Parental Duties for the Support of Children’s Health

In general, there are specific duties that automatically arise from the legally recognized relationship between parent and child. One of the legally recognized parent-child relationship duties is to provide a child with necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical care.

This duty does not terminate upon dissolution of marriage because divorce does not change the parent-child relationship. To make sure both parents continue to satisfy this duty, courts will issue child support orders.

Typically, a court will order the parent who spends most of their time away from the child to pay child support to the parent who lives with the child. In Texas, there are statutory guidelines that courts refer to when making child support orders. The amount a court orders a party to pay in child support includes reasonable expenses for basic medical care. However, a court can also issue orders for additional child support, if necessary, to cover a child’s medical needs.

Orders for the Medical Support of a Child

Texas law allows courts to allocate the cost of reasonable and necessary health care expenses between the parents as child support. This includes health and dental care.

Texas courts are required to make orders for medical support of a child in the following proceedings:

  • Child support proceedings
  • Child custody proceedings
  • Paternity proceedings
  • Other Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR)
  • Actions under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)

Courts can also divide the costs of medical and dental treatment that are not covered by applicable health or dental insurance.

Private Health Insurance

Parents help provide necessary health care to their children by buying private health insurance that covers the child’s needs. A court may determine which parent has the responsibility of providing the child with coverage, factoring in the cost and quality of health insurance specifically available to each parent.

As a result, the amount of a parent’s child support obligation will factor in the cost of helping the other parent purchase and maintain adequate health insurance of the child.

The parent who the court designates as responsible for providing their child with health insurance must also provide certain information within 30 days of getting notice of the order, including:

  • Their social security number
  • The name and address of their employer
  • Whether the employer is self-insured or provides health and/or dental insurance benefits
  • Proof of a health and/or dental insurance policy covering the child

The parent must also provide specific information about their employer-provided health and/or insurance to help facilitate insurance claim submissions, including:

  • The name of the insurance carrier
  • The policy number
  • A copy of the policy and schedule of benefits
  • An insurance membership card
  • Claim forms

If the parent’s employer is self-insured, then they must provide the following information about the necessary documents for filing a claim:

  • A copy of the schedule of benefits
  • A membership card
  • Claim forms

If a parent fails to provide their child with adequate health insurance, or to pay child support to the other parent to help cover the cost of health insurance, they are liable for the underlying cost of the child’s necessary medical expenses, whether or not they would have been covered by health insurance if otherwise provided.

As a result, a parent can be sued for additional child support if they failed to provide adequate health insurance for their child. If a parent incurred out-of-pocket costs as a result of a lapse in coverage, the other might be obligated to reimburse them for part of those costs, even for any amount that a health insurance policy would not have paid for.

Enforcing Orders for Medical Support

An order providing for a child’s medical support is enforceable as any other child support order. If a parent does not honor their duty to provide medical support to their child, the other party may be entitled to a legal remedy in the form of contempt proceedings, license suspensions, earnings garnishments, and more.

When a parent who the court designated as responsible for providing their child with health and/or dental insurance coverage allows coverage to lapse or terminate, they are required to notify the enforcing child support agency within 15 days of the coverage’s lapse or termination.

Contact Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers for Legal Advisors Who Care

Looking for legal advice about a matter related to child support? If so, you should consult a distinguished attorney from Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers, for quality legal representation. We have experience working with family law issues, such as the provision of child support to cover a child’s medical needs.

To get started, call our office at (940) 293-2313 or contact us online today.

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