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Monday, November 02, 2009

CSSA Mandatory Award of Health Care Provisions Amended

Laws of 2009, Ch 215, effective October 9, 2009, amended the Mandatory Award of Health Care Expenses Provision of the Basic Child Support Obligation, contained in Domestic Relations Law § 240 (1-b) (c) (5), the Child Support Standards Act.

(For a comprehensive discussion, download "Mandatory Health Care Expenses" by Joel R. Brandes at http://www.brandeslaw.com .)

Former Domestic Relations Law § 240 (1-b) (c) (5), and Family Court Act § 413, subdivision 1 (c) (5), which were amended in 2009, required the court to prorate each parent's share of the reasonable health care expenses of the child, where such expenses are not covered by insurance, in the same proportion as each parent's income is to the combined parental income. They provided that the noncustodial parent's pro rata share of such health care expenses was to be paid in a manner determined by the court, including direct payment to the health care provider. Laws of 2009, Ch 215 § 2. (See also Family Court Act 413, subdivision 1 (c) (5), Laws of 2009, Ch 215 § 1). Former Domestic Relations Law § 240 (1-b), subdivision (c) (5) was repealed and a new Domestic Relations Law §240 (1-b) (c) (5) was added. It provides, in part, that:

” The court shall determine the parties' obligation to provide health insurance benefits pursuant to this section and to pay cash medical support as provided under this subparagraph.”
"Cash medical support" means an amount ordered to be paid toward the cost of health insurance provided by a public entity or by a parent through an employer or organization, including employers or organizations which are self insured, or through other available health insurance or health care coverage plans, and/or for other health care expenses not covered by insurance.

It also provides, in part:

(v) In addition to the amounts ordered under clause (ii), (iii), or (iv), the court shall pro rate each parent's share of reasonable health care expenses not reimbursed or paid by insurance, the medical assistance program established pursuant to title eleven of article five of the social services law, or the state's child health insurance plan pursuant to title one-A of article twenty-five of the public health law, in the same proportion as each parent's income is to the combined parental income, and state the non-custodial parent's share as a percentage in the order. The non-custodial parent's pro rata share of such health care expenses determined by the court to be due and owing shall be support arrears/past due support and shall be subject to any remedies provided by law for the enforcement of support arrears/past due support. In addition, the court may direct that the non-custodial parent's pro rata share of such health care expenses be paid in one sum or in periodic sums, including direct payment to the health care provider.
(vi) Upon proof by either party that cash medical support pursuant to clause (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v) of this subparagraph would be unjust or inappropriate pursuant to paragraph (f) of this subdivision, the court shall:
(A) order the parties to pay cash medical support as the court finds just and appropriate, considering the best interests of the child; and
(B) set forth in the order the factors it considered, the amount calculated under this subparagraph, the reason or reasons the court did not order such amount, and the basis for the amount awarded.

Former Domestic Relations Law § 240(1)(d) and Family Court Act § 416(f), which provided for the proration of costs between the parties where private health insurance is ordered, were amended at the same time to provide that the cost of private health insurance, or the cost of any premium, family contribution, or health expense incurred as a result of enrollment in the State Child Health Insurance Program or Medical Assistance program shall be deemed “cash medical support.” Each parent's contribution to the cost of such coverage is to be determined under the amended provisions of and Domestic Relations Law § 240 (1-b) (c) (5) and Family Court Act § 413, subdivision 1 (c) (5). Laws of 2009, Ch 215 § 7 & 8.

Family Court Act §§ 514 and 545, respectively, were amended to provide that the necessary expenses incurred by or for the mother in connection with her pregnancy, confinement and recovery shall be deemed a cash medical support obligation and the court must determine the obligation of either or both parties to contribute to the cost pursuant to Family Court Act § 413. Laws of 2009, Ch 215, §§ 7 & 8.

CPLR 5241 was amended to provide that a Deductions to satisfy current support obligations shall have priority over deductions for the debtor's share of health insurance premiums which shall have priority over any additional deduction authorized by CPLR 5241 (g). Civil Practice Law and Rules 5241 (h) as amended by Laws of 2009, Ch 215,§ 12, effective Oct. 9, 2009.