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Dad blames his ex-wife for his son’s ankle surgery and wants her to pay—is he wrong?

Boy with ankle bandage
ia_64/Getty/Reddit

There’s just never a dull day on Reddit, where currently, a set of divorced parents are locked in a dispute over their son’s medical expenses. The dad posted to the site’s “AITA” forum to ask if he’s in the wrong for blaming his ex-wife for his son needing ankle surgery—and for expecting her to foot the bill (pardon the pun).

The dad wrote that his 16-year-old son, Austin, sprained his ankle in a soccer game, and after visits to urgent care and an orthopedist, was told to stay off it and rest for at least six weeks. However, Austin claimed to be “miraculously” better when he had the opportunity to dance in a school rally. Dad didn’t want him to participate, since doctor’s orders said to stay off his hurt ankle, but his mom said it was OK.

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“I said okay. But you’re paying any medical bills whether you met your deductible or not,” the dad wrote. “They did the class dance-off last Friday and I did go. It was obvious Austin was in pain. At the end, I asked if he was okay and he said yes. At the end of the school day he texts me and asks if I can pick him up because he can’t walk on his ankle.”

So Dad took Austin back to the orthopedist, who confirmed that the sprain was now worse and that a ligament was torn. Surgery was the best option for treatment, and Dad told Mom to hand over her insurance treatment, and that he wouldn’t be contributing to the $3,000 co-pay for the ankle surgery.

“That’s on her. She told him it was okay to do the dance thing after I said no. She said that was not fair. I said too bad. This was all totally preventable,” he wrote. “She said I’m obligated to pay half and I said take me to court then.”

This situation is definitely a bummer, and while commenters agree with the dad that in principle, this should be on the mom who gave their injured child permission to dance when he should have been following his doctor’s advice to rest, they smartly pointed out that these parents need to follow their custody agreement. In follow-up comments, the dad admitted that their custody agreement requires them to pay 50/50 on any medical expenses before their deductibles are met.

“Then you’ll lose. It won’t cost her really much to get you to pay half in court,” one commenter wrote. “Also, he was originally hurt in your custody no? Seems like you’re playing a very dangerous game.”

Another pragmatic commenter said what really needed to be said here: “Neither of you stood up to the 16-year-old and told him not to do it, or that there would be consequences. So pay up. Split it 50/50, since it’s both y’all’s fault.”