Healthcare Decisions and Rights for Common Law Spouses

Healthcare Decisions and Rights for Common Law Spouses

During times of healthcare decisions, common law partners often find themselves in a situation where their rights may not be as concrete as spouses in conventional marriages. Normally, married couples have a better opportunity to deal with their spouse’s health problems because there are established legal frameworks.

On the other hand, partners in common law encounter certain problems such as hospital visitation, medical decision-making and access to health benefits. This article seeks to highlight some of the issues that common law spouses can encounter when dealing with health care decisions.

Understanding Common Law Relationships

To begin with the healthcare rights of common law couples, one must first determine what a common law relationship is. The term common law spouse refers to someone who lives in a manner like a married person with whom one does not get married.

They are also known as a common law wife or husband. Different areas may have their own laws regarding common law relationships, offering various rights to the common law spouses.

Hospital Visitation Rights

Visiting your spouse in the hospital is a crucial element in making health decisions. The right to visit a hospital for common law partners may be different in different jurisdictions and hospitals. In certain areas, a common law couple may enjoy the same visitation rights as legally married couples, while elsewhere, they might need to present more paperwork and additional proof of their relationship.

Advocating for Medical Decision-Making Authority

In circumstances where a partner is incapable of making medical decisions for themselves, common law spouses can face a number of barriers in expressing their partners wishes. Married couples usually have the decision making power in such situations.

However, common law spouses will likely need to provide legal documents such as a power of attorney for their decisions to be valid.

Accessing Health Benefits

Another key aspect of healthcare for common law spouses is the access to health benefits, such as insurance coverage and healthcare plans. While the majority of employers offer health insurance coverage to legally married spouses, common law partners may find themselves having to take some extra steps in order to obtain that coverage.

This may include supplying documentation of the relationship or seeking out alternative methods of acquiring health insurance.

Legal Protections and Documentation

Since there are only a few legal processes that common law spouses can trust there is a need to make an effort to formalize their relationship. It will enable them to make healthcare-related decisions for their spouses as well.

Some actions that common law couples can take include giving over power of attorney and creating living wills or advance directives. These legal contracts provide partners with the documentation needed to protect their rights.

Seeking Legal Advice

The rights of common law partners when it comes to healthcare can be quite complex. Common law couples should consider finding a competent lawyer to help take the necessary steps to protect their rights. A lawyer will be able to advise them of the laws and regulations that are applicable to their situation and will help them draft the required legal documents.

They will also be able to represent the couple if a situation ever arises where their rights are being infringed upon. Seeking legal counsel can provide common law couples with a sense of security in case of health care emergencies.


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