Custody agreements, medical bills, and health insurane

Do you have to provide health insurance for your minor child when your ex-husband got full custody but he has no coverage?  I could add my son to my plan at work, but it would cost me a lot of money.  Plus, I don’t want to give my ex-husband a break from what he is supposed to do.

Single Mom

Dear Single Mom,

The short answer to your question is no, you are not required to cover your son.  The longer answer is a bit more interesting.

If the custody agreement specified that the father is responsible for health insurance, then you are not on the hook to provide it. The custody agreement may or may not have required him to have health insurance; it may only have required him to be responsible for the child’s medical bills. In other words, it doesn’t matter if Junior has health insurance; it only matters that the medical bills will be paid somehow.  Either way, the hospital or doctor’s office will not be able to come after you for the bills.

You may want your son to have health insurance, rather than be limited to what your husband can afford to pay for medical bills.  Something expensive could happen and you wouldn’t want to stand by and risk your son not getting all of the care he needs.

So, you have an interesting opportunity.  Since you have a plan offered to you, you have something to negotiate with.  You could offer to cover your son, in exchange for lowering your child support payments.  Or there may be some other part of the custody agreement that you could adjust.  This might sound a bit too business-like, given that a child is involved, but children are at least partly a financial enterprise.

Good luck and best wishes for a good outcome for all.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.