Navigating through the ins-and-outs of a divorce can be tough. There are often expenses that arise that you may not have initially thought of—your child’s car insurance payment is one of them. Child support laws vary greatly by each state, so it’s important to check your own state’s guidelines when trying to determine which parent is in charge of covering a child’s car insurance. Some guidelines cover just the basic necessities, while others are a bit more detailed.
A basic child support payment does not typically cover things like extracurricular activities, college expenses, medical insurance and/or uninsured medical expenses, which are generally agreed upon within a settlement agreement. This includes car insurance.
Who Covers the Child’s Car Insurance Coverage?
Car insurance companies will generally require a parent to list their child on their insurance policy if that child is a licensed driver living in their home. In that case, the burden can often fall on the custodial parent (the parent with the most custody time). If the parents share joint custody, it’s typically whichever parent has the most custody time, or the parent that has the child the most during the school year. Usually, but not always, this is the parent receiving the child support. Some companies even require parents sharing joint custody to cover the child on both policies.
The parent required to list the child on their insurance may not always be the same parent in charge of paying for the car insurance. Again, states vary greatly, but car insurance is not typically covered within a basic child support order, which means you must negotiate it as part of a settlement agreement during the divorce.
Many Take the Mentality That Child Support Should Cover Everything
There’s a misconception that once the non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent child support, then the non-custodial parent no longer has to pay anything else for the child. Child support is not a one-time payment and you’re done. It’s meant to cover basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing and other basic living expenses while the child is with the custodial parent. Unplanned or un-thought of expenses inevitably always come up.
Let’s be reasonable though. Parents can come to an agreement before the divorce is finalized. It doesn’t make sense to require the custodial parent receiving child support to carry the burden entirely by himself or herself. Think of all the other costs the parent has to use the money for: groceries, food, clothing, uninsured medical expenses, small incidentals, and many others.
Remember, child support is for the child, but that money can go towards providing a roof over your child’s head. So often times, a basic child support payment is not enough money to cover all the expenses of a child. This is why divorce is expensive!
Who Gets to Make the Decision About Driving?
Coming up with the money is typically the bigger issue, but at some point the parents have to decide whether their child should begin driving. What happens when one parent wants the child to drive and the other doesn’t?
Just as it is with adults, driving is considered a privilege and no child is “entitled” to drive. The decision will be entirely up to the parents. Which means a judge typically won’t force a parent to pay for a child’s car insurance.
If an agreement truly can’t be reached, the parents can always request the court to intervene and settle the disagreement for them. Most courts don’t like being involved in small issues like this, so it’s best to come to an agreement between yourselves or with the help of your family law attorneys. If the issue is brought before the judge, it’s going to be on a case-by-case basis.
Authored by Ashley Roncevic, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law