Rhode Island Divorce vs. Rhode Island Separation
Rhode Island Divorce Tip: Work with Your Spouse!

Rhode Island Divorce - Medical Bills and Medical Expenses in Divorce

Rhode Island Divorce Question:

I am a mother who was awarded placement of my son, Theodore, by a Rhode Island family court judge at a hearing on Temporary Allowances.  The judge also ordered that while we sort out the entire divorce I am responsible for 1/2 of Theodore's medical bills and my husband is responsible for the other half.

After the order, Theodore got sick and I took him to the doctors and he was given a regimen of antibiotics.  I tried to explain to the doctor's office and the pharmacy that my husband had to pay half by the court order in our Rhode Island Divorce but they both made me pay the full co-pay for the appointment and prescription. 

I called my husband and told him he needed to pay me back half of the amounts I paid for our son per the divorce court's order.  He asked me to send him copies of the doctor's receipt and prescription receipt.  I sent him  the copies a week later.  I've waited another week now and I haven't received a dime from my husband.

Theodore has two follow-up  appointments coming up.  I just can't be footing the bill for all of this money up front.  What is going on?  How is this supposed to work?

Rhode Island Divorce Tip:

Your situation is an understandable one.  You are certainly not alone.  Many mothers and fathers who have placement of their minor children by a Rhode Island Divorce Court order find themselves in this situation.

Typically, the placement parent has the children and is the primary caretaker of the children.  As a result, parents often respond instinctively.  Parents don't typically pull out there divorce file and all the Orders that may be in it in order to analyze what they should do.  In fact, the thought of a parent doing that when his or her child is sick is somewhat absurd.

What a placement parent will do is to take the child to the doctor and get the child his or her medicine, just like you have done! 

Placement has its benefits.  As the placement parent, you have the benefit of being the person to be the primary caretaker of your child and have a substantial influence on their upbringing.  You often have the benefit of child support, and medical coverage or a medical financial contribution from the parent with visitation.  In the end, if you are the placement parent, you are very likely to get the tax deductions for the minor children in your care if the court makes such an order.

The point of explaining this to you is to help you understand that what you have describing is one of the small detriments that comes with being a placement parent.  It is usually referred to as "presentment". 

As the placement parent, typically it is the expectation that you pay for the medical costs upfront and then send copies as proof of payment to the other spouse so that (in this case) he has proof of the costs and can pay his 1/2 of the legitimate expenses that you have paid and a reasonable time to pay his (or her) share.

Providing the copies of the actual bills that have been paid and that the other parent is required to pay some portion of is known as "presentment". 

Typically courts will allow thirty (30) days as a reasonable presentment period (amount of notice by sending copies of the actual bills that that placement parent paid) to give the other parent the opportunity to make payment.

It should be noted that this is only a rule of thumb, that judges have discretion in this regard, and the amount, ages of the bills ,and the ability to verify the bill may all come into play.

In this case it is reasonable to allow thirty (30) days after the non-placement parent receives the proof of the bills for the non-placement parent to make payment pursuant to the Rhode Island Family Court's order.

Please note that this assumes that the information in the question is accurate.  Each person's situtation is different and other factors may affect the response to this question if the questioner has left out pertinent facts.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

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