Does a woman who has lived with a man for 13 years have any legal rights as far as having authority over his medical care, etc. if he is hospitalized?

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Does a woman who has lived with a man for 13 years have any legal rights as far as having authority over his medical care, etc. if he is hospitalized?

They have lived together for 13 years and raised 2 daughters. Now, the day before yesterday, he was taken to a mental hospital and his mother signed a paper stating she is the only she can make decisions as to his care. Additionally, she said that he is to have no visitors but her. Can she legally do this?

Asked on September 25, 2011 under Family Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

IF he had prepared an advanced health care directive or medical power of attorney giving her rights to make health care, etc. decisions for him, then she would have this power. However, without such express authority, she does not. Living with someone, no matter for how long, having a life and family together, etc. does not confer any legal rights or authority. (Note: CA does not recognize the concept of "common law marriage," which in states which do, *might* give her this authority, depending on the circumstances.) As unfair as it is, she has no more legal rights or authority over him than if they'd only casually dated a few weeks. If either or both daugher is grown, they might be able to assert authority; but if they are still minors, then his parents (e.g. his mother) would have the power to make these decisions.


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