Will You or Your Spouse be Required to Maintain Health Insurance for Your Child?

March 3, 2011

As a San Diego family law attorney, many of my clients come to me with the goal of obtaining an order for child support. Many times, my clients do not know that generally, when a court makes an order for child support, the court must also make an order for health insurance for the supported child. Specifically, the court must order that either or both parents maintain health insurance for the supported child if that insurance is available at no cost or at a reasonable cost to the parent.

Because many of my clients do not have the benefit of health insurance at no cost, one question I am asked in child support cases is what will the judge think is a resonable cost for health insurance?

There used to be a rebuttable presumption that any employment-related group health insurance or other group health insurance was reasonable in cost. However, beginning January 1, 2011, this has changed. Now, there is a rebuttable presumption that any health insurance cost which does not exceed 5% of the parent's gross income is reasonable. In determining whether the health insurance cost exceeds 5% of the parent's gross income, we look at the difference in cost between self coverage and family coverage, and it is that amount that cannot exceed 5%.

Say for example that you have an annual gross income of $60,000, and the cost of your employment-related group health insurance is $250 per month for you individually, or $600 per month for a family plan. Under the old rule, the rebuttable presumption would apply simply because the plan was available through your employer. Under the new rule, the rebuttable presumption applies only if the additional cost for a family plan, above and beyond the cost for the individual plan, is less than 5% of your income. In this example, the presumption would not apply under the new rule because the additional cost of $350 per month (calculated as $600 - $250) is more than 5% of the gross income.