Articles Posted in Heath Insurance


Every parent has an ongoing responsibility to support their child.

All parents have to work together to raise their children to the best of their ability.  There are times of joy and also times of struggle.   Raising a special needs child presents its own victories and challenges, and parents find themselves in many cases with not only having the same pressures that every parent faces, but increased medical expenses, educational costs, and other specialized factors that cannot be imagined in a routine, typical budget.

When you and your co-parent decide to split, either by divorce or paternity action, there are also special considerations that you need to think about when planning how things will work moving forward.   Typically, child support is determined using five factors: the income of the Mother, the income of the Father, the number of overnight time-sharing that each parent has with the minor child, who pays for day care, and health insurance costs.   But, when your child has medical or psychological needs that are significant, Fla. Stat. 61.30 has several avenues for parents to ensure that the financial needs of the child are going to be met for the long term.     Discussing your child’s mental or physical needs with an experienced attorney is important in the proper calculation of the amount and term of child support for your child.    The attorneys at Wood, Atter, & Wolf, P.A, have represented parents of special needs children in determining if a child support increase, extension beyond the age of eighteen (18) years old, or other factors that may impact the provision of care to special needs children after parents have separated.

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney
Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.
Florida divorce cases involving children, child support cases and paternity cases often provide for support of the children based on Florida Child Support Guidelines in Florida Statute 61.30. However, the guidelines do not address medical expenses regarding the children, except for health insurance coverage purposes. So, how does Florida divide the parental financial responsibility for uncovered medical expenses for the children?

Often, agreements reached by the parties will include language that the parties are required to equally split the uncovered medical bills. These issues recently came up in the Florida 2nd District Court of Appeals, which ruled that uncovered medical expenses should be divided in relation to each parents percentage of income, as in the child support guidelines. Zinovoy v. Zinovy, 36 FLW D34 (Fla. 2nd DCA, December 29, 2010).

So, what does this mean? Florida child support is based on the overall income of the parents. Basically, if each parent makes $5,000 per month, then the overall monthly household income is $10,000 and each parent is 50% responsibility for that amount. So, their children’s uncovered medical expenses would be divided 50/50. If one parent makes $4,000 per month and the other makes $6,000 per month, then the uncovered medical expenses would be divided 40/60. This helps maintain a fair balance based on the incomes of the parents.

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Many clients need immediate help when they first start going through a divorce. The idea that a divorce can take many months to finalize is very upsetting for most people. But there are temporary motions that can be filed to address issues such as temporary child support, custody, possession and occupancy of the marital home and the like. Temporary orders are legally binding guidelines that both parties must follow until the divorce is finalized.

Some common items covered in a temporary divorce order include:

– An agreement not to use the other party’s credit or make a large purchase without advance written notice

In Florida, when parties obtain a dissolution of marriage and there are children involved, one issue is which party will carry the health insurance on the children. If the party who does not have primary timesharing with the children carries the health insurance for the children, he or she will receive a “credit” towards the child support obligation to help cover the cost of the health insurance. As such, it can be a benefit to be the party who sustains the health insurance obligation. However, recently, the government has been exploring the idea of taxing health insurance benefits to employees. Under the current law, employer contributions for health insurance premiums provided for employees are not taxable income to employees, but that could change in the near future. Be aware that if health benefits become taxed as income to the party maintaining the insurance on behalf of the children that this could affect the child support, net monthly income and “credits” provided to the obliging party.

The Florida Supreme Court will be deciding the issue of whether the 2008->Ch0063->Section%20042#0063.042 target=”_blank”>Florida Constitutional provision stating that gays and lesbians and transgendered people in the State of Florida cannot adopt is constitutional. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge, Cindy Lederman, has ruled that the law declaring that homosexuals in Florida cannot adopt violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. The Court in Miami-Dade applied the best interests of the child standard in reviewing the antiquated law and decided that it would be in the best interests of the child if the child remained with the two men who had raised him and cared for him and loved him while he was their child in a foster care situation.
Florida is the only state that bars gay adoption by its constitution. Now that the Circuit Court has ruled the provision unconstitutional, the Florida Supreme Court has stepped in to make a decision on the actual constitutionality of the issue. The case has sparked many concerns and interests throughout Florida and the rest of the country. Recently the Florida Family Law Section of the Florida Bar has gotten involved with the brief process due to the overall interest and best interest standards for children. The Family Law Section is a separate division from the Florida Bar, but many have publicly protested the entry of the Florida Bar in any form. However, the Family Law section feels the need to get involved in this matter due to the overall interests in protecting rights of Florida’s prospective adopting parents, and the rights and best interests of children that are currently in need of a permanent home.

In Florida, when going through a divorce or separation, it is important to get a lawyer that understands the importance of putting down the boxing gloves.

You are ending a marriage and going from love to shuttering at the sounds of her voice or the site of his face, an experienced divorce attorney should take control and guide the client through a constructive not destructive approach. Even though the client may want to “take him for all he’s worth” or “destroy her”, its the lawyer’s responsibility to provide a workable solution especially if there are children involved.

The members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers have proven that resolutions are often reached without the need for trial. In a 2007 poll, 58 percent of its members indicated that more of their divorce cases over the past five years were settled without trial. Only 12 percent said they were resolving fewer cases without trial. In this present economy, it has been shown that there is a clear preference among middle-income clients to reach agreements without a trial to cut down on the costs of the litigation.

Navigating your way through unchartered divorce territory can lead to trouble. Often, paying for a divorce can be difficult, especially when one of you makes little to no money. Normally, one spouse ends up footing the bill and incurring extra expenses while the other spouse pays for very little. What can you do when you’re waiting for the divorce to be finalized??? TEMPORARY NEEDS HEARING is the answer!

In a temporary needs hearing, a judge will look at each party’s income to debt ratio and order a temporary spousal support, child support and marital debt payments. The temporary needs hearing is probably the most important hearing during the dissolution process before finalization occurs. It helps to set the tone for the rest of the divorce process and it also identifies the responsibilities of each party regarding the marital liabilities.

1060924_rail_2.jpg In Florida, rising tides of economic instability play a dramatic role in divorce. During their pending divorce, couples are remaining under the same roof due to the housing market. Divorce lawyers recognize that the marital home has transformed from an asset to a liability. However, the idea of splitting the debt associated with the home can be very appealing.

Divorce is affected by the economy because it plays a roled in factoring spousal support, debt division, living arrangements and tax consequences of the parties. In a Florida divorce, the parties assets and liabilities are divided equally, the marital home is the major asset in most cases. The slow market has created difficulties for the parties because most of the time, the marital home has not sold by the time the divorce is being finalized. With difficult time, often there are difficult questions, divorce is no different. Questions range from: Who is going to be responsible for the mortgage? to Who gets to live in the home while it is on the market? Hard times need creative solutions,just as Congress, and divorce lawyers can help divorcing parties navigate through the muddy waters of the present market.


Florida law requires that all divorcing couples with children have a parenting plan, which includes support obligations for both parents. How do the courts in Florida determine a parent’s child support responsibility? The formula, outlined in Florida Statute 61.30, uses the parents monthly income to figure the total child support payment amount. Then each parent is assigned a percentage of responsibility based on their income as a percentage of the total income of both parents. There are some other factors that come into play as well.

Child care: 100% of child care costs due to employment must be added to the support amount.

Health insurance: Any premiums and ongoing medical expenses not covered by insurance must be added in.

Like trends that begin in Paris, Florida law is sometimes influenced by other states. In New York, a contested divorce is pending between a Long Island, New York doctor (Dr. Richard Batista) and his wife.

A Long Island doctor whose wife dumped him for her physical therapist after he gave her his kidney is suing the mother of three for the $1.5 million that he claims the organ is worth. Having donated his kidney to save his wife’s life in 2001, Mr. Batista feels he is owed compensation for his selfless act.

According to the story reported on Fox News, this is the first of its kind in New York. However, the idea is not so out of the ordinary for many spouses who have provided life through their own body part donations or supported their spouse through tedious treatments and doctor appointments. The concept of compensation for supporting life, when they have been betrayed by the donor is one we will most likely see arise in the future here in Florida.

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