What is a separated spouse’s liability for medical bills?

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What is a separated spouse’s liability for medical bills?

HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR 13 YEARS BUT SEPERATED FOR 8. HE HAS ALOT OF MEDICAL BILLS. WOULD I HAVE TO PAY THEM IF SOMETHING HAPPEND TO HIM. HE LIVES IN A DIFFERENT TOWN THEN I, HE HAS HIS OWN INSURANCE, AND I HAVE MINE. WE EVEN FILE INCOME TAX MARRIED BUT SINGLE.

Asked on October 20, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Illinois

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Whether you’re liable depends on whether your husband's debt is considered to be is a “family expense” under state law. If it is, you’re liable. If it’s not, you’re not.  In general, it takes some kind of agreement to make you liable for a debt (written or implied by your actions).  Yet sometimes liability can be based on a specific statute. In IL, "The Illinois Family Expense Act" makes spouses jointly liable for “the expenses of the family...” The law presumes that both spouses agree to pay for family expenses.  And medical bills are deemed to be such expenses.  However, family expenses require a "family" (ie at least a husband and a wife). Some cases say separated spouses aren’t families, so that one spouse isn’t liable for personal debts the other spouse runs up after separating.

The bottom line is that a court will have to decide if your husband’s debt is a family expense.  At this point, you should consult directly with an attorney in your area.


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