Medical/Therapy bills

My wife left me 6 months ago, we have no separation agreement in place. She has been taking our child to a doctor for recurring (non-emergency) treatment which I’m not certain is needed. The hospital bills were in her name as she signed for “consent to treat”. Recently she had the hospital send the bills to me, in my name. I understand that these bills may become joint marital debt in the future by order of a judge, my question is: Is it legal (in North Carolina) for the hospital to simply transfer responsibility of these bills to me without my consent? Can they make collection attempts, reports to my credit record etc.? If it’s not legal, what steps can I take to protect myself?

In general, am I liable for bills she generates during our separation? We currently hold no accounts together. Thank you.

As the father of the child you do have some financial responsibility and so the hospital may send the bills to you. If support (any payment of medical bills ) has not been established by a formal agreement , or court order you need to have this done in order to protect yourself from excessive liability for these expense.

You are not liable for post-date of separation debts incurred by your wife in her name.

I find myself in a similar situation. I am divorced with a separation agreement. We have shared custody of my 9 year old son who primarily resides with my ex-wife. In the agreement I am responsible all medical expenses for my son as my ex-wife does not work.

My child is very healthy and incurred very little medical expense during the marriage. However, since our divorce my wife takes my child to the doctor at least once or twice per month for unnecessary treatment. She also has the child in counseling 1-2 times per week when it has not been ordered by a physician. Upon speaking with the counselor even she agrees that the amount of visits is extreme and that my ex-wife is taking advantage of the situation. However, the counselor doesn’t feel she is in a position to discuss this with my ex-wife and limit the number of sessions.

I would never deny my child any type of necessary medical treatment or counseling he needs. However, my ex-wife is purposefully running up excessive medical expenses in order to “make me pay” and says there is nothing I can do about it.

My ex-wife charges these expenses to her credit card and then sends me the receipts for reimbursement. Since January I have incurred almost $1600 in medical expenses. The majority of these expenses come from the excessive counseling visits. The majority of the time I am not even made aware that my son is going to the doctor/counselor. I’ve tried many times to discuss this issue with my ex-wife and requested she notify me prior to medical visits, but she laughs and says I have no say so and that if I do not pay she will sue me.

My separation agreement simply states: “…husband will maintain medical coverage and be responsible for all medical expenses for the minor child…”

This is a very broad statement with no language on how expenses are determined paid/reimbursed.

  1. Do I have the right as a father to be fully involved in medical decisions for my son?

  2. If I do not agree with medical care/counseling expenses my ex-wife incurs that are not deemed medically necessary by a physician/psychologist am I required to reimburse my ex-wife or pay for the cost of these excessive expenses?

  3. Is counseling considered a true “medical expense” if it is not deemed medically necessary by a physician or would it fall under “behavioral health” which is not stated in my separation agreement?

  4. Can I notify my ex-wife that I will no longer reimburse her for medical expenses but will pay providers directly in order to try and offset some of these excessive medical expenses?

Thanks for your help. This is a great site.

If you have joint legal custody of your son you do have the right to be involved in the decisions related to his health and well being. The language in your agreement is certainly vague, and I can’t say for sure how a judge would interpret the same as related to the mental health expenses.

You may notify your wife that you will pay the providers directly from now on, as the agreement does not outline a specific method of payment.