Thursday, February 26, 2009

Grant County Medical Expenses Local Rule

Let us take our review of local rules to Marion, Indiana. Grant County rule on medical expenses has two points that need examining. Here is the first:

5. If presently effective, or if available through their place of employment, both parents are ordered to pay the premiums and maintain the children on a health insurance policy, exchange insurance cards, and cooperate with the filing of health care claims for the children. The custodial parent shall be responsible for, pay and document all uninsured health care expenses, including but not limited to medical, dental, orthodontic, hospital, optical, psychological, addiction counseling, and services, prescription and non-prescription health care items, and other physical, mental or emotional health-related expenses for the minor children up to 6% of the basic child support obligation set forth on line 4 of the Child Support Obligation Worksheet. The parents shall then be responsible for and pay any such uninsured medical expenses in excess of said amount at the rate of: father ____%, mother ____%. Example: If the basic child support obligation on line 4 if $200, the custodial parent would be responsible to pay $624 per year in uninsured health care expenses before such expenses would be shared by the parent by the above percentages. [$200 x 52 = $10,400 x 6% = $624.]
What I see here duplicates Indiana Child Support Guideline 1. H.. Which makes it a bit useless as a local rule. If you look at the Child Support Worksheet, you will see that it provides for the percentages set out in this Rule.

For me, the following contains the more important parts of this Rule:
For the purposes of the payment of uninsured expenses after the 6% amount has been paid, the custodial parent shall, within a reasonable time for the receipt of a statement for health care, send a copy of such statement to the non-custodial parent for the payment of the non-custodial parent’s share within 30 days. The non-custodial parent shall then be responsible to pay and hold the custodial parent harmless for the non-custodial parent’s share of that statement; or, if the amount of the statement was paid in full by the custodial parent, reimburse the custodial parent the non-custodial parent’s share of that statement within 30 days.
No other county in my area has such a rule. The first question I have for my clients when they want to file contempt for failing to pay medical expenses is this: have you sent the bills to the other party? A party cannot be held in contempt for failing to medical expenses without their knowing about the bills.

Now comes the sticky part of the Rule, where the paying parent might lose the ability to get reimbursed for unpaid medical expenses:
The custodial parent may bring a contempt action if not timely reimbursed. It frequently is difficult to fairly determine the issue of unpaid health care expenses when a substantial period of time has passed before the issue is brought to the attention of the Court. Therefore, if contempt proceedings have not resolved the payment of health care expenses, the following procedure applies:
A. No later than April 15th of a year they shall determined the proper allocation of payments.
B. In the event that the parties are unable to agree, the aggrieved party shall file with the court a petition for the payment of medical expenses on or before July 1st of that year.
C. Unless good cause is shown, failure to file to enforce the court’s order by July 1st shall be deemed a waiver for the payment or reimbursement of medical expenses for the proceeding year.
D. Any person who unreasonably fails to settle the allocation for health care costs and who thereby causes the other party to incur attorney fees to resolve the issue shall be sanctioned by the imposition of those fees as a part of any court proceedings.
Grant County residents have a time table to settle accounts. Do not settle them by July 1 without a good reason and you are stuck with the bills.

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