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Duties

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Spouses are required to support one another by law. Additionally, a spouse who fails to fulfill that duty is liable to the person who does provide necessary support. The duty to support is limited to providing the necessities of life, and no more. Housing, food, transportation, and medical care are necessities. Additionally, a spouse has a duty to pay the debts of his or her spouse that relate to those necessities. A husband, for example, is liable for his wife's medical bills even if he had no agreement with the hospital to pay.

According to the couple's lifestyle, necessities may be more extravagant. For instance, it might be necessary for a wife to purchase designer clothing because of social commitments that are customary in the household.

Sidebar: In community property states, if there is no community income, a spouse must use separate property to support the other spouse. For instance, where neither the husband nor the wife has a job and the sole income is from the wife's parents who give her gifts of cash, that cash must be used to support the husband.

Are charitable donations a necessity?

No. Charitable donations do not constitute a basic need nor are they necessary to maintain a particular standard of living.

Is a housecleaning service a necessity?

No. Paying someone to clean your house is not a necessity of life.

Are therapy sessions a necessity?

Yes. Therapy and psychiatric care are medical necessities.

Do I have a legal duty to have sex with my spouse?

No, and forcing sexual relations may be a sexual assault under some state laws. However, refusal to engage in sexual intercourse with a spouse is grounds for an annulment.