Q. The judge is my case recently refused my request that my ex reimburse
me for uninsured health costs for our two children that have run up over
the past two years. Is this right?
J.M., La Quinta, California
You don't provide much information but I am assuming one of two likely
situations: (1) there is no order that either parent is to be reimbursed
for uninsured health care costs that they advance or (2) you failed to
Family Code section 4063(b).
In the first situation while most judges, when they make child support
orders, automatically state that each party is ordered to pay one-half
of all unreimbursed "medical, dental, visual, and orthodontia (and
also possible counseling services)" sometimes they don't - particularly
if they are new to family law - or, if they do, the court clerk fails
to put it in the minutes.
It is up to you, ultimately, to ask for this type of order per
Family Code section 4062. Note that nothing says that these must be split 50-50, and it is hard
to imagine why they should if Dad's income is $5,000 and Mother's
is $1,200, for example. Yet judges will adopt an even split by default
unless you speak up.
In the second situation, section 4063(b) requires that "when either
parent accrues or pays costs pursuant to an order under this section,
that parent shall provide the other parent with an itemized statement
of the costs within a reasonable time, but not more than 30 days after
accruing the costs." In my experience most people are unaware of
this requirement, and some judges enforce it. Failure to notify the other
parent that you advanced these costs within 30 days may deprive you of
the right to recover this reimbursement.
Unfortunately neither the court forms, nor judges with they first issue
orders in open court, alert people to this. The statute makes it clear
that these types of orders for additional child support
should reference 4063 (See FC § 4063(a)(1), (2)).
You should read section 4063 if you have medical reimbursement issues.
Assuming a parent gives proper notice that they advanced all or part of
the medical expense, that notice is also required to include proof of
payment and a request for reimbursement (FC § 4063(b)(1)). If you
have paid only your one-half (or such other percentage as was ordered
by the Court), then provide proof of payment plus a request to the other
parent pay their share directly to the health care provider (FC §
The other party then has 30 days to reimburse you or to pay their share
to the provider directly. (FC § 4063(b)(3)). If they dispute a request
for payment, they must first pay the amount anyway and then file a motion
for relief under
Family Code section 290 (FC § 4063(b)(4)). There is no mention of a time limit in the Family
Code, but I urge you to seek reimbursement orders every few years and
to perfect them before your child reaches the age of 18.
Either parent can file a motion under this section - and "the court
may award attorney's fees if it finds that either acted without reasonable
T.W. Arnold, CFLS