Health care for children is expensive. If your children are in daycare or in school, you are well aware that they are exposed to cesspool of germs on a daily basis, leading to many random doctor appointments and clinic visits throughout the school year. If your child has any health emergency, you are aware that taking a child to the emergency room for any reason will result in an enormous medical bill. And if your child has any form of ongoing medical condition or specialized needs, you understand that medical care can become downright unaffordable on your own.
Courts May Enter Orders for Medical Support of Minor Children
In addition to standard child support, the law recognizes that children have medical needs and that courts must consider the expenses of paying for their medical care. While parents and legal caretakers are free to enter into agreements regarding the medical care support of their children, General Statute Section 50-13.11 envisions scenarios when courts have to get involved and enter orders.
Absent an agreement, North Carolina courts have the discretion to order parents or other responsible people to provide for the medical support of a child. This may include one party to bear the costs alone; but more realistically, courts will split the costs between the parents of “medical, hospital, dental, or other health care related expenses”.
In addition, courts are required to enter orders regarding health insurance for a child. This will usually be an order for one parent to obtain and maintain monthly health insurance for the child. The court can either order a parent to obtain a health insurance at a “reasonable cost” to the parent—which should be no more than 5% of the parent’s gross income. If health insurance is unavailable at a reasonable cost, then the parent will be ordered to obtain insurance as soon as it becomes available at a reasonable cost. The court also has the discretion to order a parent to obtain dental insurance for the child.
To avoid potential conflict regarding the medical care of the child, the court’s order for medical support will authorize both parents to sign off on authorizations. This avoids prolonged fights or situations where one parent needs to get permission from another parent to seek medical care. Further, if a party ordered to pay for health insurance fails to comply with the order, that party will be liable for any medical expenses accrued during that time period.
Contact New Direction Family Law
If you have a child with medical needs, or are interest in obtaining medical support for your child, contact New Direction Family Law. We have years of experience in handling all manner of child custody and child support issues, and understand that you and your child need help. Our attorneys are hard working, highly motivated, and experienced and want to fight for you and your child. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment, or contact us online at our website.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law