsible for a small “deductible” before the cost-sharing kicks in. For instance, the PRP might be responsible for the first $200 of uninsured medical expenses every year before the parent split the cost.
Contact a Murfreesboro Child Custody Attorney
If you have additional questions about expenses related to the children post-divorce in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro child custody attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.