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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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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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