Texas law requires that every child support order must also include provisions for medical insurance for the children. The cost of the insurance is often added on to the amount of money paid monthly for the actual support of the children, which is usually the responsibility of the non-custodial parent.
Base Child Support
Texas calculates the base amount of child support as a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s net income depending on the number of children who need his support. For instance, if you have one child, as of May 2011 Texas expects you to devote 20 percent of your income to her support. If you have three children, this rises to 30 percent, and if you have five or more children, it rises to 40 percent. If you earn more than $7,500 per month, a judge can increase this percentage at his discretion.
Texas has a prescribed order as to which parent provides the children’s health insurance coverage. A judge looks to the non-custodial parent first. If she has a policy available through her job, she must cover the children under that policy. If she doesn’t have insurance benefits through her employment, the court expects the non-custodial parent to provide coverage if he can do so through his job. If neither parent has health benefits available through their employers, the non-custodial parent must purchase a private policy for her children. If a judge accepts that this is financially impossible for her to do, then the custodial parent must apply for either Medicaid or the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Impact on Child Support Payments
If a non-custodial parent can provide health insurance for his children through his job, it doesn’t affect his child support obligation in any way. But if the non-custodial parent must cover the children through her job, and if there is an additional fee payable to her employer for that coverage, then the non-custodial parent must reimburse her for the extra premium. His child support payment increases to cover this amount. If CHIP covers the children, his child support payment would increase to cover this premium as well.
Uninsured Medical Expenses
Texas law divides co-pays and uninsured medical expenses between the parents, but not always equally. If their incomes are roughly equal, a judge will usually make each of them responsible for 50 percent. However, if one parent earns $4,000 per month and the other parent only earns $2,000 a month, the courts will generally divide uncovered medical costs proportionately. The parent who earns $4,000 would pay 66 percent of the uncovered expenses and the parent who earns less would pay on 33 percent.
If neither you or your child’s other parent have health coverage through your employer, and if your children don’t qualify for CHIP, Texas will add “cash medical support” to your child support order for his medical needs. This can sometimes be even more costly than a modest medical insurance policy. If you’re a non-custodial parent, and you can’t cover your children either through your employment or the state, you might be better off shopping around for the best, most affordable policy you can find.