Am I responsible for a medical debt for my child?

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Am I responsible for a medical debt for my child?

My ex-wife took our child (7 years old) to an emergency room and the bill has gone to collections. The collections company says that I am also liable for this debt. Is this correct? Our separation agreement states that I am only responsible for medical insurance.

Asked on April 15, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Colorado

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Typically, a parent is liable for the medical bills of their minor children. Further, settlements, court judgments, separation/divorce agreements, and the like are only only binding on the parties to them (that would be you and your ex-wife); they do not bind creditors.  Accordingly, creditors may look to either or both parents for payment of medical expenses.  Then just how the parents allocate or split those costs between them is governed by the applicable agreement.  So in your case the creditors, who were not party to the separation agreement, can try to collect  it all from you. You, in turn,  can look to enforce the agreement against your ex-wife and collect the appropriate share from her.  Bottom line - your recourse is against your ex mother, not directly against the creditor.


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