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Husband allowed to petition for survivor's allowance

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Even though a wife had filed for divorce from her husband at the time she was killed, the husband is still allowed to petition for survivor’s allowance, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Wednesday. The appellate judges cited caselaw from the 1800s to support their decision.

Melissa and Jason Patrick had issues in their marriage, and Melissa filed for divorce. Jason admitted that he also considered divorce, but Melissa filed before him. Jason began a relationship with Sarah Jones, who was divorcing her husband. Jason stayed at Jones’ house a few times a week. Melissa began a relationship with Jones’ ex-husband, who later murdered her when she told him she wanted to end their romantic relationship.

Jason filed a petition of surviving spouse for a statutory allowance pursuant to Indiana Code 29-1-4-1. Melissa’s estate argued that I.C. 29-1-2-14 barred the claim, which says “If either a husband or wife shall have left the other and shall be living at the time of his or her death in adultery, he or she as the case may be shall take no part of the estate or trust of the deceased husband or wife.”

Much of the parties’ arguments and evidence dealt with the “living in adultery” aspect of the statute, but didn’t discuss much of the other element of the statute – abandonment. The appellate court focused on the abandonment element, and cited several cases, including ones from 1829, 1866 and 1916 to conclude that in order to divest Jason of his survivor’s share, the estate was required to prove that he “left” Melissa. This means that he left her “willfully, without justification … with an intention of causing a perpetual separation of the parties,” but he couldn’t have “left” her under I.C. 29-1-2-14 if the parting was mutually agreed upon.

The evidence showed when Melissa filed for dissolution,Jason had been staying at his father’s house. The evidence supports that they separated by mutual consent and he exercised regular visitation with his children. The estate did not prove the element of abandonment, so the trial court did not clearly err in denying the estate’s motion to dismiss Jason’s petition for survivor’s allowance, wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander in In the Matter of the Estate of Melissa K. Patrick: Yvonne Griffith v. Jason Patrick, No. 17A03-1104-ES-190.

 

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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