You might be surprised at the answer

Is My Husband Liable for His Ex's Hospital Bill?

by Steve Rhode

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Dear Steve,
My husband's ex-wife incurred a hospital bill for a broken leg prior to their divorce. She was not covered under a health plan at that time, so she was responsible for the entire hospital bill. As part of their divorce agreement, which was signed by the Judge, the hospital debt was assigned to the wife. By the way, it was a county hospital.

My husband was contacted by the County of San Bernardino a few days ago, letting him know he is also responsible for the debt because they were married at the time. Because she has not paid (it was about 5-6 years ago), the county informed us that they would be coming after him for the debt, regardless of the divorce agreement.

My husband got a certified copy of the divorce agreement, as we were intending to dispute this debt. When he got the copy, the portion of the divorce agreement that assigned the debt to his ex-wife was crossed out with a case number next to it.

My questions include:

  • Is my husband responsible for this debt, even though it was assigned to her?
  • Is it legal for the county to make changes to this divorce agreement without notifying the parties involved?



Dear Jennifer,

You have the same misconception of debts and divorce that many people have. The divorce agreement is an agreement between your husband and his ex-wife. It does not alter any relationship between them and their creditors at the time they were married.

The divorce agreement is actually saying that the ex-wife agreed to repay that debt, but if she does not pay, it lands on your husband. Your husband can take her to court and attempt to force her to pay. You should read "Making a Clean Financial Break at Divorce."

Am I a good candidate for bankruptcy?

Ultimately, this will all come back to the financial admission documents at the time the ex-wife was treated. Typically, those documents clearly state both parties are responsible.

In terms of the debt of medical bills accrued during marriage, the nine community property states typically hold both divorcing spouses liable in an even 50/50 split for bill payment. This is true even if all of the costs were amassed by only one spouse. - Source

Regardless of the mark on the divorce agreement, it sounds as if he is on the hook for the debt if she does not pay.
Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is an experienced debt expert who assist consumers for free to find good solutions for bad debt. He sells no products or services, just provides free assistance through his site at

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