Tillman Ruling Stands: Guardians Cannot File for Divorce on Behalf of Wards in Indiana

As an update to a blog published by KDDK attorney Maria L. Bulkley (formerly Maria L. Worthington), the Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer in the case of Tillman v. Tillman on October 10, 2013.  87A05-1212-DR-619, 2013 WL 3376920 (Ind. Ct. App. July 3, 2013), trans. denied.  Therefore, the rule stands that, in Indiana, guardians cannot file for divorce on behalf of their wards.

On Thursday, October 24, 2013, the Court of Appeals issued another opinion, McGee v. McGee, in which it cited the Tillman case and held, “the right to a divorce is a legislatively-created right, not a judicially-created right.”

The Court further explained, “While the statutes governing dissolution and guardianship in Indiana have evolved since 1951, when Quear was decided, it is still the case today that neither the current Indiana statutes governing dissolution of marriage nor those governing the guardianship of incapacitated persons provide a means for a guardian to file a petition for dissolution of marriage on behalf of his or her ward.”

Thus, without legislative enactment clearly expressing the General Assembly’s intent to permit the filing of a dissolution on behalf of a ward, a guardian will not be permitted to file for dissolution.

For information regarding dissolution of marriage in guardianship situations or any area of family law, please contact Maria L. Bulkley (formerly Maria L.  Worthington) at mbulkley@KDDK.com or (812) 423-3183.

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