Medical Expenses – Getting the Other Parent to Pay their Fair Share

by Sharon Corsentino

When considering whether to file an enforcement action to collect past due unreimbursed medical expenses from the parent of your child, it is important to have everything in order prior to filing. To enforce orders of the court, you must be very specific about each violation the opposing party has allegedly committed.

The clients who are most successful in obtaining a judgment for the full amount they are claiming are the ones who keep impeccable records. While it is quite a burdensome task, it can definitely pay off in the long run.

My advice to clients is to treat your child’s unreimbursed medical expenses like a business.

  1. Open a separate file for the receipts.
  2. Keep a spreadsheet of when you gave notice of the expense to the other party and whether it was paid.
  3. Keep copies of emails or letters you send to the other party notifying them of the unreimbursed expenses.
  4. If you send a notice letter via U.S. mail and it is returned to you as undeliverable, keep the letter unopened. Make a notation on a sticky note to identify the contents of the letter.

It is also very important that you do not hoard the receipts. Send the receipts to the opposing party in a timely manner using the time frames set out in the order. Do not wait to just send them to the opposing party on an annual, semi-annual, or quarterly basis. You must make certain that you are complying with the terms of the orders so that if the opposing party fails to reimburse you, then you can enforce the order.

Sharon Corsentino is an experienced Collaborative attorney, mediator and litigator at Albin | Harrison | Roach in Plano, Texas. She works primarily in the areas of family law, probate, and estate planning. Sharon helps couples to settle their disputes privately, without involving a judge who could impose decisions on them that do not meet their needs. Sharon’s non-adversarial approach generally results in unique settlements that truly address the interests and concerns of all parties.

Dealing with the Child Support Division of the Texas Attorney General

by Marissa Balius

The Attorney General of Texas is the child support collection agency in the State of Texas. Dealing with the child support division of the Texas Attorney General (OAG) can be a frustrating process even for the most experienced attorney. Here are some tips that will help you with the process:

 

  1. Know your OAG number. You need to provide it on all communications with the OAG. It is your identification number with their office. The number should also be on all communication they send you.
  2. If the OAG is reporting you have a child support arrearage (back support payments) and you believe that the information they are reporting is wrong, ask for a child support arrearage calculation from their office. This document will show each payment due, each payment made and any interest that has accrued on the account. Take this payment record and every court order that required you to pay or receive child support to your own attorney to review.
  3. When you call or go into the Attorney General’s office, write the name and title of the person helping you and take good notes of your conversation for future reference. In my experience, they do not always keep good records, and inevitably you will get conflicting information.
  4. The OAG is not a neutral party. If they are involved in your case they have an interest! Discussions you have with anyone in their office are not protected by attorney-client privilege and can be used against you in court.
  5. If you are served with a legal document filed by the Attorney General or receive a Notice of Child Support Review Conference, hire an attorney immediately. DO NOT go to court or attend a Child Support Review Conference without your own attorney. You need your own representative to explain the legal process and advocate for you. If you are unable to retain counsel before your first court appearance or Child Support Review appointment, be careful about what you sign. They may have you sign an appearance of counsel or waiver of service or other document that may seem harmless at the time but may adversely affect your case.
  6. Each child support office has a customer liaison and each region has an ombudsman, a liaison between the public and the child support office that tries to resolve customer complaints. If you are not getting action or the results you and your attorney deem appropriate, ask for the ombudsman’s name and contact information. Lastly, if all else fails, contact your state senator and representative. In the Dallas/Fort Worth area state congressmen have a lot of leverage in dealing with the child support office and in my experience they can get the ball rolling when all else fails.
  7. The OAG sends out a variety of letters: DO NOT DISCARD THEM. Keep everything you receive as many of the letters have time frames to respond, hearing dates and in-office appointment dates and times. The OAG has the power to ruin your credit, garnish your wages and levy your bank accounts; any correspondence you receive is important!
  8. Don’t count on their employees for legal advice! By law, they should not be giving legal advice to either parent, and the information they provide is not always accurate.

If you need an expert to help you navigate through a case with the Attorney General’s office please contact me via email at mbalius@ahrlawfirm.com or by phone at 214-423-5100.

Marissa Balius knows the ins and outs of the Texas Attorney General’s office. She is an experienced family law litigator with sixteen years of experience, including ten years as an Assistant Attorney General in the Child Support Division.

Divorce – Rights vs. Results, by Curtis Harrison

People facing divorce usually want to know what their rights are. Who will get the children? How much child support can be expected? Who is responsible for the credit card debt? What happens to the house? The 401(k)? The list of questions goes on and on.

Yet, the core of these questions is not really about rights. Rather, it is fear of an unknown result. This distinction highlights one of the many advantages of the collaborative method of resolving family law issues:  Spouses become the decision-makers instead of a judge.

It is a novel approach, but it is also supremely intuitive. After all, who better to make decisions regarding a divorcing couple’s children and their finances than the spouses themselves? Even through the pain and the other negative emotions that accompany a divorce, divorcing couples can still make better choices for themselves and their children than a judge or jury. This is where the professional team comes in to help guide the couple through an otherwise overwhelming process. And when the question turns to “What are my rights?” the trained collaborative team of lawyers and neutrals will be there to restore the focus to achieving a result that both spouses find acceptable and in their children’s best interests.

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