One of the most significant issues in child support cases is structuring how the payment of the children’s medical and healthcare expenses will be handled. When periodic payments of child support are ordered by a Houston family court, Texas medical child support must also be awarded. This is in addition to the amount the obligor must pay under the child support guidelines.
In Texas, a court may order that medical child support payments be made to cover the children’s medical expenses or that the other parent provide health insurance coverage. The duration of medical support payments is the generally the same as periodic payments of child support.
Texas medical child support payments are enforceable as child support, which includes a wage withholding order and enforcement proceedings. So, there can be significant penalties and consequences when an obligor fails to perform as ordered by the court.
Section 154.182 of the Texas Family Code provides that the Texas family law court specify in the child support order the type of health care coverage or cash medical support the child will receive. Generally, the order will prioritize how medical support is to be accomplished by:
1. If the parent ordered to pay Texas medical child support has a health insurance policy through his employer, union or trade association at a reasonable cost, the court will order that the parent add the children to this insurance policy; or
2. If health insurance is not available through a parent’s employer, but is available through a different avenue, the court can order that parent to provide health insurance in that manner. Beginning in October 2013, another insurance option can be found at https://www.healthcare.gov/.
“Reasonable cost” means that the total cost of health insurance coverage for all children under the child support order is not more than 9% of the obligor’s yearly resources. Interestingly, in this context “annual resources” means gross resources as defined by Section 154.062(b), as opposed to “net resources” used to calculate child support payments.
The Texas medical child support order must also address how unreimbursed medical expenses are to be handled. These are medical and other health-care related costs that are not reimbursed either by health insurance or by the cash medical support sum. The court decides which parent is responsible to pay these expenses on a percentage basis. This also included expenses for dental care and vision treatment.
For Houstonians dealing with either a divorce or stand-alone child support case, it can be beneficial to consult with an experienced family law attorney. Contact Erik Larson or Diana Larson at 713-221-9088.