West Virginia Statute Fills Void By Conferring Authority on Temporary Caregiver to Consent to Medical Care for Child in Their Care

The time arrives for Father’s court-ordered bi-weekly timesharing, a full weekend with Child.

Father’s parents (Grandparents) pick Child up at Mother’s home.

Father is often delayed at work.

Assuming that Father will have Child, Mother departs on her planned weekend trip out of state.

Actually, Father is not at work. And he will not have Child either. He is away for the weekend too.

Grandparents anticipate having and spoiling Child for an entire weekend.

On Saturday, though, Grandparents and Child are involved in an accident.

Child requires surgery.

Hospital requires parental consent.

Both parents are out of state, however, … and cannot be reached.

This dilemma plays out all too often.

As well as variations with various other relatives or friends serving as the temporary caregivers.

And other variations where the child’s parents remain at home and the Grandparents (or relatives or friends) take the child away with them on a weekend (or longer) trip.

And injury or illness befalls Child while away from parents.

Whichever variation applies, there is no one available with legal authority to grant consent to medical treatment for Child.

Of course, attorneys can draft documents, which both parents can execute, to delegate authority to temporary caregivers to grant medical consent on behalf of a child.

But this process entails some expense and requires some thought and advance planning and implementation.

As a result, in the event of an unforeseen need for medical treatment for a child, there can be detrimental delays.

But no longer, at least, not in West Virginia.

A new statute there authorizes temporary caregivers to sign an affidavit granting consent to medical treatment for a minor child in their temporary care.

Assuming that you and your child’s other parent have shared parental responsibility:
is your child is ever left in the care of a third party who is not your child’s other parent or a legal guardian of your child, when both you and your child’s other parent will be at a distance and/or incommunicado?

If so, you and your child’s other parent may want to address this potential risk to your child.

If you have sole parental responsibility or ultimate decisionmaking authority over your child’s medical care:
you may want to address this potential risk to your child.

Otherwise, your child’s health and welfare may be subject to statutory provisions that may not give effect to your child’s other parent’s or your wishes.

Read more in this Harrisonburg [VA] WHSV-TV 3 news article: New Law Allows Caregiver to Sign Affidavit for Child’s Care.