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How does health insurance factor into child support?

Even with changes on the federal political landscape regarding whether health insurance is mandatory, most parents in Springfield realize how important it is for children to have access to health care. Aside from the fact that children of all ages need to visit doctors and other professionals as a matter of routine, many children face serious physical or emotional conditions that require ongoing care and treatment.

Massachusetts’ Child Support Guidelines contemplate that one or both parents will arrange to have health insurance for their children. While a court will have to determine whether health insurance is available at a reasonable cost to either parent, the court will presume there is in fact affordable coverage available if the parent can participate in an employer-sponsored plan. This is so even if the parent would personally choose to opt out of the coverage.

A parent may be able to convince a judge that he or she cannot afford to pay for the coverage without facing significant financial problems, but the goal in mind is always to get coverage for the child. Still, if a parent thinks it would be a stretch to pay for health care, he or she can raise that argument and the judge will make a decision based on a number of factors set out in the Guidelines.

The good news is that if a parent is required to provide health insurance for his or her children, he or she is entitled to take an appropriate credit on his or her child support obligation. By way of example, this means that if a non-custodial mother agrees to front the cost of health insurance by participating in her employer’s plan, then he or she will pay less on her cash child support payment each month. But, detailed questions about health insurance and child support in Massachusetts should be referred to a family law attorney.