Is an 18 year old senior in high school liable for medical bills even if the parents are claiming the child is dependent on their tax forms?

UPDATED: Oct 5, 2011

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Is an 18 year old senior in high school liable for medical bills even if the parents are claiming the child is dependent on their tax forms?

My wife and I applied for a home loan. We were denied because she has collections against her from 6-7 years ago when she was a senior in high school. Her parents didn’t pay the bills but claimed her as a dependent and also deducted all of her medical expenses on their tax forms. Wouldn’t her parents be liable for the bills? On a similar note, the hospital and the collection agencies never contacted my wife directly. All bills were addressed to her parents and their home and all calls were to her parents (they never told her/us).

Asked on October 5, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Kansas


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately for your wife, pretty much all states hold a parent and a minor child responsible for unpaid bills (including medical bills) even though the minor child legally is not able to contract.

In your situation, are the unpaid bills simply unpaid claims for payment or is there a judgment arising from the amount claimed owed? If there is no judgment for the amount claimed owed, then most likely the hospital bill is barred by all applicable statutes of limitations.

You are correct that primarily the parents of your wife would be responsible for her medical bills.

The best way to try and resolve this situation is to contact a company that assists in cleaning up one's credit report.

Good luck.

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