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

UPDATED: Sep 19, 2011

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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


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

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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