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

Dear J.M.:

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 comply with 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 § 4063(b)(2)).

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 cause...."

T.W. Arnold, CFLS