Which Parent Is Responsible for Medical Bills in North Carolina?

Divorcing partners should agree on which parent is responsible for medical bills for their child(ren). If they disagree, the court may order one or both parents to provide medical support.

The court assigns responsibility for a child’s medical expenses based on factors such as which parent has employer-sponsored health insurance and their income.

In this post, our Charlotte family lawyer at Remington & Dixon, PLLC, answers:

  • What are North Carolina laws on medical bills after divorce?
  • Is the non-custodial parent responsible for health insurance?
  • Who pays uncovered medical expenses?
  • What happens if both parents have health insurance?
  • What happens if a parent isn’t paying their share?

North Carolina Laws on Medical Bills After Divorce

North Carolina General Statute § 50-13.11 outlines the orders and agreements on health insurance coverage for children after divorce. The law expects divorcing partners to make a written agreement on which parent is responsible for medical bills. Otherwise, the court may order one or both parents to provide the support.

The agreement or order includes the child’s medical, dental, and other related healthcare costs. One or both parents will be required to maintain health insurance on behalf of the child if it’s available at a reasonable cost. If they cannot afford the insurance, they will be expected to do so when it becomes available at a reasonable cost.

According to the statute, the coverage is considered reasonable if the cost does not exceed 5% of the parent’s gross income. The 5%, in this case, includes only the child’s cost and not the entire cost of family coverage. For instance, if the parent had health insurance, the 5% rule applies to the cost of adding the child to the existing coverage.

Since dental expenses are often excluded from the main coverage, the court may require one or both parents to maintain dental insurance.

The parent assigned to provide medical support must provide the other party with a written notice whenever there’s a change to the coverage. If the other party requires coverage details, they may send a written request to the employer or insurer of the paying party to release the information.

Once there’s an agreement or court order on medical support, any parent can issue a valid authorization for claim processing even if they’re not the one paying for the insurance.

Non-Custodial Parent Responsibility for Health Insurance

Both the custodial and non-custodial parent may be responsible for health insurance. The court may assign the responsibility to one or both parents based on various factors, including whether they have health insurance coverage and their income. In most cases, the non-custodial parent is likely to be assigned the responsibility of medical support.

Whichever parent the court assigns, their insurance premiums count as contribution during child support calculations.

Uncovered Medical Expenses

Deductibles, co-pays, prescriptions, adaptive devices, and other out-of-pocket medical expenses can be substantial. Both parents must agree on who should take care of them or how they should split the expenses.

Usually, the custodial parent incurs the costs and then reaches out to the other parent for reimbursement. The custodial parent may be required to pay the first $250 of uncovered medical annual expenses and the excess paid by the other parent or split between the two based on factors such as their income.

Contact Our Family Law Attorneys for Help with Child Support Issues

Child support is a sensitive issue during and after divorce. However, there are measures couples can take to minimize misunderstandings as much as possible and pave the way for a mutually-rewarding co-parenting experience.

Deciding which parent is responsible for medical bills early ensures the child’s medical needs are well-anticipated and catered for. Whether you agree on who should pay the bills or the court issues a decree, it’s important to comply for everyone’s peace of mind. However, should one parent fail to provide the support as required, the other parent is legally protected and can initiate action for compensation.

At Remington & Dixon PLLC, we’re dedicated to offering our clients with the best legal representation to protect their rights. Get in touch with our experienced family law attorney with a proven track record in handling divorce and child support cases.

If you’re going through a divorce, we can help you navigate the process, including creating a child support agreement that protects the interests of all parties — especially your child’s. We invite you to fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.

FAQs About Children’s Medical Expenses After Divorce

What if both parents have health insurance?

If both parents have health insurance, the court will designate the primary coverage based on factors such as benefits available, deductibles, and co-payments. The secondary coverage can then be used to pay for expenses not covered under the main policy.

What should one do if the other parent is not paying their share?

If a parent ordered to provide medical support fails to maintain health insurance, they’re responsible for any medical costs the child may incur. In the event a parent fails to pay their part of the child’s medical costs, they may face consequences such as contempt of court charges and wage garnishment.


Are consultations free?

While we offer a free consultation on traffic matters, criminal matters, and most professional license defense cases, we charge a fee for family law consultations to personalize our consultations to your specific needs. To learn about our fee structure, please get in touch.

Where can I get legal advice?

We recommend meeting with an attorney. While there is free legal help available for North Carolina residents from pro bono resources for civil matters, and public defenders for criminal cases, the best way to access tailored advice is to hire a lawyer.

Can I hire you if I’m in another state?

This is done on a case by case basis if you are involved in a family law, criminal, or professional disciplinary matter that involves another jurisdiction.



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