“As part of the divorce decree, can the court require my husband to pay for medical and dental expenses?”

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The short answer to this question is yes. However, consistent with most legal topics, the answer is a bit more complicated and little details can be significant. For instance, in one case where the husband had substantial independent assets, a court in the State of New York ruled that the husband pay all medical and dental bills along with maintaining all medical-health insurance for the benefit of the wife.

In another New York case, despite the husband having substantial assets, however, a court in New York ruled that regardless of the husband’s income and assets, a court in New York cannot order medical and dental expenses in a way that creates an “open-ended obligation.” The court emphasized that a provision which required the husband to “pay all unreimbursed balances for medical and dental expenses” was improper because it was simply too vague and encompassed too many costs.

Although income and assets are important considerations, along with the specificity of the provision, the reality is that courts in New York State have wide discretion in these matters. The outcome of a particular case may depend on which jurisdiction you live in as well as the particular judge assigned to your case. In most cases, it is best to work out an agreement with your spouse. Although it may not be easy, the end result will most likely be far more beneficial to both parties.

 

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