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Lucy, Esq.
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I am in Wisconsin. The parenting agreement between my ex and

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I am in Wisconsin. The parenting agreement between my ex and I states that I am required to carry insurance on the kids (currently at no cost to me), but if at any time I have to pay for it, she needs to pay half. It also states either party is to carry insurance if the cost is reasonable. I have since taken a out of state job - the insurance - while at no cost doesn't cover much in our area and doesn't offer dental or vision insurance. I also have gotten remarried. My wife has been paying for the dental and vision for my kids for 2 years without reimbursement from my ex. She states she is not obligated to pay it since it's through my wife. My wife's medical insurance is expensive, but offers an extremely low deductible and offers pretty much an open option of who any of us sees.
I know that when I present to my ex that we are switching insurance and she will have to reimburse us half of the premium (even if I pro-rate half of what employee and child would be vs. family coverage) she will state that she doesn't have to pay it because my wife's children are on it and therefore our kids don't cost anymore. My logic says in 2 years when my wife's kids are no longer on our insurance - the cost will be the same because mine are on it - so why shouldn't she have to contribute??
Do I have a leg to stand on? Can I have it enforced to get her to pay for half or require her to put our kids on her own insurance (which is reasonable cost- she just doesn't want to lose the buyback she gets)
Or am I stuck having to keep the kids on the insurance that is at no cost with horrible coverage/deductible? My current wife's children really don't ever go to the doctor so either plan isn't going to affect them one way or the other. My kids however go on a regular basis for therapy, chiro, and medical issues. I don't think it's fair that she is court ordered to contribute by carrying insurance but refuses, and uses my current wives children as justification for not having to pay for insurance she would benefit from as much as I would. I would much rather see her put insurance on the kids herself (in addition to me covering them) since I know that it would benefit her at tax time - but she doesn't see it that way. She just sees the loss of the buy back money she gets.
What are my options? I really am trying to avoid going to court because she has already expressed that if we go back to court she is going to ask for a modification that would include not only the current child support I pay (1180/mo), but also a 50% order on all expenses related to the kids activities - including my not limited to birthday parties the kids go to, and every whim activity she wants to sign them up for. I only have the kids every other weekend (when she isn't scheduling out of state trips with them on my weekends) I make about 20k more than her - but even I have a budget I have to live within and she sees me as a personal ATM. I want my kids to have the world - but I can't print money. Hence why I'm trying to find a way to reduce the cost of our medical bills.... I'm grasping here - there has to be some REASONABLE solution??? Right??


I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

If your wife is paying for the insurance by having it deducted from her paycheck, that's the same as you paying for it. Her income is a marital asset - it's legally your income, too. Your wife DOES have to reimburse you for that money. There are two ways to approach this. One option is to file a Motion to Clarify, asking the judge to issue a ruling on whether she should have been paying these amounts all along and whether she needs to pay going forward. The other option is to file a Motion for Contempt, asking the judge to find that she's in violation of the court order and to punish her. The motion to clarify is slightly less adversarial, and it's possible your wife would join you in a joint motion asking the judge to rule. The primary benefit to a motion for contempt is that you may be able to request attorney's fees from her for making you go back to court. Check your court order to see if that's authorized.

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Customer: replied 11 months ago.
THANK YOU!!!! I'm glad to know that I'm not being unreasonable in my thinking.
Considering my work does offer my insurance at no cost to me - can she use that a reason to not have to pay anything, or is it at my discretion to pick which insurance I want to carry?
Do I need to go through a lawyer to have a motion to clarify, or is that something I can do myself?
Does the motion to clarify allow me to request half of the premiums we have paid for the last 2 years, and then file for contempt if she doesn't comply? Also - do you know if the courts take into consideration that the premium is higher for 'family' vs employee with child? (as in she would only have to pay half of the employee +child vs half of family coverage.
I don't want to go into this asking for something unreasonable. But I also am tired of being taken advantage of when it comes to what I'm paying.

If you're required to provide dental and vision as part of the insurance, and the free plan doesn't have those things, she can't really claim that you needed to take the free plan that leaves them partially uncovered. And if the free plan doesn't provide coverage at doctors in your area, that's another reason, but look at whether the judge imposed any minimum standard of care for the insurance in the order - like if it needs to be substantially similar to what you were giving them before the divorce. if it doesn't say, then you can argue that you couldn't get free substantially similar coverage and see what the judge says.

You don't need a lawyer to file, but it could help to get one. A Motion to Clarify runs the risk that the judge will only say she needs to pay going forward. A Motion for Contempt would require her to pay dating back to when your wife started paying. What you're asking is perfectly reasonable.

The judge would do the math to ensure that your ex isn't paying part of the cost for your current wife's insurance or yours.

Did you have any other questions about this?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I'm so sorry, things got a bit hectic around here and I forgot to close this out. I did have one last question. Do you know the average cost to file for clarification of i go through a lawyer? And is that something that we actually have to go into court for, or is it just a paperwork thing where we file and get paperwork back from the courts?

I'm afraid we can't give average legal rates, because they're so different in every city. My best recommendation is to call a few lawyers and ask for estimates, then compare - both rates and how you felt talking to them. If you use the Wisconsin Bar's referral service, they can't charge you more than $20 for a consult.

The judge will probably hold a hearing if she objects to your motion, but if the two of you submitted a joint request, it's more likely that you could get just an opinion without going to court.

Lucy, Esq. and 5 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thank you! You have been an immense help.

You're welcome, and thank you!