By: Allison Schreiber Lee

It’s very frustrating to try to co-parent with a parent who won’t help pay for your children, but in determining what your ex should or should not be obligated to pay for, you have to take a step back and ask two questions: Did they agree or were they ordered to pay the expense in the first place, and is it an expense the child cannot live without? The answer to those questions determines your next move.

The second question is really the easier one to answer: If the expense is something your child cannot live without (non-elective medical care for example), your spouse is obligated to pay the percentage set out in the parenting plan. Enforcing that obligation is a different story, however, and I usually advise clients to keep track of the non-payment for these essentials, and when the amount reaches a certain dollar amount that would warrant the cost of an attorney litigating a motion, call your attorney about filing a motion for contempt.

The first question is a little trickier. If your ex did not agree to an expense, it is difficult to make him/her pay his/her portion of the expense. Take a pony for example: If your child wants a pony, and you think the child should have a pony, and you buy a pony without asking your ex, you can’t make him/her pay for the pony’s upkeep. Look at it from the other side: If your ex bought a pony for your child and you didn’t agree to it, you would certainly not agree to pay the expenses for that pony. It’s the same argument with a car for a child, or an expensive camp, or an expensive prom dress, etc. You can’t force the other person to pay for something they did not agree to; and, really, you would react the same if the tables were turned.

Determining what your ex may have to pay for is a question often best answered by an experienced family law attorney. The family law attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. can help you navigate these issues and steps to take for enforcement.

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Allison Schreiber Lee

Allison Schreiber Lee

Allison Schreiber Lee is a seasoned trial attorney and has been lead counsel in more than 40 jury trials. In 2011, Ms. Schreiber Lee was co-lead counsel in one of the longest jury trials in the history of the City of St. Louis. Ms. Lee has also tried more than 100 non-jury trials to verdict, including representation in divorce and modification hearings.
Allison Schreiber Lee

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