Child Support Enforcement: How to Enforce Your Co-Parent’s Obligation to Pay Their Court Ordered Share of Uncovered Medical Expenses

Posted on June 28th, 2015

Child support orders usually allocate to both parents responsibility for their child(ren)’s medical expenses that are not covered by health insurance. The allocation is usually based on the percentage of each parent’s contribution towards their combined net income. In most cases, there is a temporary order or final judgment that requires both parents to pay a portion of the child(ren)’s medical, vision and dental bills. The terms of each final judgment or temporary order will vary. This variance is insignificant but emphasis should be placed on strict compliance with the requirements of the final judgment. Payment of this responsibility is enforceable by contempt so long as the party seeking payment is able to meet their burden of proof. Child support enforcement is an entirely separate proceeding. You should consider hiring Child Support Lawyer in Jacksonville.

If you are interested in pursuing child support enforcement remedies as to your co-parent’s obligation to pay his or her share of your child(ren)’s co-pays, deductibles, and other out of pocket medical expenses then, remember, you have the burden of proof and you must show the court the following:

  • The existence of a valid court order requiring the obligation.
  • You must show that the other parent is in deliberate non-compliance with the court order, and
  • You must also show that the other parent has the ability to comply.

A valid court order can be a temporary order or a final judgment that imposes an obligation of both parents to share responsibility for their child(ren)’s medical expenses not covered by insurance. This provision is usually found in the “child support” paragraph of the order or judgment and the terms of payment can vary. For example, in one case the order may require the parent who takes the child to the doctor to pay the entire bill subject to reimbursement from the other parent. Another case could involve a court order or final judgment that provides each parent will pay their share of the uncovered medical expense directly to the medical care provider. Regardless of the terms of the responsibility, one should pay special attention to the requirement of the final judgment in order to perfect the right to receive payment. If you have questions about child support enforcement, then you should contact an experienced child support enforcement lawyer.

Read your court order or final judgment and make sure that you have complied with it. Just because you take your child to the doctor and pay a co-pay or some other medical expense is not enough. The questions is whether the other parent had notice of his or her obligation to pay. The notice requirement usually places the burden on the parent who takes the child to the doctor to furnish a copy of the medical bill to the other parent within a certain period of time. The parent who did not take the child(ren) to the doctor but who receives a medical bill from the other parent must pay their share of the bill, within a certain period of time either directly to the medical care provider, or if paid, to the other parent.

Deliberate non-compliance with a court order can subject to child support enforcement proceedings and an adjudication of contempt. If you are seeking to enforce your right to receive reimbursement for uncovered medical expenses, then you must be prepared to defend against the other party’s claim that they never received a copy of the bill and did not know about it. Look at the temporary order or final judgment. If it requires the party who incurred the expense to furnish a copy of the bill to the other party within 15 days, then you should make sure you comply. Draft a letter to the other party to send along with a copy of the bill. In your letter you should reference the child support provision of the final judgment. Kindly request that the other party make payment within the period of time specified in the temporary order or final judgment. Make copies of the letter and the medical bill and mail to the other party via certified mail return receipt requested.

If you are unsuccessful in your attempts to secure compliance with this provision of your temporary order or final judgment after following the instructions above then you should consult with an attorney. Make sure you maintain copies of each medical bill together with each accompanying letter. You should furnish these copies of these letters and bills to your lawyer right up front. These letters will help demonstrate notice as well as deliberate non-compliance. Most importantly, following these procedures and hiring an experienced child support attorney may be effective enough to encourage compliance without necessarily having to proceed with a costly enforcement action. The cost of a formal enforcement action could very well exceed the amount in controversy.