Family Law Questions? Ask a Family Lawyer Online.
Hi and thanks for asking your question. My name is ***** ***** I will be assisting you. First we'll discuss the issue with your wife. If she is not a party to the medical paperwork, then she shouldn't have any liability for repayment. You should be able to file a motion with the court asking that she be dropped as a defendant.
If you are interested in a payment plan to avoid a judgment, have discussions with the attorneys and see if something can be worked out. You can ask for an extension of time to file your response to the suit while negotiations are taking place. If they refuse to give you an extension, you can file a general and simple answer by the deadline, denying all the allegations in their complaint. That will also give you time to work out a payment plan.
If you file a general denial answer today, you can always ask the court to drop your wife as a party at a later time.
If you can't cut a repayment deal today, you can ask them for an extension or you can file the general denial answer today and then ask for all the backup paperwork supporting the amounts they are claiming. Ideally, you can strike a deal sometime soon and not have to litigate, especially if you feel you are responsible for at least some of the debt. You can make them an offer to settle. Start somewhere below 50%. If you strike a deal, they would put together a settlement agreement. Once settled, the case would be dismissed and you wouldn't have to worry about a judgment being entered against you.
I did some further research and wanted to post the results. The theory they are using under Colorado law to sue your spouse is known as "The Family Purpose Doctrine." t’s codified in the Colorado Revised Statute at CRS 4-6-110. The statute states: “The expenses of the family and the education of the children are chargeable upon the property of both husband and wife, or either of them, and in relation thereto they may be sued jointly or separately.”
It is mostly used these days in medical collection suits such as yours. There are mixed results of its use in medical collection cases. Some courts have dismissed the spouse while other courts have not. Your wife can absolutely raise it as a defense and make the argument that this doctrine doesn't apply here.
As mentioned above, the best course of action is to work out a settlement and repayment plan. That eliminates having to argue this defense as well as litigating the case.