Adoption and child custody, as we’ve been discussing in recent weeks, are two situations in which one individual is responsible for making major decisions on behalf of another (in these cases, a child or minor). However, there are other times when this kind of decision-making power is called for. When it is, it’s important that there be no question as to who has the legal authority to do so.

Just recently, this was illustrated in a turn of events involving celebrity couple Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom. Our Dallas readers may recall that the couple were married in 2009 in a televised ceremony and filed divorce papers back in 2013, but the judge had not yet finalized their divorce. Then last month, Odom was found unresponsive — apparently from a drug overdose — in a Nevada brothel.

Odom was taken to the hospital and is reportedly improving with therapy. Kardashian has been with him at the hospital and has made a unique legal request. She asked the court to dismiss their divorce filing, but with the option to re-file the papers in the future if desired. The request was granted by the court clerk.

Why dismiss the filing in this way? One answer is that Kardashian wants to retain the legal authority, as Odom’s wife, to make medical decisions on his behalf as he is recovering. This kind of legal decision making is something married couples can take advantage of that unmarried couples cannot.

Kardashian stresses that “only time will tell” what will become of their marriage, but that a dismissal for now was “smarter.” Dallas couples with similar concerns about how a divorce might affect their legal rights towards each other, their children, or any other decision-making powers may wish to consult a family law professional.