If I take her to court for failing to pay medical bills, can she bring up other issues like custody?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

After my ex-wife neglected to take our children to the dentist for years, I scheduled appointments for all of them, which resulted in some out-of-pocket medical expenses that my insurance did not cover. I keep asking for reimbursement from my ex-wife and she keeps ignoring it.

I’m afraid if I involve the courts to get reimbursed for half of the medical costs, that she will bring up other issues and ask to modify the parenting time schedule. What should I do?


The answer to your question will depend on the language in your Judgment of Divorce and/or child support order. One of these documents will dictate what percentage of uninsured medical expenses each party is obligated to pay. The obligation to pay these expenses is a court order and can be enforced in several ways.

You can use the informal dispute resolution available at the Friend of the Court. In order to do this, you would have to file a complaint with the Friend of the Court. After several complaints have been filed they may require both of you to come in and try to settle the dispute.

You can file a motion with the judge to get your ex to pay her portion of the costs. The motion should point to the Judgment or child support order that shows she is obligated and should document your attempts to get reimbursement.

You can also just sit on the bill and use it at a later time. By doing this you risk coming up against the argument that you are using it for the wrong reason and could damage your credibility with your wife or the court.

Your wife can file a motion to change custody or parenting time, but will have to meet the appropriate burdens in order for a change to occur. She will have to offer proof regarding an established custodial environment, and that it is in the best interests of the children for the environment to be changed.

She must file a motion and give you notice of any attempts to change custody or parenting time. You will then have a chance to present your side of the case and hold her to the correct burden of proof.

Although I practice law in Michigan, I cannot give you legal advice without thoroughly reviewing your case. Do not rely on this information as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Contact a managed divorce attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell does represent clients in Michigan.


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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