Children’s health disagreements in joint custody arrangements

divorce lawyer Tamara HoffstatterQuestion:

My child needs braces, yet my ex-wife is refusing to pay her portion of the uninsured costs as outlined in our divorce judgment. Per our child custody agreements, we share joint legal custody so we have joint decision-making authority on children’s health issues.

She claims she cannot afford it now and wants to wait another year, but the cost of the braces plan is only going to go up. She has not expressed any other concerns other than financial since she knows our son needs braces.

What are the child custody laws if I were to have the braces placed on our son and simply file a request with the court to enforce our health cost agreement?

Answer:

There are several ways you could go about accomplishing your desired outcome in your divorce and child custody case.

Are you able to work something out with your ex-wife whereby you agree to pay for the braces now and she makes mutually agreed-upon payments to you over time?

Since her only real concern appears to be money, this might be an option, particularly since the cost for the braces is expected to go up over the course of the year.

If you are not able to work out something informally, then your best alternative is to file a motion with the court and allow the court to make the determination of whether the braces are to be placed now or later, and how your ex-wife is going to pay for the same.

If you were to go ahead and get the braces put on without your ex-wife’s consent, this could be seen as a violation of your divorce order regarding your joint decision-making authority for your child.

Also, since your wife did not agree, it might be very difficult to get a court to compel her to pay her portion since this was a unilateral decision on your part.

I have not seen the language of your divorce decree and cannot speak to specifics, however, it is always a good decision, when possible, to get the court’s clarification on these issues.

If you need advice on divorce, or wish to take specific action in this matter, you need to contact an attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell does represent clients nationwide.

To schedule an appointment with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Tamara Hoffstatter, an attorney in the Troy, Michigan, office of Cordell & Cordell, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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