In the hearing before Judge Heather D. Morse last Friday, one of the charges was that I was in contempt of court for not paying an orthodontist bill. My ex-wife, Julie Travers, had brought a motion for such payment in Summer 2010, and the minute order said that the judge ordered me to pay half of the necessary dental bills, but deferred the orthodontics issue to a hearing in Fall 2010.
Julie argued that she got the impression that I would have to pay any orthodontic bill if it were "reasonable", and therefore the burden of proof shifted to me to prove that the bill was unreasonable. When I never proved that at the Fall 2010 hearings, she said that I owed the money.
The judge agreed with me that I was never ordered to pay the orthodontics bill, but that she was prepared to order it that day if Julie could produce proof that the orthodontic treatment was necessary. The judge said Julie could go home during the lunch break and find such documentation, and it would be considered in the afternoon. The judge also said that I would be allowed to submit evidence in the afternoon that the treatment was unreasonable.
After lunch, Julie produced a meaningless orthodontist checklist and a poor copy of some dental xrays. I had no way of producing evidence, of course, but I pointed out that her papers said nothing about the treatment being necessary or even desirable. The judge looked at the dental xrays and said, "I can tell from looking at these pictures that she has too many teeth."
What? I said, "Your honor, are you saying that you have the personal dental expertise to look at some xrays and determine that teeth need to be pulled?" No, she would not go that far. It was a crazy thing to say. While sometimes orthodontists pull teeth because the mouth is too crowded, that does not apply to my child and it is not being done.
I asked Julie for evidence that the orthodontic treatment was necessary, and she said that it was necessary to prevent cavities because kids who don't get braces usually get more cavities.
I felt as if I was dealing with morons. The average person with an IQ of 90 has a better understanding of teeth than either of them.
At the end of the day, the judge found me in contempt of court for not having paid the orthodontics bill. I really do not see how that can be right, when I did not even owe the money until the judge made her own personal diagnosis of the xrays two hours earlier.