Health Insurance Provisions for Minor Children
Who is Responsible for the Children?
According to A.R.S. 25-320(D)(6), the court must consider which parent will be responsible and pay the costs of insuring the minor child or children of the parties. The court will determine which parent should pay for the insurance, and the proportion each parent will pay for costs not covered by insurance, in the child support order. The court’s determination follows statutory guidelines, which means the court will consider the following factors:
- The income of each parent,
- Does either parent have the means to provide insurance,
- Is insurance reasonably available where the child resides, and
- If neither parent has access to insurance, what state sponsored plans can insure the child.
This topic is also covered in the child’s medical support plan—is insurance available or does the custodial parent need cash assistance to obtain it?
Enforcing the Health Insurance Provision
Like child support payments, health insurance coverage and unreimbursed expenses may be enforced. An enforcement action is usually needed if the parent obligated to provide health insurance fails to do so, or if a parent refuses to reimburse their share of the unreimbursed expenses. The parent seeking to enforce the order may file directly with the court that issued the child support order or contact the Title IV-D agency in their county.
If a parent is ordered to cover his or her child or children in the child support order, an employer cannot discharge or fire the employee because the parent is obligated to cover the child under the employer’s health insurance plan. If the employer fires or terminates an employee due to their obligation, that employer may face legal penalties, including a civil lawsuit.
Change in circumstances
Under A.R.S. 25-327, an order for a parent to provide health insurance may constitute a significant and continual change in circumstances sufficient to request a reduction in spousal maintenance and/or child support. The Arizona Child Support Guidelines specifically provides for the calculation of child support and the consideration of health insurance costs in calculating child support amounts.
How the System Works
There are rules and policies found in the Arizona statutes. Parents have an obligation to meet their child’s medical needs. Health insurance is one of those medical needs. The Title IV D agency may serve the parent’s employer with notice of the administrative or court order requiring health insurance coverage. Upon receipt, the employer is responsible to deliver the support order to the employee parent within 10 days of receiving the notice. The parent may contest or object to the notice within 10 days. The notice provides the parent with his or her due process rights while also protecting the child’s best interest.
When facing issues of support for minor children, it is suggested getting as much information as possible before agreeing to a child support order or going to court. Speaking with an experienced Arizona Family Law attorney will help you prepare for what is in your child’s best interest, as well as protecting your rights, and your child’s.