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Child Support – Who Pays For Health Insurance Is a Factor

Health insurance paid for coverage of the child(ren) are a factor to be considered in the Maryland Child Support Guidelines.

When divorce and custody lawyers in Frederick, Maryland are computing a parent’s total child support obligation, they include the cost of health insurance paid for the child(ren) see Maryland Annotated Code, Family Law Article.  The other factors which can impact that total obligation are discussed in previous articles: “What are the Maryland Child Support Guidelines?” and “How to Apply the Maryland Child Support Guidelines.”

Health insurance tends to be a pretty painless factor in the computation of the guidelines.  I believe that is probably because virtually anyone can acknowledge: 1) a child having health insurance is important, 2) health insurance is usually an expense that can be quantified by simple review of a parent’s pay check.

If there are disagreements surrounding health insurance for a child they tend to be disagreements about:
1)  How much of the health insurance premium is specifically for the child(ren)?
2)  Can both parents use the health insurance (eg. having cards etc)?
3)  Is the health insurance of any real value for the child?

Employers rarely permit a parent to purchase health insurance just for the child, so the employee parent and the child(ren) are usually covered.  That raises the question how do we determine what percentage of the health insurance is for the actual benefit of the child?

The foregoing question becomes more difficult to navigate the more parties and children are on the policy.  Take for example the modern family where hypothetical mother has three children.  Two of the children are from her current marriage and the third child is from a previous relationship.  She pays health insurance for her employer under a family plan.  The expense if $100 per month and is deemed a “family plan” by her employer and it is neither defined nor paid on a per capita (per person) basis.  It is generally accepted that the children would be deemed to cost the mother $20 per child for purposes of the guidelines.

The value of the health insurance and the ability for both parents to take advantage of the insurance is also key to whether the court will include it in the guidelines.  It should go without saying that a parent with two (2) health insurance cards should give the other card to the other parents.  Please don’t go to court without sharing those cards.  Recently more and more health insurance companies issue only one card per policyholder.  You may be able to mitigate the impact of that policy by sharing the pediatrician and having the card.

With health insurance on everyone’s mind these days, some people are using two policies.  I have never seen a judge decline to permit a second policy to be included in the guidelines.  But, like anything else, I am sure a person who strains logic might not be permitted to include the health insurance.

Timothy Conlon, Esquire for The Custody Place

Divorce Attorneys in Frederick Maryland


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