Judiciary committee to consider guardians being able to file for divorce

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Tackling an issue that has appeared in the Court of Appeals twice in recent months, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear legislation that would allow guardians to file for divorce on behalf incapacitated adults.

Senate Bill 59 is one of eight bills on the committee’s agenda Wednesday. Under the proposed bill, a court would be able to grant a guardian’s request for permission to file for divorce only if the guardian proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the dissolution is in the best interest of the protected person.

The guardian must be named in a petition for dissolution of marriage and must file with that petition a copy of the court order granting the request for permission to file the petition.

Indiana law does not currently allow a guardian to petition for dissolution of marriage on a ward’s behalf. The Indiana Court of Appeals issued opinions in October and July on this topic, in one case reversing the grant of a divorce filed by an incapacitated man’s daughters, who are his co-guardians.

The appellate judges cited caselaw from 1951 to support their rulings and also pointed out that the current laws governing dissolution of marriage and guardianship of incapacitated persons do not provide a means for a guardian to file for divorce on behalf of his or her ward. Court of Appeals Judge Paul Mathias wrote in In Re the Marriage of Leora McGee v. Robert McGee, 45A04-1301-DR-33, “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.”

The committee meets at 9 a.m. in Room 130 at the Statehouse. Also being heard Wednesday:

•    SB 41 provides that property sold at auction in a partition sale shall be sold without relief from valuation or appraisement laws.
•    SB 138, on victim advocates in civil proceedings, removes restrictions on grants from the victim services division of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute for certain entities to enter into a contract with the domestic violence prevention and treatment council. The bill also provides that a court may allow a victim advocate to attend a civil proceeding and confer with a victim as necessary. A victim advocate is not considered to be practicing law when performing certain services.
•    SB 227 expands immunity from arrest or prosecution for certain alcohol offenses if the arrest or prosecution is due to the person reporting a medical emergency, being the victim of a sex crime, or witnessing and reporting a crime. Current law provides immunity only if the person reports a medical emergency that is due to alcohol consumption.
•    SB 229 on firearm buyback programs
•    SB 305 on Schedule I drugs and “spice”
•    SB 291 on human trafficking investigations
•    SB 312, on the assignment of lottery prizes, allows a person who wins a prize payable in installments from the lottery commission to assign the future prize payments under certain circumstances upon court approval.



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  1. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

  2. Steele did more than what is listed too. He purposely sought out to ruin me, calling potential employers and then lied about me alleging all kinds of things including kidnapping. None of his allegations were true. If you are in need of an ethical and very knowledgeable family law paralegal, perhaps someone could post their contact information. Ethics cannot be purchased, either your paralegal has them or they do not.

  3. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise