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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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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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