Many clients of mine often come to the office complaining their ex-spouse and/or child(ren)’s parent has not reimbursed them for all of the out-of-pocket expenses they’re incurring for the child(ren)’s health care. Small bills for things like prescriptions, regular doctor’s visits, eye glasses, teeth cleaning, etc. can add up… Ten dollars here, thirty dollars there often adds up to thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket medical expenses over the years. So what are you to do to make sure you’re in line with the Court’s order regarding the notice you give to the other party regarding these out of pocket expenses? And what can you do to make sure those expenses get paid?

The general rule for notifying the other parent about an expense owed is that you must provide the other parent a copy of the form, receipt, bill, statement or explanation of benefits within a specified amount of time after you receive it. Check your court order to make sure you know and comply with the time period listed.  For example, if you take your child to the doctor, and the doctor mails you an invoice after the visit, you should notify the other parent of his/her obligation to pay for half of the expense (or whatever portion of the expense is listed in your Order) within the specified time period after you receive the bill. Another example – if you pay for a prescription for your child(ren) at your local pharmacy, and pay for the prescription when you pick it up, you must notify the other parent of his/her obligation to pay within the specified time period after making payment for the prescription. In turn, the other parent has a set amount of time to either remit payment directly to the health-care provider or reimburse you for the out-of-pocket expense.

Be forewarned, keeping track of all unreimbursed medical expenses can be somewhat time consuming. But, if you spend time on the front end of the process, you will have a much easier time presenting the information to the Court should the other parent not reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses owed.

An idea for keeping track of unreimbursed medical expenses is to scan and email all bills/receipts/etc. to the other parent as they are received, and keep a folder through your email of all notices. You could also make a quick spreadsheet listing the date of the expense, the date of notice to the other parent, the person/entity to whom money is owed and the amount. Then, if the time comes when you must take the other parent to court to recoup the money owed, you will not have to pay an attorney to gather/prepare all of the information to present to the Court. Another option is to register for an online communication site called Our Family Wizard. Through this site, you may provide notices and copies of all bills/receipts/etc. to the other parent, and the website keeps track of all communications.

Whatever method of providing notice you choose, it is best to be diligent about doing so in case there comes a time when court intervention is necessary.