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Does my ex-husband have to pay half of medical bill?

Saint Louis, MO |

We live in MO. I have primary custody of my 17 year old son. My ex-husband covers him on his health insurance (court order). My son was injured in PE last year and had to have knee surgery. I took him to the hospital. There is a balance after insurance of $1400. My divorce decree states that all medical bills are to be paid 50/50. I made payment arrangements with the hospital and have been paying my 1/2 of the payments, but my ex-husband has not paid any of his (even though we discussed it and he agreed to). The hospital tells me I am liable for the full amount and they will not try to collect from him. Is that accurate? I've given them a copy of the divorce decree and they tell me I have to pay and collect from him. Is this correct?

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Attorney answers 1


As a general principle of law, the parents are liable to the hospital for a child's medical bills. The hospital doesn't care where the money comes from, they just want to get paid. They can come after both parents or either parent. As between two divorced parents whose decree requires them to split medical bills fifty-fifty, that's between the two parents. A hospital is not limited to only collecting fifty percent of a bill from each parent. Can you imagine if the hospital had to get into the details of the divorce decree for each child of divorced parents? That would be just nuts. Or let's imagine one of the spouses is broke. That wouldn't, that shouldn't, mean the hospital can't collect half of the bill for the services it rendered. The general principle is, each parent is on the hook for the WHOLE BILL, and then, between themselves, they settle up according to the bill-splitting provisions in the decree.

Not legal advice, just my two cents based on general principles of law. I don't practice law in Missouri and don't hold Missouri licensure. If you need legal advice, please consult a lawyer who does.