APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Jacqueline M. Stern, Judge. Reversed. (Super. Ct. No. 37-2008-00050860-CU-CL-NC).
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Benke, Acting P. J.
CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION
Following the separation of husband and wife, husband was hospitalized and incurred substantial hospital and medical fees. Thereafter wife filed a petition for dissolution of marriage, which was granted. The judgment of dissolution did not assign to wife any liability for husband's hospital and medical costs.
Although under Family Code*fn1 section 914 wife was liable for the costs incurred by husband for "necessaries," including hospital and medical fees, that liability was subject to the provisions of section 916. Under section 916, following dissolution of a marriage a nondebtor spouse is only liable for debts incurred by the former spouse during their marriage if the debt is assigned to the nondebtor spouse by the judgment of dissolution. Accordingly, the trial court erred in entering judgment against wife for the hospital and medical fees the former husband incurred following their separation and in dismissing wife's cross-complaint against the assignee of the hospital's fee claim. Thus, we reverse the trial court's judgment and remand for further proceedings.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On February 16, 2006, Pamela D. Parton (Pamela) called police to the home she shared with her then-husband, Daniel W. Parton (Daniel). Pamela told the police her husband had engaged in domestic violence against her. Very shortly thereafter Pamela obtained a restraining order and the couple separated.
On February 23, 2006, after the Partons had separated, Daniel was admitted to Tri-City Medical Center. The record suggests he was suffering from severe emotional illness. Daniel was released from the hospital on February 27, 2006.
On May 17, 2006, Pamela filed a petition for dissolution of her marriage. In her schedule of assets and debts, Pamela stated the Tri- City Hospital debt belonged to Daniel. A judgment of dissolution was entered on September 26, 2006. The judgment did not assign the hospital obligation to Pamela.
On January 24, 2008, CMRE Financial Services, Inc. (CMRE), as assignee of Tri-City Hospital, filed a complaint against both Partons. The complaint alleged the Partons owed CMRE $26,083, plus interest and attorney fees. Pamela filed an answer denying the material allegations of the complaint and a cross-complaint alleging that by sending her collection notices, CMRE had violated the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Title 15, United States Code section 1692 et seq. CMRE was unable to serve Daniel and he was dismissed without prejudice.
CMRE filed a demurrer to Pamela's cross-complaint. CMRE alleged Pamela was liable for Daniel's necessaries under section 914 and that, notwithstanding section 916, Pamela was not relieved of that liability by virtue of her dissolution judgment. The trial court sustained CMRE's demurrer without leave to amend. Thereafter the trial court tried CMRE's claims and entered judgment against Pamela for $26,083, plus interest, attorney fees and costs. Pamela timely appealed.
On appeal, Pamela argues her dissolution judgment relieved her of any liability to CMRE that may have arisen under section 914. We agree.
Section 914, subdivision (a), states: "Notwithstanding Section 913, a married person is personally liable for the following debts incurred by ...