Can a stepparent make medical decisions?

Stepparents naturally find themselves making decisions for their spouse's children. These decisions could include simple day-to-day things like when they will go to bed, what type of discipline they'll see or what activities they can be involved in at school.

But what about bigger things? Say a child needs medical care. Can a stepparent decide what type of care the child gets?

Technically, the answer is no. The stepparent does not have this legal right. Only biological parents do. This is important when the biological parent who is not part of the new couple has very different views than their ex and the stepparent.

The issue is that, in a very practical sense, this creates problems. What if the stepparent is home with the child while the other parent is flying on a business trip? The child gets seriously injured or gets sick. Can the stepparent not make decisions to get them the medical help that they need?

To get around this issue, the biological parent may want to consider using a consent form. They can simply authorize the stepparent to make medical decisions when needed. They can give them that legal right. This is something they usually want to do well in advance, though, because a situation where the biological parent is not there to make decisions is likely an emergency that no one saw coming.

As you can see, divorce and blended families raise a lot of interesting legal questions. It's important for all involved to know their rights and consider these issues in advance so that they're ready for whatever may arise.

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