Can Guardians Pursue Divorce on Behalf of Wards? Court of Appeals Publishes Ruling.

The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that a guardian has no authority under state law to pursue a dissolution of marriage on behalf of a ward.

In the decision of Tillman v. Tillman, (Ind. Ct. App., July 3, 2013, trans. pending), 2013, a guardian filed for divorce on behalf of her incapacitated father. The underlying purpose for the divorce filing was to avoid the terms of a premarital agreement guardian’s father had entered into in which he agreed to provide for his wife’s “reasonable support, care, and maintenance.”

The Court of Appeals held that since neither the Indiana statutes governing dissolution of marriage nor the statutes regarding the guardianship of incapacitated persons provide any authority for a guardian to obtain a divorce on behalf of a ward, then such cases, if filed, must be dismissed since the trial courts lack jurisdiction in such cases.

This published opinion reflects the work of a litigator with Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn, LLP, who successfully represented the wife/appellee before the trial court and the Indiana Court of Appeals.

For additional information regarding dissolution of marriage in guardianship situations or any area of family law, please contact Maria L. Bulkley at

About the Author

Maria Bulkley

Maria L. Bulkley, a Partner at Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn, LLP, in Evansville, Indiana, practices in the areas of business law, family law and private adoption, mediation, and real estate law. She assists clients with the local government processes connected with land use and real estate development and negotiates encroachment agreements, easement agreements, economic development incentives, and other agreements essential to real estate development; and represents individuals and businesses in real estate takings cases.

In addition, Maria represents clients in family law matters with an emphasis on dissolutions of marriage involving complex marital estates. She serves as a mediator for domestic relations and general civil matters, and is trained and experienced in Collaborative Family Practice.

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