Make Sure Your Children are Properly Insured after Your Divorce

Divorce can be a tumultuous journey filled with countless decisions and emotional upheaval. Amidst the chaos, it's crucial to prioritize the well-being of the children involved. 

This includes their health insurance coverage. As medical expenses for children can be significant, it’s helpful to remain vigilant about the status of their health care during this transition.

Who pays for a child’s health insurance during the divorce process?

While divorce proceedings are ongoing, healthcare for children is usually kept as is. Why? Because you're not yet divorced, so there's no need to change insurance unnecessarily.

Who pays for a child’s health insurance after divorce?

After divorce, your healthcare and your child's healthcare will likely change. Here are a few scenarios.

Scenario 1: Joint custody with similar incomes

In this case, both parents share physical and legal custody of the child and have comparable incomes. As a result, they might agree to split the cost of the child's health insurance equally, with one parent carrying the child on their healthcare plan. 

This arrangement can be formalized in the divorce agreement to make sure that each parent contributes their fair share toward the child's healthcare costs and insurance company premiums.

Scenario 2: Sole custody with a significant income disparity

Suppose one parent has sole custody and earns considerably more than the other parent. In this situation, the higher-earning parent may be responsible for providing and paying for the child's health insurance. This responsibility may be outlined in the divorce settlement or determined by the court based on the best interests of the child.

Scenario 3: Shared custody with pre-existing insurance

If one parent already had a comprehensive family health insurance plan before the divorce, they might continue purchasing health care coverage for the child under their policy. In this scenario, the other parent could be required to contribute financially to the cost of the insurance premiums, depending on their income and the terms agreed upon during the divorce proceedings.

How do I talk to my ex-spouse about childcare for our kids?

Discussing childcare with your ex can be a sensitive and emotionally charged topic. To promote a productive conversation that prioritizes the best interests of your children, consider these actionable tips:

  • Choose the right time and place. Select a neutral location and a time when both of you are relatively calm and free from distractions. This will help create a conducive environment for open and honest discussion.
  • Prepare and set an agenda. Before the conversation, make a list of the key points you want to discuss regarding childcare. This will help keep the conversation focused and prevent it from devolving into unrelated issues or personal arguments.
  • Use "I" statements. Express your thoughts and concerns using "I" statements, such as "I feel," "I think," or "I believe." This approach fosters a sense of personal responsibility and reduces the likelihood of your ex feeling attacked or defensive.
  • Practice active listening. Demonstrate through body language that you are genuinely interested in understanding your ex's perspective by actively listening to their concerns and making eye contact. Paraphrase what they say so they know you’re listening.
  • Stay focused on the children. Keep the discussion centered on your children's needs, well-being, and best interests. Avoid bringing up past grievances or personal issues that could derail the conversation.
  • Be willing to compromise. Understand that childcare arrangements may require flexibility and compromise from both parents. Be open to considering alternative solutions and finding a middle ground that works for everyone involved so all medical costs and health insurance premiums are covered.
  • Establish clear communication channels. Agree on how you will communicate about childcare moving forward, whether it's through email, text messages, or phone calls. Establishing clear communication channels can help minimize misunderstandings and promote effective co-parenting.
  • Consider mediation. If you and your ex are struggling to reach an agreement on childcare, consider seeking the assistance of a professional mediator. Mediation can be a valuable tool in facilitating constructive dialogue, helping both parties find common ground, and ultimately developing a mutually agreeable co-parenting plan.

FAQ about child healthcare after divorce

Whose policy is the primary policy if the parents are divorced?

This depends on the situation of the divorced parties. If one spouse has full coverage through their employer, the divorce decree may require them to maintain coverage for their child through that policy. However, if the spouses typically obtained their health coverage through the Marketplace, they'll need to add coverage for their child based on the divorce decree.

Which parent is responsible for taking the child to the doctor?

Typically, the parent who has physical custody of the child at the time of a scheduled doctor's appointment or when an unexpected medical issue arises is responsible for taking the child to the doctor. This arrangement ensures that the child receives timely medical care and minimizes disruptions to the established custody schedule.

Are both parents responsible for the child’s medical bills?

Although health insurance offers some benefits, there are often out-of-pocket costs. Both parents are generally responsible for their child's medical bills, especially when it comes to necessary and reasonable healthcare expenses. However, the extent of each parent's financial responsibility may depend on several factors, such as custody arrangements, income levels, and the terms outlined in the divorce agreement or court order.

Free downloadable worksheet: Create Your Co-Parenting Plan

Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.