Modify Legal Custody

by Laura from Florida

My ex-husband has not been paying for court ordered health insurance for over a year and has just informed me that the dental insurance is not being provided either.

He has no job, and does not support my efforts in providing our son with medication that is suggested by his Psychologist which would improve his learning ability in school.

He does visit with our son regularly on weekends and sends child support once a week, however, he's several weeks behind from previous months of child support. I have already reported this and the state has followed up on his payments.

Since I am now the sole provider for the child beyond my court-ordered responsibilities, am I able to file for sole legal custody so I can make decisions regarding the child's education and health issues without needing input from his father?

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear Laura,

Most of the child custody and support orders which I have seen that order one or the other party to pay for medical insurance includes the language -- "if available".

Medical insurance is not available to many Americans, and if your ex has not access to medical insurance, it is unreasonable for him to be obligated to pay for your child's medical insurance without an employer provided plan.

It sounds like he is making a reasonable effort to pay his child support and be a part of your child's life.

I suggest you ask that he pay his fair share of the out of pocket medical expenses. These medications can be very expensive and it sounds that your child really needs them.

These are difficult financial times for many. And if he is truly unable to pay, then do you really want to punish him for that? After all, he is your child's dad. But, you have that right to ask the court to compel him to pay.

As far as changing your designation about parental responsibility, you may be able to change it from "shared parental responsibility" to "shared parental responsibility with decision making authority". To make that change you need to file a Supplemental Petition for Modification with the clerk of court and have him served with it.

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