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Is a legally separated husband in New York responsible for his estranged wife's long term health care?

Liverpool, NY |

nursing home costs, medicine, doctors. her age 66 yrs. old

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Hi, I have added some tags and changed your practice area so some of the fine New York attorneys here who regularly practice in family law will see your question and offer you some direction. Glad to help.

    Of course, as always this answer is general in nature, applies only to Illinois law, assumes certain facts omitted from the question and does not take into account any facts specific to any person’s particular circumstances. No attorney/client relation is created hereunder and I highly recommend you seek first the counsel and advice of an experienced contested civil litigator prior to taking any actions relating to this matter, as seemingly insignificant actions may have unintended consequences.


  2. It's a complicated question in that the separation terms will play a major role. You should have a local lawyer review your separation agreement and order.

    Lawrence Friedman, Bridgewater, NJ. Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the ABA approved National Elder Law Foundation, former Chair NJ State Bar Association Elder and Disabilities Law Section, Member Board of Consultors of NJSBA Real Property, Trusts & Estates Law Section, Vice Chair Special Needs Law Section of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation from N.Y.U. School of Law. Visit SpecialNeedsNJ.com for articles and Q&A on elder law, special needs, wills, trusts, estates, and tax. Visit SpecialNeedsNJ.com/blog and subscribe for free timely updates to be delivered to your inbox. Information on both Avvo and SpecialNeedsNJ.com does not constitute legal advice, as it is general in nature and may not apply to your situation or be subject to important changes. No attorney client relationship exists unless set forth in written engagement terms.

    Lawrence Friedman, Bridgewater, NJ. Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the ABA approved National Elder Law Foundation, former Chair NJ State Bar Association Elder and Disabilities Law Section, Member Board of Consultors of NJSBA Real Property, Trusts & Estates Law Section, Vice Chair Special Needs Law Section of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation from N.Y.U. School of Law. Visit SpecialNeedsNJ.com for articles and Q&A on elder law, special needs, wills, trusts, estates, and tax. Visit SpecialNeedsNJ.com/blog and subscribe for free timely updates to be delivered to your inbox. Information on both Avvo and SpecialNeedsNJ.com does not constitute legal advice, as it is general in nature and may not apply to your situation or be subject to important changes. No attorney client relationship exists unless set forth in written engagement terms.


  3. I agree with the other attorney. You need to take your separation papers to a local lawyer to have them reviewed and see what your options might be. Good luck!


  4. This would probably fall under the neccessities doctrine in NY General Obligations law. New York applies the doctrine of necessities to medical debt incurred by a spouse. However, the rule appears to require that the expenses be incurred on the credit of the surviving spouse and that he or she has the ability to pay. The doctrine of necessaries requires a showing that the necessaries were furnished based on the credit of the spouse and a showing that the amounts alleged to be owed are commensurate with the spouse's means. You should speak to an attorney and defend any attempt to collect against you.

    When responding to questions posted on Avvo, I provide a general purpose response based on NY law as I am licensed in NY. In reviewing my response, you are specifically advised that your use of, or reliance upon any response I provide is not advisable. I do not have all relevant background details or facts related to your issue / matter, thus I am not in a position to give you legal advice. Further, your review, use of, or reliance upon my response does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us nor does it qualify as a legal consultation for any purpose. For specific advice regarding your particular circumstances, you should consult and retain local counsel.


  5. In New York, the only "legal" separation is living separate and apart pursuant to a validly executed separation agreement, If you don't know what this is, then you are not separated at all. You therefore have a duty to support your spouse. The fact that you haven't seen her in years makes no difference because the law does not know you are apart.

    So you are financially responsible for her health care and support in general until death do you part unless you file for and are granted a divorce.

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