Who has the authority to oversee a patient’smedical care – a wife or a girlfriend?

My mom lived with a man for 2 years. He fell ill and is now in the hospital. He was married to some other lady and she is trying to take charge of his care. What can my mom do?

Asked on December 22, 2010 under Family Law, Texas


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, under the law your mother has no legal rights.  Even though this man has not lived with his wife for years, she still is his wife in the eyes of the law.  In fact, the hospital risks a lawsuit if they do not recognize her rights.  Unless there was a written document, such as a Medical Power of Attorney or Living Will, etc, your mom really isn't going to have any say over this man's medical treatment.

Note:  TX does recognize common-law marriage, but not if 1 of the parties is already married to someone else.

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