I pay the medical insurance for the children and split uninsured expenses with my ex-wife.
She recently left the doctor’s office without paying for uncovered expenses that she had requested services for and I had to pay to cover for her.
I would hope I could be given the option for approval of services before receiving surprise bills. What legal options can I take to ensure this situation does not occur again?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Nebraska and Iowa divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.
When a court order exists, the parties must follow the order or risk a possible Contempt or Show Cause Action. Your ex-wife violated this order by failing to pay her 50 percent.
In the event you are to share in decision making for unnecessary medical procedures, she again violated the order by making a decision without you.
A party who has not followed the order and apparently refuses to do so will be asked to appear in front of the judge and explain, or “show cause,” why they should not be held in contempt of court for their failure to follow the court order.
In order to be held in contempt in my jurisdiction, it is the burden of the party who has been aggrieved, to show that such failure to follow the order was both “willful” and “contumacious.” It is imperative you explain to the court that you were not included in the unilateral decision and she left the office without paying.
Should the court find the party who failed to follow the order is in contempt, then they will be punished. As to the contempt proceeding, in every jurisdiction I practice in, the punishment is different and is somewhat based on the individual judge’s preferences.
It can result in payment of the outstanding money owed, fines, a date to come to into compliance, attorney’s fees, and in rare occasions, jail time. A judge typically has discretion to determine what the best option is when a party is in contempt, and it typically depends on how long the contempt has been going on and how egregious he finds the actual acts.
If your order fails to include a provision regarding shared decision making you may need to modify your order to include this provision to keep her from making unilateral decisions with surprised expenses.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction.