When parents litigate their child custody proceedings, Washington, D.C., courts will determine issues relating to child support and child care expenses and how the divorced parents will divide these expenses between themselves. As such, if you are planning to reach an out-of-court settlement relating to child custody and your parenting plan, you will need to come to a determination about cost sharing.
With specific regard to health care cost sharing, parents will have various options for making a determination on the issue. Whatever decision the parents come to, they can codify it in a written agreement by incorporating the decision into their parenting plan via a well-written parenting provision.
Recording decisions pertaining to medical cost sharing in a parenting plan
At some point in the process of negotiating a child custody settlement, the parents will need to agree on who is responsible for health care expenses. The parenting provisions can indicate what kind of percentage cost split the parents will arrange for covering these costs. Perhaps the parents will split these costs 50-50, 60-40 or 80-20. Or, maybe one parent will assume all of the costs related to health care expenses.
The parents will also want to provide for a procedure regarding the notification of the other parent of necessary health expenses, that they will provide copies of the bills and that the other parent will have a certain amount of time – usually a month – to pay his or her share of the costs. As for unnecessary and/or cosmetic health costs, the parents should obtain permission from one another before incurring such costs on behalf of the child.
Have you examined all of your parenting provision options?
Parenting provisions do not only cover health care costs. Parents can include specially crafted parenting provisions that cover issues relating to the discipline, schooling, pickups and dropoffs, extra-curricular activities, religion, protecting the parent-child relationship, how to resolve parent-to-parent conflict and other vital matters. If you want to prepare for the future, and avoid the potential for conflict between you and your co-parent, consider your parenting provisions carefully to ensure that they cover all the vital points of concern you may have -- and that you could have later on down the road.