PART ONE OF A FIVE PART SERIES ON THE NEW CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES
Oregon’s new child support guidelines went into effect July 1, 2013. Whether you are opening a new child support case or thinking of modifying an existing child support order, here are a few ways in which the new guidelines could affect your bottom line.
HEALTH CARE COVERAGE
When both parents have appropriate health care coverage available for their children, the parent with more parenting time is allowed to decide which parent will provide the coverage. In some cases, it may make sense for both parents to keep their existing health insurance coverage for the children. This is called double coverage, and it can help keep deductibles and other out of pocket costs to a minimum.
When both parents have the same amount of parenting time and cannot agree on which of them should provide coverage, the parent with the lowest premium cost will be ordered to maintain coverage unless the Court finds there is a good reason not to. For example, the parent with the more expensive premium could have better benefits, or double coverage might make sense for children with chronic medical problems.
If neither parent has health care coverage available, the Court will order both parents to provide it as soon as it becomes available to one of them at a reasonable cost. In addition, the parent ordered to pay child support will also be ordered to pay cash medical support to defray the cost of medical expenses while their child remains uninsured. A parent who earns minimum wage or less cannot be ordered to pay cash medical support.
Under the old guidelines, if the parent ordered to pay child support did not also provide health care coverage for the children, he or she would be ordered to pay cash medical support in addition to cash child support. The new guidelines do away with cash medical support (except in instances where neither parent has health care coverage for the children). Instead, each parent’s share of the health care premiums is factored into the cash child support obligation. In other words, if the paying spouse also provides health insurance, he or she will receive a reduction to compensate them for the other parent’s share. Likewise, if the parent receiving support provides health insurance, he or she will see an increase in the cash child support ordered.
The new guidelines aim to distribute the financial burden of providing health care coverage evenly between both parents. When deciding who should provide coverage, parents should consider the medical needs of their children, the costs of their respective plans, and the benefits offered.
In our five part series, we will cover the other areas affected by the new guidelines including parenting time credits, changes to how income is calculated, how child care costs are imputed, how support for adult children attending school is factored, and how much parents can deviate from the ordered support amount based on agreement. If you are interested in learning more about how the new guidelines could affect you, call (888) 981-9511 to set up a free consultation.
– Joanna Posey, Attorney