When you and your spouse divorce, most situations that you maintained as a family unit will have to be restructured. These include living arrangements, finances, and even health insurance, the latter of which is a special concern if you have children.

Technically speaking, medical insurance counts as a form of child support. Making it available is not actually negotiable: under the Affordable Care Act, all minor children must be covered by some type of health insurance. What form that insurance takes will depend on whether or not you and/or your spouse have health care coverage of your own.

Who covers?

When both parents are employed and have insurance through their workplace, one plan will serve as the primary one while the other pays any costs not covered by the primary. If only one of you has insurance, then the children are covered under their plan by default.

How the co-pays are divided will depend on factors like which parent has custody. Non-custodial parents usually cover the greater percentage of their children’s healthcare expenses, which will be factored into their child support payments. If you and your spouse have agreed to joint custody, costs may be split 50-50 or prorated on the basis of your respective incomes.

If neither you nor your spouse are covered, a private plan must be purchased for the children. There are affordable plans geared toward such circumstances, but in instances where you simply cannot afford private insurance, the children may be eligible for coverage under New York’s Child Health Plus program (formerly Children’s Medicaid). Parents remain responsible for any co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses, but how those will be shared will depend on what you both agree to or, if you are unable to reach an agreement with your spouse, then the judge decides. In the latter instance, the amount is normally split based on which parent can afford to take on the most cost.

Going to the doctor

Whichever parent takes the child to the doctor will be regarded as the party responsible for co-pays and expected to pay them in full. If you trust your spouse to reimburse you for his or her share, then this likely won’t be a problem for you. On the other hand, if you don’t believe they will repay you, it’s a wise idea to have a contract on file with the billing office, stating that you and your spouse will be billed separately for a designated percentage of all co-pays.

If you have questions or concerns about how your children’s health care costs will be covered after divorce, then contact a New York family law attorney today. Even if the state pays for most of it, your attorney can help you put together an arrangement that splits co-pays and other fees as equitably as possible. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY family lawyer with more than 33 years of legal experience. He represents clients in both divorce and family court cases. To schedule a free in-person initial consultation with Mr. Lutzky, call 718-514-6619 or visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com.