Who Is Responsible For Medical Expenses During A Divorce? 

In Portland, Oregon, nearly 14,000 divorces occur each year. When parents go through a divorce, they both have rights and responsibilities regarding the care, custody, and control of their child or children. Under state law, each parent is fully entitled to have custody of their children. During the divorce proceedings, the court has to decide the custodial arrangement pertaining to the child’s physical, financial and legal support. One or both parents may have physical custody of the child with the child living solely at one parent’s house or living split time at each of the parent’s homes.  

Legal custody involves the legal responsibility of the child. A parent with sole legal custody or parents who share joint legal custody of their child makes the major decisions for the child, including healthcare, education and religion. On their own, Oregon courts grant sole custody to one parent and cannot order joint custody unless both parents agree. In the sole legal custody, the noncustodial parent usually has to pay child support to the custodial parent to care for the child. 

Child support is a regularly paid monetary award or other financial support to pay for the child’s food, shelter, clothing and medical care. Healthcare coverage is also a form of child support. Under Oregon law, a child support order must contain a provision for medical support. State law states two types of medical support provisions – a health care coverage provision and a cash medical provision. 

The court may order the noncustodial parent to cover the child under a medical insurance policy. The medical insurance coverage may be through private insurance, a public program or the parent’s employer. The court may also order both parents to provide medical support. The cash medical provision instructs a parent to pay cash medical support if neither parent has access to health care coverage for their child. Cash medical support is an amount in addition to child support payments, which help defray the full amount of the health care expense the custodial parent owes. If the custodial parent has medical insurance that does not cover healthcare costs, cash medical support covers the uninsured costs. If the child support does not explicitly state that the noncustodial parent pays for medical expenses that the medical insurance does not cover, the custodial parent may be left to pay the remaining costs alone. 

To learn more about child support, and to schedule a consultation with one of our family law attorneys in Oregon or SW Washington, call us now at 503.222.9116 or write us.

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