Child Support “Credit” for Payment of Health Insurance?
Clients and potential clients often ask me if they will receive a “credit” for paying for the family’s health insurance when child support is calculated. The answer, as is frequently the case when family law attorneys are asked questions, is IT DEPENDS.
You will not receive any “credit” or reduction in child support for maintaining yourself or your spouse on your health insurance plan. However, your payment of health insurance for your children is considered by the court when child support is calculated. In both primary and shared physical custody cases, additional direct payments made for the health insurance costs for the child and extraordinary medical expenses for the child (and certain additional expenses) are factored into the child support guidelines calculation based on the actual amounts each parent pays towards those expenses.
This explanation usually leads to another very common question… how is the child or children’s portion of health insurance premium calculated? The child’s portion of health insurance premium is calculated by obtaining the client’s annual premium spreadsheet, typically from the client’s Human Resources department. Once you have the premium spreadsheet, determine which plan(s) the client is currently participating and locate where it lists the cost for “employee only” and for “employee plus 1” or “employee plus child” etc. The cost for the “employee only” is subtracted from “employee plus 1” or “employee plus child” and the remaining amount is the cost for the child’s portion of the health insurance premium. Keep in mind that it is important to determine whether the figures used are for monthly, per pay period, or weekly premiums.
Finally, you should be aware that there was a recent change to Maryland law which defines “health insurance” for the purposes of calculating a child support obligation. Specifically, “health insurance” now includes medical, dental, and vision insurance and prescription drug coverage. Clarifying what “health insurance” means is helpful because judges around the state frequently had to determine for themselves what was included in the health insurance portion of child support calculations.