November 2010 Newsletter




Uninsured medical and dental expenses are those expenses that are not covered by health and/or dental insurance.  They may include deductibles or co-payments imposed by the insurance plan for non-elective, reasonable, necessary, uninsured medical, dental, pharmaceutical, optical, orthodonture, and psychological expenses.  The current child support guidelines obligate the custodial parent to be responsible for the first $250.00 of uninsured expenses for the unemancipated children each year, with the Parties equally sharing any remaining expenses incurred.  In some cases, and in some courts, the Parties agree and/or are ordered to equally share all the uninsured expenses.  The obligation to pay such expenses for the children continues in effect until emancipation.


It is important that specific guidelines be clearly established as to what documentation is required, such as receipts, cancelled checks, or other form of payment, to verify that in fact such expenses have been incurred.  It is advisable to agree when the documentation is submitted, either monthly, quarterly, or such other time as the Parties agree.


Finally, it is essential to determine how many days the other Party has to pay his/her share of the children's uninsured expenses.  Depending on the specific circumstances it could be fourteen (14), thirty (30), or such time as the Parties mutually agree.


In most cases each Party is responsible for his/her uninsured medical and dental expenses.  If there are unusual and/or extraordinary situations, the Court may obligate one Party to pay the other Party's expenses.



Child related issues, such as custody, support and visitation are usually considered to be the most important, and most litigated issues in a divorce matter.  It is also extremely important to correctly address the issue of health and dental insurance coverage for unemancipated children, and both parties.  Massachusetts residents are required to maintain health insurance coverage.  In most situations, one of the Parties provides the health insurance, and perhaps dental insurance as well, through his/her employer.  He/She is the subscriber.


The "family plan" is the plan most employers offer to employees.  As long as the Parties are married, there is usually no issue as to coverage, for either the Parties and/or the children, until the children become emancipated, and/or are no longer eligible for coverage under the existing plan.


However, divorce proceedings can, and usually do, affect health and dental insurance coverage.  Once divorce proceedings begin, Parties should obtain information regarding their present health and dental insurance coverage, and whether he/she will be eligible for continued coverage at the time the divorce is final.  Do not assume your coverage remains intact, and/or that you will automatically have continued coverage.  That decision is often not made by the subscriber spouse, but by the health insurance plan terms.


Health plans may be fully insured or self-insured, and divorcing spouses must be aware of what type of plan is providing coverage.  Health insurance benefits are provided in one of two ways:  Employers purchase health insurance from an insurance company, that is fully insured plans, or they provide health benefits directly to the employees, as self insured plans. 


In fully insured plans, the employer pays a per employee premium to an insurance company, and the insurance company provides health coverage for insured events.  It is the insurance company who determines the scope of the coverage.


In self-insured plans, the employer acts as its own insurer, and does not purchase health insurance from an insurance company.  Self-insured plans often contract with an insurance company or other third party to administer the plan, but it is the employer, not the insurance company or third party that bears the risk.  Since the employer is the insurer, the company can determine the scope of coverage, including eligibility status, and non-qualifying events.  A non-qualifying event may be a legal separation or divorce, that would or could make one Party ineligible for continued coverage.  Most self-insured plan coverage will terminate for the non-subscriber spouse as of the date of the divorce absolute, or date when the divorce is final.


Parties would be wise to obtain information as to whether the spouse providing health insurance is covered by a fully insured or self-insured plan.  That information is routinely provided pursuant to Mandatory Disclosure Rule 410.  If it is not provided, it should be requested.  Once the information and eligibility requirements are disclosed, the Parties will be able to negotiate an appropriate provision for health insurance coverage.  Parties are advised to see an attorney to obtain further information regarding this important item.



1.     That cases in the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court are heard by judges, and not juries?
2.     That Plymouth County was created on June 2, 1685, and named for the English port city of Plymouth?
3.     That the Plymouth Probate Court was established on June 2, 1685?
4.     That the Plymouth Probate & Family Court has records dating back to 1633?
5.     That Governor William Bradford was elected 30 times to be governor?
Issue: 21

scales of justice

In This Issue
Who Pays the Uninsured Medical and Dental Expenses for the Unemancipated Children and the Parties?
Will Your Health Insurance Coverage Continue After the Divorce is Final?
Did You Know . . .?



The most festive time of year is here.  It is a time for family gatherings, gift exchanges, and of course, delicious food.  For the past two years, the office has donated the cost of cards and postage to the Abington Food Pantry instead of sending holiday cards and greetings to our families, clients, and colleagues.  This year we have decided to once again make a donation to the Abington Food Pantry.  The Food Pantry serves the Abington community, providing food and toiletry items for those in need.  We hope our donation will help others who need assistance at this time.  If you wish to support his worth organization, or others on the South Shore, please click here for information.


Paula, Rachel, and I wish you and your families Happy Holidays, and hope the New Year brings health and prosperity to everyone.

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If anyone has a topic that would be of general interest, please do not hesitate to contact the office and let us know what items would be of general interest to the readers of this newsletter.
Susan C. Ryan, Esq.
Law Office of Susan Castleton Ryan, PC
(781) 982-8850

This newsletter is designed to keep you up-to-date with changes in the law.  For help with these or any other legal issues, please call our firm today.
The information in this newsletter is intended solely for your information .  It does not constitute legal advice, and it should not be relied on without a discussion of your specific situation with an attorney.