Kennedy Law Associates

Collection of unpaid medical expenses from noncustodial parent

A child support agreement developed between parents in North Carolina sometimes addresses the expenses that could arise for a child's uninsured or unreimbursed medical expenses. These costs represent bills in addition to health insurance premiums, such as co-pays, deductibles, prescriptions or dental and vision expenses not covered by insurance. A child support order could describe specifically when a noncustodial parent must pay a portion of these extraordinary medical expenses. A custodial parent, however, might encounter difficulty collecting payment if the other parent protests the cost or the support order does not clearly address the situation.

Privately approaching the noncustodial parent with a request for money represents the first step. If this does not result in payment, then a parent must use the enforcement system to pursue payment. Deadlines apply to collection efforts. Parents should act as soon as possible and be prepared to present all receipts about the medical care provided. A court might need to intervene when parents disagree about the medical necessity of certain procedures.

If a court agrees that a noncustodial parent must pay, the outstanding bills will be deemed arrearages just like unpaid child support. Enforcement actions could include seizure of tax refunds or wage garnishment.

A person involved in a dispute about paying for a child's medical expenses might want legal representation from a family law attorney. The lawyer could review the existing child support order and explain the obligations that it imposes on the noncustodial parent. If necessary, an attorney could petition a court to collect the unpaid balance if private communications between the parents do not resolve the problem. An existing agreement that does not adequately address uninsured medical expenses might benefit from modification. Legal counsel could approach the court and propose new terms for a post-divorce modification of the child support agreement.

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