What can my mom do after getting stuck with my dads past medical bills? 14 Answers as of April 27, 2011

My mom and dad have been married for about 11 years, but separated for the last 7 years. My dad has a horrible drug problem and has ran thousands of dollars up in medical bills. She is getting a divorce from him ASAP, just hasnt had the money cause now the collection agencies are going after her. What can she do to make him responsible for his problems and his debts.

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Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
She is not liable for his debts just because they are married. Her Divorce lawyer should be able to assist with this by providing some form letters and getting some information into the decree.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 4/27/2011
Law Office of John C. Volz
Law Office of John C. Volz | John C. Volz
Any debts incurred after the date of separation will be awarded to your father once the divorce decree is entered. Once your mom files for divorce showing the earlier date of separation, she may begin to send that filing to the creditors.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/25/2011
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
She should not be liable for his debts, unless she signed some agreement to the contrary. I don't see how they are coming after her. She should contact a consumer lawyer to review her potential claims against the creditors. Stay well.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 4/22/2011
Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law
Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law | Edwin Fahlen
Your mother needs to litigate the LEGAL date of separation being 7 years ago, then all debt acquired in the past 7 years will be the husbands separate property. Thai may take good lawyering, so to attack this issue without legal representation could be VERY costly, one-half the amount of the entire debt!
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/21/2011
Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
With regard to the divorce, the court will award these post separation expenses to your dad, but if your mom is liable for the bills as a result of the use of joint credit, then they can come after her. She may need to file for bankruptcy protect if she doesn't want to pay it. If you are looking for an attorney for your mom with regard to both family law and bankruptcy, and you are in my area, please contact me for a free consultation.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/22/2011
    Lori C. Obenauf LLC
    Lori C. Obenauf LLC | Lori C. Obenauf
    Your mom should notify all collections agencies to stop calling her, telling them that she disputes that these are her debts. Just because a collection agency calls her does not mean that she is responsible for the debts of her spouse. You do not indicate whether or not she guaranteed payment for the medical bills, but if not, she is not responsible for the debts. She can also file for divorce to divide marital property and allocate marital debts. Have your mom consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 4/22/2011
    Kelly A. Broadbent, Esq.
    Kelly A. Broadbent, Esq. | Kelly Broadbent
    In Massachusetts, when parties get divorced, debt is an issue that they can allocate to each party. She can negotiate in the agreement that all of his debt be allocated to him.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 4/22/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Generally, your mother should not be legally liable for your father's medical bills unless she entered into some contractual promise to pay the providers. If they have live apart for 7 years, that seems unlikely.

    Collection agencies frequently assert something called the family necessities doctrine as the reason why a spouse must pay the other's bills, but they usually oversimplify their misunderstanding of the law.

    Until somebody actually sues your Mom and obtains a court judgment based upon valid legal grounds she isn't automatically responsible. She should consult an attorney for assistance in dealing with the collection agencies. As between your Mom & your Dad, she needs to start divorce proceedings. The divorce court can make it clear that, as between the two of them, she has no responsibility for his debts. That may or may not deter the collection agencies, but it will make it much harder for them to support a lawsuit based on the family necessities doctrine.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 4/22/2011
    Goldberg Jones
    Goldberg Jones | Zephyr Hill
    She needs to file for divorce and separate all the accounts. Maybe the father should consider BK as well to eliminate the medical bills?
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/22/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    Has she considered bankruptcy?If not, the divorce willhopefully make him responsible for the debts she's concerned about but the creditors can still hound her and she'll have to hound her husband - not a great option.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 4/22/2011
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
    She needs a good family law attorney, as she should be able to avoid liability for separate property debts.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/21/2011
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    She can ask that the divorce court order him to pay it. However, that will not stop the creditors from coming after her.

    She might need to consider other options such as bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/21/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    Sorry to hear about her problems. Unfortunately spouses are responsible for the medical treatment of each other. While in a divorce the court can order him rather than her to be responsible to make the payments, that does not prevent the medical provider from seeking payment from her because the divorce court does not have any control over any other parties but the husband and wife.She may have to file for bankruptcy.

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    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 4/21/2011
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