Can you get a legal divorce from relatives and is it worth it?
February 5, 2017 9:19 AM   Subscribe

I find that even as an adult relatives seem to have certain rights that I wish they didn't.

My relatives have no respect for my wishes and as a result I have cut all ties with them. I would say that I've had zero contact with them for over a decade except they've tried various times to contact me and have tried to arrange a christian burial for me IN SECRET when I was sick at the hospital (they knew very well that I'm not a christian and would never want such a burial which is why they were planning it in secret) They weren't even supposed to be at the hospital. They were able to come into my room because they were relatives and yes they already knew I wouldn't wan them there. I wasn't able to kick them out until after I was conscious enough to do so.

I'm so tired of dealing with this. I hate all the legal rights they seem to have over my life simply because they are blood relatives. My mother even gets copies of my birth certificates sent to her somehow because she just shows that she's my mother and she can get them- despite the fact that I'm 32 years old now. What she uses them for I don't know.

I just want to live my life separated from these folks. I don't want them to have any rights over my birth certificates or documents. I wish they didn't have my ss#, but they unfortunatley do because it was assigned as an infant. I don't want them to have rights over my burial. I could write a will for after my death to make sure my body doesn't get a christian mark on it, but that only takes care of the death part. How can I sever all their rights while I'm still living?
posted by lazywanderer to Law & Government (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
A lawyer can help you with this. I'd start with a cease and desist, and then move to a restraining order if they continue to harass you. Depending on your state, you can also change your name.

Can you move? Is there someone in your life for whom you can grant power of attorney for medical situations?

I'm so sorry you're going through this.
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:28 AM on February 5, 2017 [7 favorites]


No, you cannot terminate a blood relationship.

I hate all the legal rights they seem to have over my life simply because they are blood relatives. My mother even gets copies of my birth certificates sent to her somehow because she just shows that she's my mother and she can get them- despite the fact that I'm 32 years old now. What she uses them for I don't know.

*I* can get a copy of your birth certificate. It's a public record. If you are concerned what she uses them for, check your credit and look for identity theft.

have tried to arrange a christian burial for me IN SECRET when I was sick at the hospital (they knew very well that I'm not a christian and would never want such a burial which is why they were planning it in secret)

Write a will. Write two kinds, in fact - a regular will and a living will or healthcare proxy. In the absence of a will, you nearest willing relative gets to make decisions. With a will, an executor, a living will, and a living will apointee, other people you nominate get to make those decisions.

They weren't even supposed to be at the hospital. They were able to come into my room because they were relatives.

You can tell the charge nurse you do not want visitors and you will not have visitors. You can tell the charge nurse you don't want specific visitors, and they will not be allowed in.

I wasn't able to kick them out until after I was conscious enough to do so.

If they sneak in, they can be removed by security, but you need to sort it out with the nursing station in advance that you do not want any relatives allowed in.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:30 AM on February 5, 2017 [19 favorites]


I'm not an attorney - and an attorney would be a good person to consult (as is the tradition on metafilter).

That said, do you have a partner or trusted friend that you could rely on to serve as your advocate? Ask them if you can name them as your executor. Write a will. Make sure it is notarized and several people have copies of it.

Second, how are your relatives getting information about you? A common friend? Social media? If the latter, you may consider locking down the settings on your social media. If a common friend or acquaintance - consider having a conversation with them and asking them to stop providing information about you to your relatives. If you move, that is a great time to lock your information down and don't provide a forwarding address.

Third, if you have a very trusted partner or friend, you may want to consider giving them legal power of attorney and writing explicit instructions that your relatives not be permitted to visit you in the hospital, etc. You may also check with your health care provider - mine gives me a way to identify who I want contacted and who I don't.

Good luck!
posted by arnicae at 9:30 AM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


Like a friend once told me after I told him how I wanted my death to be handled: what does it matter if you're dead? He had a point.

Also, birth certificate information is a public record in many countries so it'd be difficult for you to stop your mother from getting a copy.

But for now,

Option A: get married and ask your spouse to keep the relatives at bay if you're unable to do so yourself

Option B: a restraining order
posted by Kwadeng at 9:31 AM on February 5, 2017


I should also mention that I have taken some legal action in the past with a lawyer stating they were to stay away from me at all costs. As a result they did stop showing up at my door and stuff, but they still do things in a more underhanded way now which I find out (like use my ss# to find out where I work and find out the new name I use). I think it's a darn crime that one's ss# is assigned at birth. I did change my name, but since they had my ss # they were able to find out what it was. The cease and desist does not stop them from being able to get my birth certificates either because according to the law in my state a relative can get copies mailed to them if they show they are an immediate family member.
posted by lazywanderer at 9:32 AM on February 5, 2017


You can change your SSN if it's being used to harras you. Not sure if this rises to that level, but may be worth investigating. link
posted by willnot at 9:56 AM on February 5, 2017 [22 favorites]


I assume you have been documenting this stalking?

Step 1 - treat this like identity theft and add passcodes to all accounts, adopt all fraud protection measures available. Call/research with state and federal agencies regarding your documents like birth certificates - undoubtedly there are fraud protections available - get your options together. It's not true your birth certificate is a public document. I know this for reasons, so go ahead and find out the particulars for your jurisdiction. There are ways to lock down your personal documents, follow guidelines and protections offered to protect from identity theft.

Step 2 - get a permanent restraining order. See a new lawyer since the old one did not take you very seriously. This gives you lots of protections, and I urge you to gain this type of legal protection.

I'm sorry about this last suggestion, but...

Step 3 - move far away.

I know uprooting yourself sucks, but it can also be a grand adventure. Stay within driving distance of your relatives if you want to continue to deal with this. I suggest instead you work with a lawyer to secure your privacy and then move far away, but still somewhere the permanent restraining order will be enforced by authorities.
posted by jbenben at 10:04 AM on February 5, 2017 [18 favorites]


I second jbenben.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:08 AM on February 5, 2017 [4 favorites]



They weren't even supposed to be at the hospital. They were able to come into my room because they were relatives.


In this day and age of electronic medical records, it might be worth contacting your hospital system of choice (your primary care doc may even be able to do this for you) to see if it's possible to have added to your patient notes that only a "white list" of your own choosing should ever be able to visit you again during an admission. This will be that much more effective if you have taken legal steps (restraining orders, etc.).
posted by blue suede stockings at 11:30 AM on February 5, 2017 [4 favorites]


Assuming that you don't have a spouse or children (I'm inferring not), you really need to get a will and a health care power of attorney together. Otherwise, not only might these horrible people have control over your final life-and-death decisions (and these kinds of Christians are likely to force you to linger on in whatever suffering rather than remove life support), but when you die, based on your state's intestacy laws, they're very likely to inherit your money! I know people who have written wills solely to avoid this outcome.

In the meantime, I would also (a) order free copies of your credit report from each agency and (b) get a credit freeze. The likelihood of identity theft is way too high with relatives randomly obtaining copies of your birth certificate.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to entirely provide against the practical effects of the default assumption that, if your next-of-kin shows up in a crisis, he or she can be entrusted with your rights. Best to try to keep the information from them at all. Make sure you have other emergency contacts provided everywhere. If you have traitorous relatives or friends who are passing information to your parents (someone told them you were in the hospital!)--and you are very serious about wanting to keep information from them--you need to cut them out altogether. Better to avoid social media altogether. Use your state's address confidentiality program if it has one. Basically, act like you have a stalker, because you do.
posted by praemunire at 11:50 AM on February 5, 2017 [9 favorites]


The best and easiest way for you to remove your blood relatives from their status as next of kin is to get married. Your spouse will automatically become your primary next of kin and be the person who has the right to determine who visits you in the hospital, what is done with your body, etc. This is maybe not the best reason to get married but in your case it will be a nice bonus.
posted by bq at 1:06 PM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


Every hospital in the US allows for the use of an allias. These are the exact situations in which they are designed for.

The legal route is most likely the best, and make sure your living will, advance directives and medical power of attorney all state in an appropriate way that these people have no right to make any decision ever. It is also useful to give copies to 1) the hospital an ambulance is most likely to take you tofrom your home 2) you PCP and 3) your preferred hospital.

Lawyer would be the best for a long term solution.

I'm sorry this is happening to you. It is not your fault.
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:23 PM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


If you have a current restraining order make sure to enforce it by informing the authorities of every single infraction regardless of how underhanded or indirect.

It may need to be rewritten to include the smaller things as well.
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:31 PM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


Reiterating the need for a living will.

The living will instructs medical professionals and your loved ones how you would like your care to be if you are incapacited.

This site
has blank living wills for every state. They are extremely easy to fill out (intended for the layperson) and you can go into as much detail as you would like. Let those close to you know that you have one so if the worst should happen they know to look.

Along with that I would also fill out a Health Care Power of Attorney - allowing someone of your choosing to act on your behalf if you are unable. You can specify which rights your POA person would have, like ability to authorize medical procedures on your behalf, or transfer you to a different hospital, or fire a home care nurse. If you do fill out a Health Care Power of Attorney form, you should let that person know about your Living Will and make sure they have a copy.

In addition, I would write out a statement regarding your wishes after death - what you want to happen to your body, who you would like to make arrangements, what those arrangements should be, what they definitely should not be, where you would like to be buried / scattered / enreefed. Make sure this is findable as well. This may be something that a lawyer would tell you to put in your will itself, but I am definitely not a lawyer so I personally would write it separately.

If you can be admitted to the hospital under an alias, I think that's a great idea.
posted by amicamentis at 1:37 PM on February 6, 2017


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