If a couple divorces, they are no longer eligible to be on each other’s health insurance policies, but the same is not true for their children. Children remain dependents who can be on either parent’s health insurance policy.
Child support is adjusted depending on which parent is responsible for maintaining a child’s health coverage. If the noncustodial parent pays for the health coverage, their support obligation to the other parent will be proportionately decreased. If the custodial parent pays for insurance, the noncustodial parent’s child support may be increased.
Parents are required to financially support their children, including providing health coverage, until the child turns 21 years old.
Health Insurance Is Not in Basic Support Calculation
Determining child support usually begins with calculating the basic child support obligation. The parents’ combined adjusted income and the number of children involved in the support case are driving factors.
The adjusted income is assessed by adding all sources of income and subtracting allowable deductions. Adjusted income is then multiplied by a percentage based on the number of children. Each parent is responsible for their proportional share. For example, a parent with 60% of the combined income is responsible for 60% of the basic child support.
Basic child support covers necessities in New York:
- Shelter (including utilities)
Health insurance, co-payments/other unreimbursed healthcare expenses, and childcare costs are not included in the basic support amount but are mandatory add-on expenses. Extracurricular activities, religious education, and other expenses determined to be in the child’s best interests are discretionary add-on expenses.
NY Law Addresses the Health Insurance Requirement
Parents in a divorce action must provide health insurance for their children. Domestic Relations (DOM) Chapter 14, Article 13, Section 240 states, “Where the child is presently covered by health insurance benefits, the court shall direct in the order of support that such coverage be maintained … .”
The statute goes on to say the court can make the following decisions if a child is not currently covered by health insurance benefits:
- If only one parent has available health insurance benefits, the court will direct that parent to provide health insurance for the child.
- If both parents have available health insurance benefits, the court can direct either parent or both parents to provide such health insurance. The judge will evaluate the cost and comprehensiveness of the respective health insurance benefits and the best interests of the child.
- If neither parent has available health insurance benefits, the court will require the custodial parent to apply for the state's child health insurance plan. Should either parent become eligible for insurance benefits with a new job, the court can order that parent to use their benefits to cover the child.
The cost of health insurance or the medical assistance program is considered cash medical support.
Parents Pay Their Pro-Rata Share
Each parent pays their pro-rata share of add-on child support costs. If the custodial parent is providing the insurance, the noncustodial parent’s share is added to their basic child support obligation. If the noncustodial parent is providing the insurance, the custodial parent’s share is subtracted from their basic support obligation.
Parents Must Provide Children with Health Coverage
New York requires parents to provide for the welfare and well-being of their children. That responsibility continues if parent divorce or never marry. Who is ultimately responsible for health coverage depends on multiple factors. Child support can be part of a negotiated settlement or determined by a judge. Either way, child support orders are enforceable.
Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C. can answer your questions about child support.
Schedule a consultation to learn more about health insurance and other child support obligations. Contact us online or call (516) 406-8381.