Family Courts Now Have A Simplified Way To Determine If A Parent Can Afford To Pay For A Child’s Health Insurance Coverage

Effective January 1, 2011, California revised Family Code Section 3751 so that now family law courts and litigants have guidance in terms of when a parent must pay for his or her child’s health insurance.

Family Code Section 3751 orders that in any case where child support is ordered, a court shall require either or both parties to maintain health insurance coverage for the supported child if that insurance is available at no cost or “reasonable” cost to the responsible parent. Prior to January 1, 2011, the term “reasonable” was not defined, and no doubt precious public resources and attorney’s fees were spent litigating the definition of the word “reasonable.”  However, effective January 1, 2011, the cost of a child’s health insurance coverage is rebuttably presumed to be “reasonable” if it does not exceed 5% of the responsible parent’s gross income. The health insurance coverage at issue in Family Code Section 3751 only applies to that amount required to insure the supported child, not the entire cost of a family plan. This new statute gives family law courts an objective tool to determine when a parent must be required to insure their child.  Also, as health insurance costs rise and many individual’s incomes drop, old child support orders should be reviewed and possibly modified if the health insurance costs exceeds 5% of the responsible parent’s current gross income.