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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Responsible for spouse's medical bills?

    I live in Virginia. My father has been paying for my mother's medical bills since her death in 2007. He did not sign any paperwork holding him responsible for the bill. I was inquiring to see if he is responsible for the balance because they were married. She had no power of attorney or will.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    (Don’t take this as gospel because it isn’t so intended. Its only based on my observations from reading the Virginia Code and an article from the State Bar Association on Virginia’s Doctrine of Necessaries.)

    By statute Virginia has retained the common law “Doctrine of Necessaries”.

    “The doctrine of necessaries as it existed at common law shall apply equally to both spouses, except where they are permanently living separate and apart, “ (Virginia Code Section 55-37)

    Why your legislatures simple adopted a common law principle that is basically ambiguous and subject to various interpretations, rather than clearly defining the spouses financial responsibilities for one another as have many states is unclear. (But then I've never held legislatures with much regard.)

    Under this common law doctrine “necessaries” has been defined as “things indispensable, or things proper and useful, for the sustenance of human life. Food, lodging, clothing, and other things essential to life and comfort and in keeping with a station in life".

    But according to the state bar article it would appears that if your father DID NOT sign for the wife’s medical care then his personal liability would depend on whether the medical services were of an EMERGENCY NATURE and/or whether your father “CARRIED THE SUPPORT OBLIGATION IN THE FAMILY”.

    The article makes mention a superior court case from the City of Richmond where a hospital’s suit against the husband was dismissed on demurrer because it failed to prove that the husband “carried the support obligation in the family”. But it doesn’t give a case citation or the caption.

    Now you know as much as me, which is not much.

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