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.


Logic doesn’t drive the Divorce Train

We’ve all seen news accounts about the financial nightmare called divorce. You may have heard tales of woe that go something like this: “The Smiths just got divorced and John told me it cost over $100,000 – for each side!”

Such a price tag might draw a yawn or a snicker from the blue-blooded family dynasty members, the technology titans, and the Hollywood elites. But for the vast majority of the so-called “working wealthy” (i.e. those who have been labeled by the taxing authorities as “rich” but who still have to work five to six days a week to pay the mortgage) an expensive divorce would devastate the family’s financial future.

Divorces don’t have to cost the equivalent of a college education, nor should they. So why is it that some do? Why do otherwise rational people consciously choose to put their financial future and their children’s into a potentially terminal nose-dive? The simple truth is that they fail to take ownership of the fact that divorce is not a rational process for the participants. It’s an emotionally-driven one.

People in the midst of a divorce make emotional (read “irrational”) decisions almost as frequently as you or I might accelerate through a yellow light – and with about as much forethought. For example, a judge recently told me about a trial in which the husband took a gallon of white paint and literally walked up and down the wife’s closet pouring paint all over her shoe collection. What was the logical reason for that?

In another case the parties argued over every knife, fork, and spoon in the house, and even placed values on the picture frames – separate from the pictures themselves. At the conclusion of the trial one of the parties filed a motion for new trial because she wanted a lamp that the judge had awarded to the other party. What was the logical reason for that?

Examples like these defy reason because the decisions are rooted in emotion – negative emotion. Left unchecked, these negative emotions tend to manifest themselves in every-increasing acts of lunacy that divorce lawyers call the “crazy cycle.” Once the spouses step onto the crazy cycle the legal meter starts spinning faster than your electric meter. Phone calls, emails, letters, motions, depositions, hearings and trials – they all take the lawyer’s time, which means they all cost you money. What is the logical reason for that?

To make matters worse, the traditional method of getting a divorce, which is called litigation, actually exacerbates the problem by intentionally pitting the spouses against each other in an arena we call a courtroom. In some cases the arena seems to more closely resemble an M.M.A. grudge match than a crucible for truth. Litigation, by its essence, encourages the parties to attempt to destroy each other emotionally and financially. What is the logical reason for that?

Logic doesn’t drive the divorce train. It’s an irrational, emotional process from start to finish. But that doesn’t mean it has to be ugly or costly. Even some of those Hollywood elites are choosing to step off the crazy cycle:

If you are facing a divorce, beware of the crazy cycle, beware of litigation, and beware of divorce lawyers who seem a little overly eager to wage war on your behalf. You do have options and you can avoid or at least minimize all three dangers briefly outlined above with a little foresight, quality solution-oriented professional guidance, and some self-discipline. Properly trained and experienced family law attorneys can serve as professional guides through the minefield. They can match clients with financial experts, counselors, or pediatric therapists as appropriate in order to minimize the collateral damage typically wrought by divorce.

If you would like to learn more about those options, including the non-adversarial Collaborative Law approach to resolving family law disputes, please contact us by email or call me at 214-423-5100.

Curtis W. Harrison, Collaborative Attorney
Board Certified – Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Albin | Harrison | Roach; 5601 Granite Parkway,Suite 400; Plano, Texas 75024
Telephone: 214-423-5100; Fascimile: 214-423-5111

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