The Liability of Medical Bills During Divorce in Florida

By Erika Johansen

Florida's "equitable distribution" law seeks to make a fair division of both marital property and marital debts when a couple divorces. Medical bills incurred during marriage are considered marital liabilities, subject to fair distribution between the spouses. However, medical bills incurred before marriage or during the divorce process, as well as medical bills incurred to care for the couple's children, may be treated differently.

Florida's "equitable distribution" law seeks to make a fair division of both marital property and marital debts when a couple divorces. Medical bills incurred during marriage are considered marital liabilities, subject to fair distribution between the spouses. However, medical bills incurred before marriage or during the divorce process, as well as medical bills incurred to care for the couple's children, may be treated differently.

Florida Property Division

In Florida, all assets that the spouses earn or acquire during marriage are considered "marital property," and all debts that the spouses incur during marriage, such as medical bills, are "marital liabilities." Florida follows the equitable distribution system to divide these two types property during a divorce. Under equitable distribution, the court divides the marital property and liabilities in an "equitable" manner, meaning that the court tries to achieve the most fair result for both spouses. This doesn't necessarily mean that the liabilities will be divided up evenly; rather, the court will look at the two spouses' respective earning power, contributions to the marriage, health and other factors, and then decide how to fairly divide the marital property and liabilities.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Separate Liabilities

If one spouse incurred medical liabilities before the start of the marriage, that debt is considered a non-marital, or "separate," liability. Typically, separate liabilities are awarded back to the spouse who incurred them. However, even marital debts may be awarded as separate liabilities if the court believes that one spouse spent recklessly or needlessly. For instance, if one spouse incurred enormous medical debt for unnecessary surgical procedures, a court seeking to divide liabilities fairly might decide to award the liability for those procedures entirely to the spouse who incurred it.

Expenses During Divorce

Under Florida law, the court will generally treat all expenses and debts incurred after the filing of divorce as separate property. So if one spouse incurs medical bills during the divorce process, the court will usually award that medical liability to that spouse. Note, however, that the equitable distribution system does allow the court broad leeway to shift debt between the parties in order to achieve a just result.

Children's Medical Expenses

Unlike spousal medical bills, which are divided based on equitable distribution, the court will usually divide the children's medical expenses along the same lines as child support. Florida law calculates child support by combining the two parents' incomes and then requiring child support in the proportion of the two incomes. For instance, if you make twice as much as your spouse, you will generally be responsible for two-thirds of the required child support. So if your child has incurred $1,200 in medical bills, then you would be responsible for $800, while your spouse would need to pay $400.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
What is the Division of Assets Divorce Law?

References

Related articles

What Is California Community Property in a Divorce?

California is a “community property” state, which means that property acquired during a marriage by California spouses is generally considered the property of both parties and can be divided equally by a California court during a divorce. Debts acquired during the marriage are also considered community property. However, there are exceptions that make certain types of property ineligible for division in a California divorce.

Florida Laws on Credit Cards & Divorce

Florida is an “equitable distribution” state, which means a couple’s marital assets and debts are divided equitably in a divorce. However, an equitable distribution does not necessarily mean an equal distribution. Florida does not consider certain debts to be marital debts divisible by the court and creditors are not bound by the terms of a divorce decree.

Divorce Property Rules

When you and your spouse separate, you must split your economic lives as well as your personal lives. Although the law on property division varies from state to state, all states have some way of dividing marital property and debt upon separation. Learning how your marital estate may be distributed can make an often confusing process easier to bear.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Is Inheritance a Marital Asset in Florida?

If you are getting a divorce in Florida, the property you and your spouse own together -- the so-called marital assets ...

How to Divide Up the Assets for a Divorce in Illinois

In Illinois, you have the right to reach a property settlement agreement with your spouse: the two of you can mutually ...

Can a Judge Order Me to Get a Job During a Divorce in Illinois?

Divorce causes many changes in the spouses’ lives -- sometimes even employment changes. Spouses who previously ...

Am I Liable for a Spouse's Debt Prior to a Divorce During Separation?

When couples decide to end their marriage, not only must they sort through the emotional entanglements that come with ...

Browse by category