If your child needs physical therapy but your ex refuses to pay for it, you should first look at is the divorce decree as well as any subsequent orders regarding visitation and support issued after the initial order. Previous orders will state what your ex is obligated to pay. Usually this is half of all necessary medical costs not covered by insurance. If the decree states that you or your ex must carry insurance on your child, bills should be submitted to the insurance company first.

The next thing you should do to document your ex’s refusal to pay for half of your child’s medical expenses after the insurance company has paid what they are obligated is to send a copy of the bills to your ex so that your ex can see what he or she is expected to pay. It is a good idea to send a letter along with the bills with an itemized list of costs listing what your ex is expected to pay as his or her half. That way, you can show the court that your ex has received notice of what bills needed to be paid.

If your ex was ordered by a court to pay for half of all necessary medical expenses and refuses, he or she could be held in contempt of court. If found in contempt, possible penalties include fines, court costs, attorney fees and even jail time. Jail time is usually considered a last resort, reserved for individuals who have repeatedly disobeyed court orders, when the judge feels that there is no other way to enforce the order.

To enforce the obligations set forth in previous orders, you will need to file a contempt action in the same court where the divorce or previous orders were granted. Be aware that if you bring an action against your ex, he or she may retain a lawyer and countersue you if there are any related claims, such as visitation or custody issues that need to be addressed by the court.

Once an action is filed, your attorney may be able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement so the bills can be paid and your ex can avoid other penalties. If you must go to court, you will need to bring copies of related bills and medical records with you to show what was not paid and why the treatment was necessary.

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