Husband Filed Bankruptcy Do I Have to Pay His Medical Bills?

by Brenda
(Peru, IL USA)

My husband and I keep all of financials separate, down to all our accounts, creditors and insurance resp. etc. He recently filed bankruptcy, and now I find out that his medical bills were sent for collection and are now in my name. Can I be held responsible for those? My credit has been excellent prior to this. We have separate insurance.

Reply from


You may not be responsible for this individual medical bills. It depends on what your state laws are. In some states, laws referred to as "Doctrines of Necessaries" hold individuals responsible for their spouses medical bills. These laws generally date back to a time when women didn't hold outside jobs or own property, and the laws help make sure their husbands would pay for these essential bills.

We are not attorneys but it is our understanding that in Illinois in particular, Section 15 of the “Rights of Married Persons Act” can result in a spouse being liable for the other's medical bills incurred while they are married. However, there are different court decisions that have interpreted this law so it would be a good idea to get legal advice to find out how it applies to your specific situation.

Assuming your husband filed bankruptcy with the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney, we recommend you both consult with him or her to clarify this issue. If it turns out you are responsible, you may either have to consider filing yourself (if the debts are very large), negotiate a settlement, or pay them off to avoid further problems such as a lawsuit.

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