Can a husband be held financially responsible for his wife’s medical bills if he has not signed to be the guarantor?

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Can a husband be held financially responsible for his wife’s medical bills if he has not signed to be the guarantor?

Asked on September 19, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Oregon

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The majority of states follow "equitable distribution".  In such states, a spouse cannot be held liable for medical bills (unless the "doctrine of necessities" or equivalent law applies). 

However, OR is a community property state. As a general rule, in such a state one spouse does assume liability for the other spouse's debts. As a practical matter, some creditors do not go to the trouble of suing both spouses since that tends to complicate the legal process involved in obtaining a judgment. However many other creditors do choose to pursue a spouse.

That having been said, community property laws are unique to each state regarding spousal liability. Consequently, you should consult directly with an attorney in your area who can review the details of your situation and advise you as to your rights/responsibilities.


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