Fichter v. Fichter
Imagining your daughter or son driving is already a very scary thought for most parents, but, even worse, is your child driving without any sort of car insurance as well. As such, it is important to negotiate that you and your soon-to-be ex will split any and all costs relating to child’s car insurance in your Marital or Property Settlement Agreement.
In the case of Fichter v. Fichter, Mom and Dad negotiated a Marital Settlement Agreement wherein they expressly agreed that they would each contribute to the cost of their son’s motor vehicle insurance. At the time they entered into their Agreement, their son was at driving age. Missing from their Agreement, however, was any provision regarding the issue of funding the car insurance costs for their youngest daughter, who was only 13 years old at the time the parties entered into their Agreement. Four years later, when their daughter was of driving age, Mom requested that Dad contribute towards their daughter’s insurance costs. Unfortunately, Dad refused and Mom was forced to seek Court intervention and request that the Court compel the Dad to pay his proportionate share of the child’s car insurance.
Even though Mom’s motion was unopposed (i.e., Dad did not file any opposition papers to Mom’s application to the Court), the Court noted that despite the fact that there was no response by Dad, it does not mean that Mom automatically “wins” by default. Rather, the moving party (herein, Mom) still must persuade the Court that the relief requested is fair, equitable and appropriate under the totality of the circumstances.
The Court, therefore, analyzed Mom’s request and specifically noted the following: “a court may in its discretion find good cause to deviate from the guidelines and require each parent to contribute additional reasonable and affordable monies towards a newly licensed teenage driver’s car insurance.” The Court found that Mom’s request for both parties to contribute to the proposed insurance coverage for their daughter was reasonable and ordered that Mom and Dad share the cost equally (on a fifty-fifty basis). The Court noted that the daughter was still a minor and in high school and as such, she will not be required to pay for her own insurance. Nevertheless, the Court did state that the parties are encouraged to discuss the concept of the daughter contributing an equitable portion of the premium once she turns eighteen (18) years old, such as one-third of the premium costs, or any other mutually agreeable amount, in order to help teach the realities of financial responsibility.
Ultimately, it is important for your attorney to include provisions regarding your child’s car insurance and requiring your spouse to contribute same in your settlement agreement, regardless of the age of your child(ren). Nonetheless, in the event your Agreement is silent as to the contribution of car insurance, Ziegler, Resnick & Epstein will help you get the contribution that you and your child deserve and are entitled to. We will help you receive a contribution from your former spouse towards your child’s car insurance, over and above the standard “guidelines-level” child support.