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A debt collector tries to collect a debt, that is not mine, but my ex's (we are divorced). What to do?

Rockville, MD |

It is a medical debt for my son's treatment one year ago, a sum of 6 bills from the same provider. I've never had the bills, the provider billed my ex husband (my son's father). Our son is on his father's health insurance, and per our divorce decree the father is also supposed to pay uncovered med. expenses (which he refuses to do). So, the hospital sent all bills to the father directly, I've never received anything, never had phone calls about this debt, nothing until yesterday I received a letter from a debt collector. What do I do now? Call the collector? Write them and request "validation" - what is it? Can they report it to the credit bureaus? Can they sue me for a debt, that's never been in my name to start with?

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Attorney answers 2


You should contact the collector in writing and by certified mail, return receipt requested and request validation of the debt. You also have the right to tell the collector not to bother you and the collector is "supposed" to honor that request under the FDCPA.

However, most states follow the common law rule that a parent is responsible for the reasonably necessary medical bills of the other spouse and/or dependents. As such, if your child was a minor at the time of treatment, as a parent, if the medical treatment was necessary, you may be liable for the medical expenses under the "doctrine of necessaries." This would be true regardless of any agreement you would have with your ex.

If you were to pay the medical expenses, you would be able to recover the amount from your ex-husband per the terms of your divorce decree.

Good luck!

By answering this question, general information is provided and no attorney-client relationship is established. For specific inquiries, you should consult with experienced counsel in your area.



Thank you. My problem with this is I was never sent these bills. My name is not on them. Even when I called the provider one year ago to find out about non-covered costs, they refused to tell me. They would deal only with a policy holder, they said. Currently, it would be much harder for me to recover these expenses from my ex (going back to court and all). My ex has an income 120K, it's not like he is unable to pay...



Also, Maryland abrogated the doctrine of necessaries in its entirety in 1981 (Condore, 289 Md. at 532-33, 425 A.2d at 1019)


Sorry to have to tell you this, but just because your divorce decree says one thing, a medical provider is not obligated to comply with the terms of your divorce. Since the services were provided to your child, you are responsible to pay the doctor.

I would suggest that you contact your divorce attorney for follow up assistance on enforcing the terms of the divorce between you & your ex.

Hope this perspective helps!



Thanks, but the provider has never billed me! They sent bills to the father. We have different last names and different addresses. Now, more than one year later, some collection agency decided to go after me, because he would not pay??

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