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Dealing with health care expenses as divorced parents

If you're a divorcing parent, one of the items you and your spouse need to address in your child custody and support agreements is your children's health care. Insurance coverage is key. You need to determine which of you will be responsible for it.

If you and your spouse both have insurance coverage through an employer-sponsored plan, you can both include your children on your plans. One would be the primary plan and the other the secondary. The secondary plan can help cover costs not covered by the primary plan.

If you have health insurance for your kids through some other plan, you'll need to determine who will pay for that coverage or if the two of you will split it.

Beyond the health insurance premiums, you'll need to determine how medical expenses not covered by insurance will be paid for. This includes co-pays. Sometimes, one parent covers all of the medical expenses. In other cases, it's split between the parents.

It's important to track medical expenses and payments. Often, the parent who takes the child for a check-up or other medical care will pay the co-pay at the doctor's office or another medical facility, and the other parent will reimburse them for all or part of that co-pay. There are co-parenting apps that help parents track these and other expenses and reimbursements.

As part of your custody agreement, you'll determine who has the legal right to make medical decisions for your children. Typically, both parents do if they have shared custody.

Whatever you decide, you should inform your children's health care providers so they know whom they can share information with and who can make decisions regarding the kids' health care. It's also essential to communicate with each other regarding your children's health -- even if they have no serious health issues.

There's a lot to think about as you divorce. If your kids are healthy, you may not give much thought to how their medical care will be covered. However, it's best to work out the details during the divorce. This can prevent confusion and conflict later on. Your attorney can help you work to do what's best for your children.

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