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Dentist Dad Balks After Ex Demands To Split Son’s Dental Bill When He Could’ve Done It For Free

Boy with mouth open being examined by dentist.

Going to the dentist can be a stressful situation for many people.

Nobody likes pain, and dentists have a knack for causing it.

But besides the pain, there is the expense.

Dentistry is not cheap.

So having a dentist in the family can be a great thing.


Redditor TAnyrhf wanted to discuss his experience and get some feedback. So naturally, he came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

He asked:

“AITA for not wanting to pay for my son’s dentist?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“My ex-wife, Lena, and I have a son, Matt (6 M[ale]) and I have 50/50 custody.”

“We don’t have such a… healthy co-parenting relationship, we avoid each other most of the time and everything in relation to the routine, and Matt, we resolve it through an app.”

“All expenses related to our son, such as school, doctors, and others, we split 50/50.”

“I’m a dentist to be clear.”

“And until last year, before we separated, I took care of my son’s dental needs.”

“Recently, she sent a message to me through the app, letting me know that the dentist appointment was X amount and for us to pay 50/50.”

“I asked if some emergency had happened, and she said no, it was just routine. I asked why she didn’t just let me know, and I would take care of it.”

“Her response was that now she has her own dentist and went through him since our kid was with her, and it would be easier.”

“I agreed, but asked what the point is because it would literally be free if it was done by me.”

“She kind of snapped at me and said she expected payment from me.”

“I replied that I would see because I don’t refuse to pay for anything for Matt, especially for health reasons, but a stupid expense like that doesn’t make sense and she can afford it, if she simply prefers to pay for something that I do for free.”

“She was not happy, she said that this was an expense for our son that we agreed to share and I was refusing to do so, considering that I am his father and that she was not obliged to choose me as a dentist.”

“We do have an agreement to split 50/50, but, for me, this is the most absurd expense she had charged me because I would understand if it was some emergency thing or outside my specialty.”

“But a routine appointment…”

The OP was left to wonder:

“So AITA?”

Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Many Redditors declared OP was NOT the A**hole.

“NTA. Yes, she is mom, but this is a medical decision.”

“Changing doctors should be something that is agreed on, not done unilaterally.”

“I would look at the SPECIFIC verbiage of the divorce decree.”

“Do you have rights regarding medical care?”

“Are you listed as his dentist?”

“This sounds like she is deliberately just trying to make you pay extra – even if she has to pay extra to make you do so.” ~ nunya_busyness1984

“Agreed. She’s definitely doing this because she knew OP would make a stink about it.”

“Who in the world, especially at this time, would pay extra for something someone would do for free!!?” ~ Willow_you_idddiot

“This. I wouldn’t pay one cent until I have seen an itemized bill for the services rendered to his son specifically.”

“And even at that, I still wouldn’t pay a cent because it’s pretty dumb to take your kid to another dentist when their dentist parent can and will do routine s**t for free.” ~ amber130490

“I’m pretty sure OP can tell from the dental bill total, as a dentist himself, whether his ex-wife is piggybacking her dental work with her son’s.”

“If she is doing this, she’s night the brightest, considering she knows her ex-husband’s line of work.”

“Six-year-olds don’t need, as a rule, extensive dental work.”

“Also if they share everything 50/50 (including custody), dad can more easily do his son’s exams, etc. when he has physical custody of him.”

“He’s actually saving the ex-wife time and money doing this.”

“She’s being a petty Patty. NTA.” ~ Bigstachedad

“This is what I was thinking, but I also wonder if she’s doing this because she wants a written/texted record of OP refusing to pay his half of the cost of their son’s dental care.”

“This way she can drag him back into court and use it against him, should she be so inclined.”

“I’m probably overreacting here but from my perspective, this situation feels a bit too much like a setup for my liking.” ~ liamsmat

“Could be. OP should be very careful in their response and make sure to include the fact that they had agreed he would perform all the dental work for their son at no expense to her.”

“As this is not an emergency or specialist procedure, she should have discussed changing the arrangement and not unilaterally done so.”

“Framing is everything.”

“A simple refusal can be used to make him look like he won’t cover expenses.”

“Bringing up the existing arrangement makes it clear that he was actually going to cover it 100% and she is the one who is being unreasonable.”

“And if they really have 50-50 custody, I imagine scheduling the cleaning would have been very simple as he has plenty of time with his son, so that wouldn’t be the issue.” ~ 24-Hour-Hate

“NTA. You state you have 50/50 custody, so I’m going to assume that means you also have joint decision-making.”

“Changing doctors would definitely qualify under that.”

“Since you have 50/50 and you’re a dentist, maybe just be the one to keep on that and make sure the cleanings and routine stuff is done on your time.” ~ Disastrous-Nail-640

“I agree… NTA… but ethically should you be treating your own son?”

“Drs typically don’t treat their own family.”

“I get it that you can do this for free and it seems your wife is being spiteful but maybe you should consider a friend who is a dentist that you trust.” ~ Intelligent_Tell_841

“NTA. She’s clearly doing it just to be spiteful, there’s no other reason for her to do that, considering you’re a dentist. Toxic behavior.” ~ Either_Anteater_4092

“NTA. Even if she doesn’t, unless OP is insanely shi**y at his job or as a parent, I cannot see a judge siding with Mom on this unilateral decision and forcing OP to pay for half.”

“I have a terrible co-parenting relationship with my daughter’s father, because of his behavior, but when his wife, who works in an orthodontist’s office, offered to have her doctors take over care so we’d have to pay almost nothing I jumped at the opportunity.”

“Saved me money, kiddo still got great care, and so what that I had to put up with his behavior more… it was the best option.” ~ Specific_Culture_591

“NAH. As someone whose dad was a dentist, I want you to think through if you want to press this.”

“We asked our mom to go elsewhere because we were starting to associate Dad with pain/anxiety and we didn’t want to tell him.”

“We weren’t afraid of him but we didn’t want to hurt his feelings.” ~ Radiant_Initiative30

“NAH. My initial thoughts as I read through were that if I were in that situation as the wife, and you say that you don’t have good communication and tend to avoid each other, I’d want my kid treated by someone who I didn’t have a strained relationship with so that I felt I could talk openly and freely about his medical/dental procedures and requirements.”

“I totally get why you’d be surprised she went to another dentist, but to be honest, I probably would too.”

“It’s also possible that your son didn’t want you to do the work and didn’t want to tell you.” ~ GrecianGator

“NTA, she shouldn’t charge you for something that you could have gotten him for free and she didn’t consult with you about.” ~ ZeldasTears

A few Redditors felt differently, though…

“YTA. Clearly, this will be a disliked comment, but no parent should provide health care, mental health care, eye exams, or dental care as a professional to their children or other family members.”

“All true professional health care providers know this.”

“The potential for emotional damage is only one of the reasons.”

“I guess no one on this thread is a professional, or you guys would have heard this already.”

“I’m wondering if it isn’t part of the code of ethics for providers of health care.”

“If I were your X-wife, I would contact the governing and licensing board for dentists in your state and ask them if there isn’t a prohibition or at least advice against family members treating each other, even for routine care.”

“This is a bad situation for the entire family, and OP should stop, suck it up, and pay his half with a smile.” ~ Harmless_Old_Lady

“YTA You stated that you’re having a complicated co-parenting.”

“If you were still your son’s dentist, that would mean that she would have to reach out to your office to schedule during her time and thus be put in a situation where she has to appear in your office with the child.”

“You don’t let a 6-year-old go to the dentist by themselves.”

“She doesn’t want to see you, and that’s perfectly okay.” ~ gfdoctor

“YTA. Your son should be seen by a neutral both for ethical reasons generally, but particularly in a contentious co-parenting situation in which doing so would place you in a position to make medical decisions without her full input.”

“She is not being unreasonable here.”

“And for f**ks sake, both yall be adults and do better by your kid.”

“He doesn’t need your petty drama.” ~ KCatty

“I agree, OP YTA.”

“The son also might not want to go to the dad, or maybe he doesn’t do a good job.”

“You shouldn’t force your family to be seen by you.” ~ BrownEyedGurl1

Well, OP, most of Reddit is with you.

Navigating childcare after a less-than-amicable divorce is never fun.

It sounds like it may be time for an actual face-to-face.

Perhaps with a trusted third-party mediator.

Good luck.