Minn.Stat section 519.05 provides: A spouse is not liable to a creditor for any debts of the other spouse. Where husband and wife are living together, they shall be jointly and severally liable for necessary medical services that have been furnished to either spouse, * * * , and necessary household articles and supplies furnished to and used by the family. Notwithstanding this paragraph, in a proceeding under chapter 518 the court may apportion such debt between the spouses. (b) Either spouse may close a credit card account or other unsecured consumer line of credit on which both spouses are contractually liable, by giving written notice to the creditor.
So regardless of whose name on it, either spouse can be liable for medical bills of the other spouse, as long as the parties were living together at the time. I have never actually seen a creditor try to enforce the second part, regarding “necessary household articles and supplies.”
Sometimes there is a question as to whether a spouse is liable when they have been added as an authorized user. The first place to check would be the actual papers that were signed (or terms and conditions that were checked) when the application was made. People usually don’t have that, so the next best thing, which is probably 80-90% accurate, is to see whose name the bill came in, and also to run a credit report on both spouses.
One common issue that comes up following the divorce, is where one party was order to pay a certain joint debt, and doesn’t. The divorce decree is only between the two parties, and does not absolve the other spouse from a contractual obligation to pay the creditor.
If you have questions or concerns regarding debts from a spouse or current spouse, it’s good to have an attorney who knows both bankruptcy and family law. Theisen Law is one of the only law firms that specializes in those two areas.