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Who is responsible for my children's medical expenses after a divorce?

Medical expenses for children, including and especially dental and vision expenses, can be significant, even for intact families with multiple wage earners. When parents split into separate, one-income households, those costs can become onerous, if not crushing. Fortunately, Virginia law provides a number of interrelated means of mitigating those costs to a custodial parent.

First, Virginia courts can, and almost always do, require that one parent provide health insurance coverage for minor children, even the parent who does not have primary physical custody of the children. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, as long as health insurance is reasonably available and affordable, you can expect that one parent will be required to carry it. If the parent paying for health insurance is the parent receiving child support, then rest assured that the cost of the insurance will be incorporated into the other parent's child support obligation. Specifically, if a parent is paying for health insurance, then the child support obligation is adjusted in such a way that each parent is "paying" a portion of that cost.

What about costs not covered by insurance? Virginia law has you covered there as well. By default, those medical expenses that your children's health insurance does not pay are to be divided between the parents in proportion to their gross incomes. In other words, if one parent makes $5,000 per month and the other makes $10,000 per month, the parent making $10,000 would be responsible for paying two-thirds of any un-covered expenses. That is not set in stone, however, and parents are free to agree that one should pay all of those expenses, or that both parent should pay them equally, or somewhere in between.

The foregoing is only a brief overview of health insurance issues involved in divorce and child support. Please do not hesitate to contact an attorney at The Duff Law Firm for information and advice tailored to your specific circumstances. (703) 591-7475.

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Duff & Kronfeld, P.C.
11320 Random Hills Road, Suite 630
Fair Oaks Commerce Center
Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: 703-591-7475
Fax: 703-273-4537
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