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COA once again rules guardians have no authority to file for divorce

October 24, 2013

Indiana law does not allow guardians the ability to petition for the dissolution of marriage on their ward’s behalf, the Indiana Court of Appeals held for the second time in nearly four months. The appeals court reversed the grant of a divorce filed by an incapacitated man’s daughters, who are his co-guardians.

Leora McGee appealed the Lake Superior Court’s grant of the petition filed by Robert McGee’s children Sharon Hilton and Judith Kalajian on his behalf. While Leora McGee was in the hospital, the daughters moved their father to a nursing home out of state and filed the dissolution petition. The McGees had been married for nearly three years. Leora McGee objected to the filing, testifying they had a good marriage.

Citing State ex rel. Quear v. Madison Circuit Court, 229 Ind. 503, 99 N.E.2d 254, 256 (1951) and the July decision in Marriage of Tillman v. Tillman, 87A05-1212-DR-619, the Court of Appeals again pointed out that neither the current Indiana law governing dissolution of marriage nor those governing the guardianship of incapacitated persons provides a means for a guardian to file a petition for dissolution of marriage on behalf of his or her ward.

“In a world full of subsequent marriages and available pre-nuptial agreements, we will not read into a statute such a sweeping and potentially overreaching authority, authority that is not the clearly expressed intent of the General Assembly,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote in In Re the Marriage of Leora McGee v. Robert McGee, 45A04-1301-DR-33.

 

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