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Does Child Support Cover Medical Expenses in South Carolina?

Child support provides basic needs for a child. When a couple is married, they will each naturally contribute to their child’s shelter, clothing, and nutritional needs. After divorce, one parent typically writes a check each month to the other. The amount is spelled out in the child support order. 

Medical expenses can represent a considerable amount of money. In South Carolina, parents also must contribute to health insurance and pay uninsured medical bills. Your child support order should lay out how much each parent will contribute to these expenses. Call Surasky Law Firm if you have questions. 

Health Insurance 

The court first wants to know if one or both parents have access to it. Health insurance continues to be tied to a job for many workers as an employment benefit. For example, a husband and wife might both work jobs, but only the husband’s job comes with health insurance. In this case, he will probably put his child on his policy. 

When both parents have health insurance, the court will look at which policy provides more comprehensive coverage. The child will probably be put on this insurance because the benefits are greater. Share information about your health insurance with your attorney. 

A court can order both parents to contribute to health insurance. Let’s say the spouse who pays child support will put a child on his policy. The court will determine how much the child’s coverage costs and then this parent receives a credit against their child support. 

Because insurance is tied to a job, you might lose it when you retire or change jobs. You should definitely revisit this issue with the court if you are the parent who changed jobs. The court will be displeased if you lose a job and don’t report that your child has lost health insurance. 

There are options when both parents lack coverage through work. Parents might purchase health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. They can also receive premium assistance, depending on their incomes. The ACA has made health insurance more affordable for millions in South Carolina, and our family law attorney knows how to shop for a policy. 

Uninsured Medical Expenses 

Even when a child is insured, there are regular uninsured medical expenses. These expenses include: 

  • Copays 

  • Deductibles 

  • Prescription medication 

Even after a deductible is met, health insurance only covers a certain percentage, e.g., 80% or 90%. The parents need to pick up the rest as an uninsured expense. 

The child support guidelines already assume that the parent receiving child support will need to pay up to $250.00 per year per child in uninsured medical expenses. Any amount over this amount will need to be divided between the parents, usually based on a fixed percentage. As an example, one parent will be responsible for 2/3 while the other 1/3. If there are $3,000 in uninsured medical expenses in a year, then the parents split these bills $2,000/$1,000. 

It should go without saying that only “reasonable” and “necessary” expenses are covered. Your child’s teeth whitening is probably not a necessary expense, while other expenses fall in a gray area. Braces or mental health counseling may or may not be covered, and a court might need to decide if this care is necessary. 

Getting Paid for Uninsured Medical Expenses 

It’s one thing for your child support order to lay out who will pay for medical expenses. It’s quite another to get reimbursed. 

Imagine you are the custodial parent, and your child needs thousands of dollars in medical care. Health insurance is in your name, so the bills come to your house. You now want your ex to pay his percentage based on the child support order. What happens if he doesn’t pay? 

Then you must:

  • Proof of the Expense: Receipts for prescriptions or bills for office visits are required.

  • Payment of Filing Fee: Proof that you paid the required $250 filing fee is necessary.

  • Uncovered Medical Costs: Documentation showing the amount not covered by insurance is needed. (An office bill of $600 might only have $60 due if your insurance covered $540 after deductible). The other parent is only responsible for these uncovered expenses. An Explanation of Benefits might be necessary.

  • Prompt Notice to Ex-Partner: You must promptly notify your ex-partner about the medical expense.

  • Reasonable Time to Pay: Allow your ex-partner a reasonable amount of time to pay you back.

Parents should meet all of these obligations before rushing into court to seek a contempt action against their ex for willfully refusing to pay. 

Waiting around for payment is tough. Some parents have a history of dragging their feet. We recommend trying to get digital copies of all bills or scanning them into PDF form. This makes it much easier to send the bill as a PDF attachment on an email. You should never send an original paper bill to your ex because they might “lose it” and you never see it again. 

If you have provided proper notice and waited a reasonable amount of time, it might be necessary to ask the court to intervene. You can seek an Order to Show Cause from the court and ultimately ask the court to force your ex to pay. You can also request legal fees for bringing the order to show cause/contempt action. 

Speak with a Child Support Attorney in Aiken, SC Today 

Medical expenses take a large bite out of anyone’s bank account. The cost of all care has exploded over the past 20 years, and even the insured have large expenses. Divorcing parents should split these expenses in a fair manner. Please contact Surasky Law Firm if you are divorcing or cannot get your ex to pay their fair share. We can advise you about what steps to take and protect your rights. 





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