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Is a Non-custodial Parent Responsible for Medical Bills?

Usually, the court orders address many of the financial issues that can arise after two people with children divorce. One of those issues deals with the health insurance and medical bills of the children. If the court papers say that the non-custodial parent is responsible for the medical bills, then they are, but the order could make each parent responsible for a specific percentage.

A North Carolina family law attorney can advocate for you in your divorce and handle post-divorce issues like medical bills of the children.

How North Carolina Courts Deal with Health Insurance for Children in a Divorce

Typically, the judge will order one of the parties to provide health insurance for the children in a divorce. If the parents reach an agreement on their own, the judge can approve their arrangement if the judge feels the terms are in the best interests of the children. Whether the parties agree on the insurance issue or the judge has to make the decision, here are some of the factors the judge can consider in evaluating this question:

  • Which parent can obtain health insurance through their employer.
  • If both parents have access to health insurance at work, the judge will look at the difference between the quality and cost of each insurance policy available to the parents.
  • Whether the children will have to switch doctors under either of the insurance policies. 

The parent who pays the monthly premiums will get credit for doing so in the child support calculation. 

Deductibles and Uncovered Medical Expenses

The court papers should specify who has to pay the deductible, co-pay, and uncovered medical expenses of the children. In reality, the parent who takes the child in for the doctor’s appointment or healthcare services will have to pay at the time of the appointment. The other parent will have to reimburse the parent for their portion of the cost.

Here are some of the common problems that happen with medical expenses:

  • One parent pays all of the out-of-pocket costs, and the other parent refuses to pay their portion or wait months to do so.
  • A parent takes a child in for medical care without the knowledge or agreement of the other parent.
  • The parents disagree on doctors or certain procedures, like vaccinations.
  • One parent takes the child to a healthcare provider who is not covered by the insurance plan.

In extreme cases, the court might eventually designate one parent as the decision-maker on all medical issues. Even then, the parents are supposed to talk to each other and try to reach an agreement.

Can a Child Have Coverage Under Two Health Insurance Policies?

Yes. Sometimes, both parents have employer-provided group health insurance, and they want the child to have the benefits of both policies. The divorce decree will usually state which policy will be the primary coverage and which company will be the secondary plan. For a child with significant medical issues, this strategy can sometimes minimize the uncovered expenses. A North Carolina child custody attorney can answer your questions about the uncovered medical bills of the children after a divorce. Get in touch with our office today for legal help.