So who will decide Bobbi Kristina's fate? Her father or Nick Gordon, her alleged husband? An advance health care directive would have made this situation a lot easier. Bobby Brown, Bobbi Kristina's father, is keeping a vigil beside his daughter as she struggles for her life. A statement by Bobby Brown's attorney recently stated that Bobbi Kristina and Nick Gordon were never actually married, even though, outwardly, there was no reason to suspect that they were not.
What does this news that there was never a marriage mean for Bobbi Kristina? Assuming that she never signed an Advance Health Care Directive or living will, if Bobbi Kristina were a Pennsylvania resident, and she was not married to Nick Gordon, then her father, Bobby Brown, would be making all of the medical decisions for her. However, if there was a valid marriage between the two, Nick Gordon would be the decision maker.
In Pennsylvania, we have a law that appoints surrogate medical decision makers for individuals who do not have healthcare power of attorney documents or who have not had a guardian of their person appointed. The law also applies when a person's chosen health care agent is not reasonably available, meaning, for example, that the agent has died or is out of the country. In order for doctors to defer to another person, rather than to the patient herself, the attending physician must declare her to be incapacitated.
The spouse is the first family member doctors turn to for making decisions. If there is no spouse or if a divorce is pending, then the patient's adult children will make decisions for her. If the patient has no adult children and no spouse, then her parents, followed by her siblings, and her adult grandchildren (if any). Finally, only if none of these people are available, will an adult who is intimately familiar with the patient's values and preferences be permitted to make decisions.
In Bobbi Kristina's case, everything depends on whether or not her marriage to Nick Gordon is valid. Simply claiming to be married, calling someone your husband or wife, wearing a ring and living together, are not enough, in Pennsylvania, to establish that a marriage exists. Any couple wishing to wed must do so by obtaining a marriage license and going through all of the legal formalities of marriage.