Allentown, PA asked in Bankruptcy for Pennsylvania

Q: I have a common law spouse - can a hospital come after her for a judgement on my unpaid medical bills?

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3 Lawyer Answers

Timothy Denison

Answered
  • Bankruptcy Lawyer
  • Louisville, KY

A: Not unless. She

Timothy Denison

Answered
  • Bankruptcy Lawyer
  • Louisville, KY

A: Not unless she personally signed and guarateeed them.

W. J. Winterstein Jr.

PREMIUM
Answered
  • Bankruptcy Lawyer
  • Boyertown, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: You present several issues with these few statements.

Most states, including PA, recognize "common law marriages", the basic element of which is that you and she presented as man and wife to another human. E.g., it might suffice if, though unmarried, you had presented as man and wife to get a room. Of course, for a pursuing creditor to tag your now wife for subsequently incurred medical bills, the creditors) would have to first learn of that time you put yourselves out there as a married couple, and then convince those witnesses to come to court to prove all that.

There is also case law upon which to base your spouse's liability for your necessary medical bills, if you are deemed a "dependent" of hers at the time such services were rendered. The income tax returns for both of you would be probative on this point, at any trial on a claim brought by one of your creditors.

Bottom line, yes, in theory, a creditor might pursue your wife for liability on necessary services to you as her dependent. In reality, that's a long, tough row to hoe for the creditor.

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