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If someone is in a coma and married, can the spouse divorce that person? The person is in the state of PA

Chicago, IL |

A married person attempted suicide in the state of PA and is currently in a drug induced coma. Can the sick person's spouse divorce them at this time? Who is responsible for the medical bills?

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Attorney answers 4


That is a very good question. A person must have capacity to understand the court action and participate in their defense. Obviously that is not the case here at all. In some cases a guardian can be appointed and the guardian can stand in the shoes of the person who is mentally disabled. I do not know what the law is in PA. The medical bills are a liability of the marriage and will have to be dealt with as part of the marital estate. Isn't he insured?

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PA aw applies here so you might wish to report using a PA address to attract more licensed attorneys. If this were an IL case, it would be highly likely that there would be a petition for guardianship of the patient. The guardian must not be the spouse. The medical bills are most likely marital expenses. Hopefully someone from PA would confirm or correct my answer.


The spouse can use the laws of Illinois if he or she has resided in Illinois long enough. (Although I wouldn't generally recommended it.) However, it appears that this case really arises out of Pennsylvania. If that is the case, Pennsylvania counsel should be contacted. What a guardian can do or not do is dependent on state law. Although there are some general themes as to both the law of guardianship and the law of divorce that run through the majority of the states, the specifics of the law very greatly from state to state. Therefore, someone who knows Pennsylvania law should be involved.

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Has a guardian for the comatose spouse been appointed? If there has, the guardian could be served with the divorce papers. The Court can dissolve the marriage quickly; but it would not likely resolve debt or maintenance issues without a lengthy hearing. Right now, the bills are subject to the Family Expense Statute and both parties to the marriage are liable. Is there health insurance? Who was providing it? Again, the insurance should cover per the policy but there may be an issue over coverage due to the suicide attempt. So at this time the guardianship and the insurance coverage are in flux. These details should not be broadcast over the Internet.

This is a general answer and does not address the specifics of your individual case. To give the specific answer you need our firm needs you to come in for a consultation.

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