Ask A Lawyer Question:
I am running into some problems with my ex-wife in relation day care expenses. I am court-ordered to pay 60% of the expenses. We have a 50-50 joint custody agreement and are supposed to notify one another in a timely manner about everything concerning our daughter.
My ex sent me an email saying I owe the day care money and that it was due 10-days prior to her sending me the email. The day care will not discuss the bill with me at all; the account is only in my ex’s name and they will only deal with her. I had paid up through the end of the month and do not know why she thinks I owe even more money. I have nothing to show for a bill, just my ex’s email.
Since I am court-ordered to pay a portion of the bill. Is the day care required to provide me with a copy of the bill?
Should I go to court and ask my ex to provide this…if so, then what do I take her to court in regard to (what is the charge) and should I include the day care provider as well for refusing to show me a bill I am legally responsible for?
Ask A Lawyer Answer:
While I am not licensed to practice in your jurisdiction, I can provide you with some legal guidance regarding the issues you present in your question.
If the day care facility was not a party to the legal proceeding that obligated you to contribute to your child’s day care expenses, then it is unlikely that the facility is required to provide you with a copy of the bill.
First, I recommend that you ask your ex-wife for a copy of the statement for which she is demanding payment. If she refuses to provide a copy of the statement, then I recommend that you review the terms of the court’s order.
Carefully review the document to determine whether your ex-wife is required to provide with you any documentation showing the expenses incurred on behalf of your child for which you are ordered to contribute. If the order is silent as to whether your spouse is required to show you evidence of the expenses incurred, then you may consider arguing that the intent of the order is that you are only obligated to pay such expenses that are actually incurred on your child’s behalf. Therefore, if the day care facility refuses to provide you with a copy of the bill, and your wife refuses as well, then you could argue that you simply have no method of confirming that the expenses were actually incurred on your daughter’s behalf.
If you elect not to pay your wife, however, then you risk her taking you to court for contempt of the court’s order. If you decided to file a legal action against your wife with respect to the day care expense confusion, then you would probably need to file a complaint for declaratory judgment, in which case you would request that the court clarify the order and your legal responsibilities under the terms of the order.
I would not recommend that you file an action against the day care facility. Based on the information that you have provided, it does not appear that they have any legal obligation to provide you with any information, even if you are obligated to contribute to the expenses the facility charges for caring for your child.
As I stated previously, I am not licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Therefore, I recommend that you seek the advice of a local attorney that is more familiar with the procedure, custom, and practice in your jurisdiction before you take any legal action.