Divorced Spouse Not Paying Child's Medical Bills

By Heather Frances J.D.

When you divorced, your divorce decree probably laid out the requirements for your ex-spouse to pay a share of your child’s medical expenses, and it can be difficult to pay these bills when your ex-spouse doesn’t pay that share. You can enforce the terms of your divorce decree in court, including the provisions regarding your child’s medical care. Since child support is governed by state law, procedures vary by state.

When you divorced, your divorce decree probably laid out the requirements for your ex-spouse to pay a share of your child’s medical expenses, and it can be difficult to pay these bills when your ex-spouse doesn’t pay that share. You can enforce the terms of your divorce decree in court, including the provisions regarding your child’s medical care. Since child support is governed by state law, procedures vary by state.

Child Support Order

A child support order, often issued as part of a divorce decree, will usually address each spouse’s obligations for medical expenses. Generally, the order will address which parent is responsible for providing medical insurance for the child and how that insurance is paid. The order likely will state what percentage of medical bills each parent is responsible for paying if certain medical expenses are not covered by insurance.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

State Agencies

Every state has an agency designed to assist parents with collecting child support, but if your ex-spouse is otherwise current on his child support payments, the agency likely cannot help you enforce the medical portion of your divorce decree. State agency enforcement authority is typically limited to past due child support. Since medical coverage is not part of the monthly child support payment, the agency may only be able to send letters to your ex-spouse.

Court Enforcement

You can file a motion through the court system to try to recover the amount your ex-spouse owes for medical care. Generally, the motion must be filed with the court that issued your divorce decree or most recent child support order. The court can hold your ex-spouse in contempt of court, which means he violated the court’s order regarding medical bills. Contempt of court can be punished by fines and jail time. Once you file the motion, you must serve a copy of the motion on your ex-spouse, along with a summons. Your ex-spouse has the right to respond to the motion to dispute anything you said in it. Ultimately, the court may hold a hearing to receive evidence from both sides before making a decision. The judge may want to see copies of the medical bills or other proof of expenses.

Small Claims Court

Depending on the amount of money your ex-spouse owes, you may be able to file a case in small claims court if you paid the medical bills and need reimbursement from your ex-spouse. Small claims courts usually have a limit on the dollar amount they can handle, but the process is much simpler than a normal court procedure. The court will give you forms to fill out on your own since the system is designed to allow claimants to proceed without a lawyer.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to File a Motion to Enforce Child Support in Texas

References

Related articles

Changing Divorce Decrees in Minnesota

A Minnesota divorce becomes final when the divorce decree is signed by a judge, entered into the court record and 60 days have passed without an appeal. However, the divorce decree — including child custody and spousal support — can be modified after the decree is final, with the original court retaining authority to reopen the decree. Modifications, for any reason, require filing motions with the court and your ex-spouse will have an opportunity to respond by filing his own court motions on the issue.

How to Request a Child Support Order Be Decreased in Texas

If you lose your job, you become ill or your child's healthcare expenses go down, courts in Texas may decrease the amount of child support ordered. However, Texas courts can only change your obligation to make future payments, not missed payments you already owe. You must act quickly if you find that you cannot make your payments to avoid falling far behind.

Can Alimony Be Paid Directly to the Ex-Spouse & Child Support Through Child Support Enforcement?

When couples divorce, the court may issue a divorce decree ordering a spouse to pay child support and alimony to the other spouse. Typically, the divorce decree describes the manner in which payments must be made. Courts may direct that alimony be paid directly to the recipient spouse while child support is paid to the recipient spouse through the state’s child support agency. However, if these arrangements do not work well for the parties, the court may permit alternate arrangements.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to Enforce Divorce Judgments in Illinois

Your divorce decree governs many issues between you and your ex-spouse including child custody, child support, spousal ...

How to Enforce a Breach of Contract in a Divorce

In the process of getting your divorce, you and your ex-spouse may have made an agreement – sometimes called a ...

How to Enforce a Divorce Decree Without an Attorney

Achieving a divorce decree you can live with is sometimes just the first part of the battle. Fortunately, the law is ...

Can I Sue My Ex-wife for Breaking the Divorce Decree?

Divorce decrees often contain details about property division, child custody, child support payments and alimony, but ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED