Doctrine of Necessaries


Good Afternoon,

I have a question about the Doctrine of Necessaries. My husband and I have been separated for several months. Because of this, I have no idea what kind of medical treatment he is seeking or where he is seeking it. As I understand it, the Doctrine of Necessaries can make me liable for his medical expenses unless I contact the facility that provides treatment for him (while he is still there) and inform them of the separation. Is this true? If so, how can I inform a facilty of a separation if I don’t even know he’s there?

I found this information in the Durham Family Law Journal - There is an exception to the doctrine of necessities for separated spouses. However, merely being separated is not enough. In order for a spouse to take advantage of the separation exception, he/she must show that the provider of the necessary services or goods, e.g. the hospital, had actual notice of the parties’ separation at the time the services were rendered or the goods supplied.

Thank you.


Yes, NC has a law entitled “the doctrine of necessaries” which states that a spouse may become liable for certain necessary items if purchased on credit with the creditor having no knowledge of the separation. Practically speaking however, you are not going to be held to the fire by creditors for bills in his name.

If the collection agency is not pursuing you for these expenses then you have no obligation to pay. Since you do not even have knowledge of where your separated spouse is receiving treatment to even notify anyone, filing for divorce might be your best option, but you should consult with an attorney before doing so to make sure you are not jeopardizing your property or support rights.