Healthcare is a huge financial issue for many families. During divorce cases, child custody hearings, and child support discussions, who pays for the children’s medical coverage is becoming more and more of an issue that arises in nearly every case, and paying for health coverage is often a bargaining chip in many child support cases. However, some rules for health insurance and California Medicaid coverage may depend on you having custody of your children. The Ventura child custody lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth discuss issues surrounding Medicaid coverage and child custody in California.

How Does Child Custody Work in California?

Before discussing how child custody affects Medicaid, it is important to discuss some vital details about how child custody works. Parents typically only think of “custody” as “physical custody” – that is the right to have your children live with you in your household after divorce or legal separation. Parents who do not have sole physical custody often consider themselves to have “lost custody,” but in reality, there are often two or three custody rights you still have:

  • Parents who share parenting time have joint custody. Even if this is not a 50/50 split, you still “have custody” if your children spend at least some time in your household.
  • Parents with no physical custody rights and no parenting time may still have visitation rights. This means you are not cut off from seeing your children at all, which you would be if you have no custody rights.
  • Parents that do not have physical custody may still have legal custody. This allows them to make decisions in their children’s lives and participate in their upbringing, even if they do not have their children living with them.

A “noncustodial” parent can refer to a parent who does not currently have physical custody (i.e., the parent with the minority of the parenting time split), or it can refer to a parent who has been stripped of custody entirely.

In many cases, whether you have custody or not, you may be required to pay child support. One factor in child support cases is paying for the children’s healthcare – which a court may ask you do to if you have an insurance policy through your employer. If you do not, the court may require you to get a private insurance plan, a plan through the healthcare marketplace, or health insurance through CHIP or Medicaid.

Can Noncustodial Parents Get Medi-Cal Coverage for their Children?

Typically, any parent can get Medicaid for their children. Courts want children to have health insurance and healthcare coverage because it is in the child’s best interest to be able to afford necessary medical care, so there is usually no bar to getting your child covered.

In cases where the noncustodial parent is ordered to pay child support, they will likely be the one required to pay for healthcare coverage as well. Many working parents with enough income to afford self-support and child support are asked to pay for medical coverage as part of their child support obligation. If your employer’s insurance policy does not cover your children or you use a private plan and cannot afford coverage for your children, perhaps the other parent can. If neither parent can afford private healthcare coverage, California’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, might be able to cover your children.

To apply for Medi-Cal, you need to either have low income that makes it difficult to afford private healthcare, or you can apply for other conditions and situations. To apply for coverage for your children, you must have low enough income to qualify for coverage.

Does Custody Affect Medicaid Eligibility for My Children?

The rules for applying for Medicaid are somewhat complex, and your eligibility can be affected by multiple factors. Cooperation with child custody and child support orders is one of those factors. If you are required to handle child support a certain way, you must work with your Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) when applying for Medi-Cal. If you do not, you may lose edibility, but your children should not.

A parent’s confusion with the child support system or the fact that one parent ignores child support duties should not affect your child’s eligibility for Medicaid. If a child in your custody or under your financial support needs medical coverage, Medi-Cal, CHIP, and other programs should be available. Unless you have too high of an income level to qualify for these programs, you should be able to get your child coverage whether they live with you or not, even if you do not personally qualify for Medicaid.

Talk to an attorney for more specific information about how your custody case might affect your eligibility for Medicaid and how to get health coverage for your child as part of your child support case.

Call Our Ventura, CA Child Custody and Support Lawyers Today

If you are in the middle of a child custody or child support dispute discussion and you need an attorney, call the Ventura family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today. Our lawyers represent parents in custody and child support hearings and can help guide you through healthcare requirements in a child support case. To schedule a free legal consultation, contact our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.