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What can be done if legal parent plan stating joint decision on medical etc. is not being followed?

Mesa, AZ |

father and mother have joint custody and medical/school decisions are supposed to be made together. Both are responsible for 50% of unpaid medical expenses not covered by ins. If mom leaves father out of decision making process and purchases braces or designer eyewear without consent of father, is he obligated to pay? Example: a $450 pair of glasses are purchased for an 11 year old when they could have gone to Walmart and bought comparable frames for under $100.

Attorney Answers 3


If the parties have Joint Legal Decision Making Authority (fka Joint Custody) than the only medical decisions that either party would be authorized to make on their own would be in case of emergency, and then only if the other parent could not be contacted.

Father would have a positive defense to not paying for cosmetic expenses, such as those described, if they were for non emergency situations and even more-so if he was not consulted.

Further, medical decisions are major decisions that mom does not have the right to make on her own, even if she is willing to pay the costs. Joint Legal Decision Making Authority (fka Joint Custody) means that dad has equal say.

I would suggest that you consult an experienced family law attorney.

Good luck!

Patrick Sampair
The Sampair Group, PLLC

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You could have an argument for the reasonableness of the expense of the glasses. If the braces are deemed necessary by the orthodontist then you would have a hard time showing a court why you should not be responsible for 1/2 of the cost.

I am only licensed in Arkansas. No part of this answer should be construed as creating an attorney client relationship.

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Thanks. I am not trying to get out of paying. The point is that we have joint decision making and I don't usually have any involvement other than getting slapped with the bill. When both parents have legal decision making about medical and dental together and one is left out completely, what can be done?


Ultimately this is a question of whether the expenses are considered to be reasonable by the judge. The judge will also consider the fact that you were not consulted prior to their purchase. You raise valid points that can be argued in court. Good luck.

Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Massachusetts. Responses are based solely on Massachusetts law unless stated otherwise.

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