Florida Child Support: Dealing With Medical Expenses
Regardless of whether you pay or receive child support in Florida, there are basic amounts that you expect. Costs for food, living arrangements, education, extracurricular activities, and personal needs certainly add up, but they are just the beginning when it comes to the financial investment of raising a child. When addressing child support, parents often overlook the importance of health insurance and uncovered medical expenses. Especially when care is not covered by insurance and one party pays out-of-pocket, an appropriate financial arrangement is both critical and legally required.
Fortunately, health care costs will not slip by the wayside when you have a Dade City child support lawyer to help you understand the key issues that impact your situation. A summary and a few notable factors are also useful.
Florida Law on Child Support for Medical Costs
Under Florida’s statute on child support, parenting and time-sharing, every order related to support must include provisions regarding health insurance for the child. However, the language clarifies that this requirement only applies when the arrangement is reasonable and accessible.
Accessibility depends upon whether:
- The plan is available to be used in the area where the child primarily resides.
- The parties can agree to the insurance availability in another location in consideration of the timesharing schedule
The reasonableness standard starts with a legal presumption: The cost of health insurance meets this test if the cost of adding insurance premiums does not exceed 5 percent of the paying parent’s gross income. This presumption can be rebutted through evidence of factors that would lead the judge to deviate from the general child support guidelines, such as:
- Extraordinary health-related costs for the child;
- The child’s earnings, including funds from SSI;
- Seasonal variations in parental income;
- Total assets of each parent and the child, if any; and
- Any other factor needed to achieve a fair result on child support.
Special Considerations to Keep in Mind
When reviewing health issues in the context of child support, keep in mind some legal factors:
- A court can require the payor parent to put the child on any health insurance policy offered through employment.
- The judge can also mandate that a paying parent obtain coverage through a group or individual policy.
- The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) forces insurers to eliminate enrollment periods when adding a child as a beneficiary to a medical insurance policy. You must have a qualified medical child support order, which generally means an official order of the court describing the insurance to be provided.
Discuss Your Options with a Florida Child Support Attorney
This overview is helpful, but there are many other details involved when considering how to address medical costs in a child support matter. For more information on your rights and responsibilities as a parent, please contact The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane to set up a consultation. You can reach our Dade City, FL location by calling 352-567-0055 or visiting us online. Our child support lawyers can advise you after reviewing your unique circumstances.