Out of pocket medical costs are shared by the parents of divorced children in Wyoming. Generally, these costs are split 50/50. However, more and more courts are splitting them based on the ratio of the income of the parents.
Ratio of parents’ incomes
Whenever a court enters a child support order, it also makes orders regarding medical support of the children.
The ratio is calculated by adding the parents’ net incomes, and then dividing each parent’s income by the total. The resulting fraction or percentage is how much of the the out of pocket costs the parent will pay.
The following example shows how this works:
Father’s income = $6,000 per month and Mother’s income = $2,000 per month, therefore the total joint income = $8,000 per month.
Father’s share is 6,000 divided by 8,000, which is 3/4, or 0.75, which is 75%.
Mother’s share is 2,000 divided by 8,000, which is 1/4, or 0.25, which is 25%
So in this example, if the parents’ child has a $20.00 prescription bill, then the Father would have to pay 75% of the bill, which is $15.00 ($20 x 0.75 = $15). Mother would have to pay 25% of the bill, which is $5.00 ($20 x 0.25 = $5).
Why not share the bills 50/50?
More and more courts are deciding to ratio the out of pocket costs because it seems to be more “fair.”
The above example with the $20 prescription co-pay does not really seem significant to raise the issue of fairness. We are only talking about $5.00, more or less.
However, lets look at those same parents paying for braces for one of their kids. (By the way, most Judges do not consider braces a luxury, and will order the parties to share that cost). Braces can easily cost $4,000.00 out of pocket, even with insurance coverage.
In that case, if the parents had to share $4,000 equally, then each parent would need to pay $2,000. That means that the braces would cost the Mother one month’s worth of income. The Father, on the other hand, would only be out one third of his month’s income. It would be a lot “easier” for Father to cover his share of the braces.
However, if each parent had to pay according to the ratio of their incomes, then Father would pay 75% of $4,000, which is $3,000, and Mother would pay 25% of $4,000, which is $1,000.
The kid’s braces would then cost each parent one half of a month of income. Therefore, it would be equally “easy” for each parent to cover the cost of braces.
Changing the cost sharing
Medical support orders are generally issued as part of child support orders. Therefore, whenever a parent is in a position to ask for child support modification order, they could also ask to have the Court change its orders regarding the sharing of out of pocket medical costs.
Sharing out of pocket medical costs according to the ration of the parents’ incomes is becoming more common. This method seems more fair, and equalizes the financial burden on each parent.
By Steve Harton