Facts: Mother and Father divorced in 2011. Their parenting plan provides that the children’s “uncovered reasonable and necessary medical expenses . . . will be paid by pro rata share in accordance with [the parties’] income[s].” According to the parenting plan, the pro rata share was 100% to Father and 0% to Mother.
The parenting plan further provides that “[a]fter insurance has paid its portion, the parent receiving the bill will send it to the other parent within 10 days. The other parent will pay his or her share within 30 days of receipt of the bill.”
In 2014, Mother filed a motion for judgment against Father for reimbursement of uncovered medical expenses totaling over $25,000.
Father argued he is not liable for the children’s uncovered medical expenses because Mother failed to comply with the requirement that she send those unpaid medical bills to him within 10 days of receipt.
The trial court awarded Mother a judgment for the entire amount of the uncovered medical expenses, i.e., over $25,000, plus her attorney’s fees and expenses.
On Appeal: The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.
The proof showed Father received at least some of the children’s EOB (Explanation of Benefits) statements from the children’s health insurance company. Because Father was responsible for 100% of the children’s uncovered medical expenses, the Court concluded he reasonably should have known he was responsible for all of the children’s uncovered medical bills.
After reviewing the record, the Court reasoned:
Although the parenting plan does set out a timeframe for sending copies of bills as well as a timeframe for paying same, importantly, the parenting plan does not specifically provide that any violation of the time constraints will result in a party being relieved from his or her obligation to pay his or her pro rata share of the children’s medical expenses.
Accordingly, the trial court’s judgment was affirmed.
K.O.’s Comment: One of the main reasons for the timeframe is to prevent uncovered medical bills from accumulating to a point where — like here — the total amount owed becomes unmanageable. Should there be a consequence to noncompliance with the timeframe requirements? If so, what should it be? If not, why have a timeframe at all?
Information provided by K.O. Herston: Knoxville, Tennessee Divorce and Family Law Attorney.