Medical Expenses and Divorce
What Medical Bills Are You Responsible For in a Divorce?
When you’re considering getting divorced in Michigan, you might take into consideration the custody of children, the division of assets, and even child support. It is imperative that you hire a Downriver divorce expert when you are considering filing for divorce in Wayne County.
Whether you are in the process of getting divorced, or your divorce is already finalized, disputes with your spouse can be costly. One of the most often disputed expenses between spouses and ex-spouses are medical bills.
Typically after a Michigan divorce, one spouse is not responsible to pay for medical expenses for their ex. However, there are some exceptions that divorcing partners may need to consider, including the medical expenses of their children. The responsibility for a child’s medical care after a divorce can depend on a number of factors.
Below, we’ve outlined the most common ways medical costs are handled in Michigan divorce settlements. We’ll also discuss ways you can make sure your divorce settlement is fair.
Which Medical Debts are Also Marital Debts?
While you may not be required to pay for ongoing medical care for your spouse, medical debt that is incurred during your marriage is considered marital debt. Even if your partner is the recipient of the care!
If you sign any documents stating you will pay for a medical bill before, during, or after your marriage, you are liable for the debt if your spouse does not pay. For example, if your partner has a surgery that costs $30,000 and you sign to pay for some of the costs while you’re married, you are still on the hook for the debt after you divorce. You will be liable if your spouse stops making payments.
In some states, under what is called the “doctrine of necessities” one spouse can be compelled to pay for the medical care of another. In Michigan, this is considered unconstitutional.
In Michigan, a debt incurred during a marriage is a marital debt, even if you are separated and did not know about the debt until after it was incurred. However, in most cases, medical debts incurred by an ex-spouse prior to or after the marriage are individual rather than marital debts.
Who Pays a Child’s Medical Costs After a Divorce?
In my years as a downriver divorce attorney, I have been asked this question many times. While you may not be responsible for your ex-spouse’s individual medical care, you will be at least partially responsible for your child’s medical expenses.
How do parents divide up that responsibility? If one parent is paying for the health insurance of a child, that is factored into the child support calculation.
How are a Child’s Uninsured Medical Costs Calculated?
Health insurance does not cover all medical expenses a child may incur. These costs can sometimes include prescription drugs, co-pays, glasses and contacts, braces, and visits to specialists. These are considered to be “ordinary” uninsured costs by Michigan courts.
The child support “formula” used by Michigan courts presumes that a child will incur ordinary uninsured healthcare costs in a particular amount each year. That figure is currently $403 a year. If you pay child support, part of what you pay is assumed to go toward these uninsured expenses.
What If My Ex Refuses to Pay Child Support?
If your child’s other parent is refusing to pay court-ordered child support, then the court can impose enforcement measures. You will definitely need a downriver family law expert to petition the court on your behalf.
Enforcement measures can include wage or tax return garnishment, placing a lien on real or personal property (such as a home or automobile), suspending their driver’s license, or charging the non-paying parent with contempt of court.
How Are Other, or “Extraordinary” Child Medical Expenses Calculated?
But even when court-ordered child support is paid, a dispute may arise when a child incurs medical costs beyond what is considered “ordinary.” A court may increase the standard amount for uninsured healthcare costs when the court is aware that a child will incur higher expenses.
When a child’s uninsured healthcare expenses surpass the annual “ordinary” figure, parents share the cost of those expenses based on each parent’s percentage of their joint total income.
Each parent is responsible for that percentage when extraordinary medical expenses are incurred – unless they mutually agree to another arrangement.
Making The Other Parent Pay a Fair Share
What happens if one parent declines to pay his or her share of a child’s extraordinary medical costs? Michigan law regarding a parent’s refusal to pay a child’s extraordinary medical expenses is exceedingly complicated, but this is what is required:
The parent seeking reimbursement must send a reimbursement request to the other parent within four weeks of the date that the insurance company has paid on the cost or denied payment. Put the request in writing and keep a copy for yourself.
This means one parent must pay the full amount and then seek reimbursement from the other. If the other fails to pay, the paying parent must submit the bill to Michigan’s Friend of the Court agency within six months for that agency to enforce payment.
If your spouse refuses to pay his or her share of your child’s extraordinary medical costs, seek the advice and guidance of a downriver divorce attorney who can make sure that you meet the deadlines and requirements – and that the court acts on your behalf.
Divorced parents need to keep records of their children’s healthcare expenses. Make and store securely copies of all medical bills, receipts, and related documents. If the other parent owes you, keep track of exactly what is owed and be able to produce the documents to prove it.
How Can a Downriver Family Law Attorney Help You?
To ensure that you are treated fairly both during and after a Michigan divorce, the right lawyer’s help is essential. Even if you are only considering divorce, or if you anticipate that your spouse is about to file for divorce, speak as early as possible to a Michigan divorce attorney.
The right divorce attorney can answer your legal questions, address your concerns, and provide you with sound legal advice and guidance regarding matters that include the division of marital property and assets, spousal support, child custody, and child support.
If you are divorcing – or disputing with your ex-partner over healthcare costs after a divorce – a good attorney’s help is your right. If you are seeking reimbursement from your child’s other parent for healthcare expenses, the law in Michigan is on your side. Contact the Mitten Law Firm today.
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