Proposed Legislation

With divorce and remarriage becoming more prevalent in today’s society, there is a greater possibility of conflicts between the second spouse and the children of the first marriage. These conflicts can become exacerbated when a parent becomes incapacitated or dies. Such conflicts are very painful for those involved and discourage healthy family relationships. A conservatee, who by definition cannot make decisions for him or her self regarding his or her health and finances, cannot make decisions regarding visitation with his or her children. Currently, the laws provide all rights relating to the care of loved ones to spouses, which leaves children without the basic rights to visit their ailing parents, to receive notice of hospitalizations or the death of a parent, or to be provided information regarding the burial of a parent.

Summary of Proposed Bill

The Proposed Bill seeks to improve family relationships and provide options to children who are faced with being excluded from their ailing parent’s lives.  The bill proposes changes to the Conservatorship Law that will provide an express right of children to visit their ailing parents.  The bill would allow a child to petition the probate court to obtain an order granting visitation rights.  Such a petition may be filed with or without a concurrent petition for the establishment of a conservatorship.  Further, the bill will require conservators and spouses to inform children of hospitalizations and death of their parent, and to be notified of burial of their parent.

Proposed Bill

Currently, the law does not provide any right to children to visit with their ailing parents.  Although Catherine Falk was able to obtain an order for visitation from a court by filing for a conservatorship, that order was made at the complete discretion of the judge.  Neither does the law place a duty upon spouses or conservators to keep loved ones reasonably informed regarding the health of an ailing parent, including providing notice of hospitalizations or death.  Accordingly, the Proposed Bill would add a section to the Conservatorship Law.

Kerri Kasem is actively involved in the elder abuse prevention community. For more information, please write here.
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