In my divorce decree, I was ordered to pay 50% of extra medical expenses when submitted to me by my ex. Is there a timeframe/Statute of Limitations for her to submit these? I recently received a request for the past 5 years of extra expenses and want to take a position that is supportable in court. Is there any general protocol that one should follow when submitting requests for payment regarding things decided in court? What are the chances that I can make payments because the lump sum would really hit me hard right now?
Requiring each parent to pay half the uncovered medical expenses is a customary provision to assure that the children get appropriate medical care while attempting to provide a cost containment mechanism under which both parents incur medical expenses knowing that the expenses will be shared. However, many such provisions fail to provide any specifics as to how the reimbursement process will proceed. If your court orders do not specify a mechanism, you may wish to seek a court modification to dictate a time frame for being provided the request for reimbursement and also requiring your ex to provide the billings showing what services were performed at what cost and what has been paid, the insurance explanation of benefits, and proof that your ex has paid (and not otherwise been reimbursed for) the entire bill for which she seeks reimbursement. If your court orders do not set forth any limitations on what you have to pay for, such as over the counter items, orthodontia, or elective/cosmetic procedures, you may wish to consider having those issues reviewed as well.
Assuming your current court orders do not set forth any controlling provisions for the reimbursement process, your ex has the burden to prove what medical expenses were incurred, what insurance paid, what your ex actually paid, and whether your ex or the provider is due any payment from you. A careful review of the information is required to determine the actual debt after insurance mark downs or write offs or employer co-payment/deductible reimbursements to your ex. While not often an issue, you may wish to challenge paying for medical equipment or services that do not appear to be warranted or appear to be overcharged, particularly if the insurance denied payment as uncovered, experimental, in excess of the customary charge, or not medically necessary. An attorney experienced with these issues may be able to identify any problem areas that you may not catch in reviewing documents from the last five years. A qualified domestic litigation firm, such as Cordell & Cordell, could assist you as to determining the amount currently due and options for modification of your court orders under the laws and practices of your State to address future expenses.
The provision to pay the medical expenses may be considered a judgment under the law of your State, with 20 years being a fairly common timeframe for enforcement, although a shorter period may apply. If the provider has not been paid, pay the provider instead of your ex, as the provider might still pursue you for any balance unpaid by your ex. Payment options vary by State, with interest usually accumulating on the balance.
Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.
Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues.