Hospital filed complaint under family expense statute against divorced, noncustodial parent (father) to recover costs of medical services rendered to his child. The Circuit Court granted summary judgment against the father.  He appealed.

The Appellate Court held that: (1) creditor could hold divorced, noncustodial parent liable under the family expense statute for expenses incurred on behalf of his or her children. (2) An emancipated child’s medical expenses are not family expenses under the expense statute.   

Father had filed a petition to terminate child support, alleging that the 14 year old child was emancipated because she had moved to Alabama with her fiancee. The circuit court granted the petition. 

Later, the mother took the child to the hospital for treatment. The mother completed and signed an authorization form which indicated that she was the child’s guardian and that she agreed to pay for the services.

The father neither authorized the child’s admission to the hospital nor agreed to pay for the hospital’s services. When the mother failed to pay the bill, the hospital commenced the instant suit against both the mother and the father. The hospital’s claim against the mother was based on the authorization form. Its claim against the father was based on the Family Expense Statute.

The question of whether the child was emancipated was a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment. Also, the hospital must pay the father’s attorney fees and costs if the child was emancipated at the time she was treated at the hospital.  The case was sent back to the Trial Court to resolve the emancipation issues.

Proctor Hosp. v. Taylor, 279 Ill.App.3d 624.