What to do if my ex won’t pay for his share of children’s doctor bills?

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What to do if my ex won’t pay for his share of children’s doctor bills?

My divorce says that both parents are to split 50/50 the children’s doctor bills. But when I send receipts to my ex, he ignores them. My attorney advised me to “just keep sending him the letters and receipts…when it piles up to enough money…then you can take him to small claims court.” I have every receipt and very good records. He now owes me $1,500 and I think I want to sue. Do I need an attorney? Seems the attorney/court cost may outweigh what I hope to receive. Also, I am told that my ex might “choose” not pay even if the judge orders him to. How is that possible? My ex has plenty of money.

Asked on February 1, 2011 under Family Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Overall, your attorney seems to have the right idea: if your ex will not pay, you can sue him to enforce the agreement--but it has to be worthwhile doing so. While an option is to represent yourself in court--including possibly in small claims court--so as to make the cost-benefit ratio come out better, the better option is to have an attorney represent you. One possibility, if the ex's behavior is sufficiently egregious (no legal leg to stand on; doing this to harass you; etc.) is that you may be able to recover attorney's fees if you have to sue; it's something worth discussing with your lawyer.

The ex cannot *legally* choose to not pay. That said, if he's willing to face the potential consequences--greater economic damages; possibly some imprisonment for contempt of court in certain circumstances--and/or has done a great job of hiding his income and assets, he may choose to ignore a court order and take his chances.


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