Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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Family Law Attorney

I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

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Woman fights for guardianship over her brain-injured husband

While no legal matter is a walk in the park, family law cases are often among the most emotionally difficult litigation.

In Massachusetts and elsewhere, when a family faces legal issues they may feel a lot of stress due to both the particulars of the law, and the sensitivity of the situation. Battles over the guardianship can be especially overwhelming for families.

One recent case in New York involves a woman from Horseheads who has sought legal guardianship over her brain-injured husband. Her husband suffered a heart attack and fell down a staircase in 2006. He has since been in a persistent vegetative state. Currently, the Department of Social Services holds guardianship over the man after being appointed to this position by the county.

The woman filed a civil suit in federal court last week, alleging that his civil rights have been violated.

According to a recent news report, the wife claims that her husband has received poor care under the Department of Social Services. She is arguing that rehabilitation services were not provided, nor any protection from abuse, and that she has not received timely information regarding his condition or treatment. She also believes that he has been deprived of a second medical opinion, among other complaints.

Among her requests are unrestricted visits with her husband, the right to bring her husband home, access to his medical records, as well as requests for damages of an unspecified amount.

Some of the defendants in this case are the man's court-appointed lawyer and guardians and the residential service provider.

Guardianship laws are very complex. This case illustrates the turmoil that one can go through when they feel like they have no control over the well-being of someone they love. Family legal matters need to be treated with the utmost care and respect, as they are very important and emotional to everyone involved.

Source: The Star Gazette, "Federal suit filed in fight over Horseheads man's care," Ray Finger, Nov 17, 2011

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