Bucy v. Bucy

579 A.2d 117
Brief Filed: 2/90
Court: Connecticut Court of Appeals
Year of Decision: 1990

Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 199KB)

Issue

Whether expense incurred in psychotherapy for the treatment of eating disorders are "medical expenses" within the meaning of a separation and support decree

Index Topics

Psychologists' Scope of Practice/Reimbursement for "Mental Health" Services

Facts

As part of a divorce decree, a father was required to pay all medical, dental and orthodontia expenses for his minor children in excess of a certain amount per year if not covered by insurance. One of the children developed severe eating disorders for which the mother sought treatment by a licensed psychologist. The bills for treatment amounted to more than $10,000. The father refused to pay any of the outstanding bills, claiming that the services were not medical expenses as contemplated under the divorce decree because they were not provided by a physician. The trial court found that the father was required to pay for the treatment. The father appealed that decision.

APA's position

APA submitted an amicus brief arguing that the trial court correctly interpreted the judgment and dissolution as requiring the father to pay for treatment for a child suffering from anorexia, bulimia, and adjustment disorders because: (1) the term "medical expenses" is commonly understood to include psychologists' services for serious disorders; (2) the parties' reasonable intent was to include the services; and (3) treatment for anorexia and bulimia was a medical expense. The brief also argued that sessions with the mother to aid the child's treatment were valid medical expenses.

Results

The Connecticut Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's finding that services by a psychologist in treating bulimia and anorexia were medical expenses and that the treatment rendered was a necessary part of the overall treatment of the child.