Wednesday, November 27, 2013

MI: Conservator Can File Divorce on Behalf of Ward

The powers of a conservator were recently challenged in a separate maintenance case from Kent County.  The Michigan Court of Appeals held in the Estate of Jeff Bently -v- Ruby Bell Bently, that a conservator could file for separate maintenance and divorce.

The husband was unable to care for his own affairs and had been separated from his wife of 20-years since 2008.  After a conservator was appointed, the conservator promptly filed for separate maintenance; she could have just as easily filed for divorce.

On appeal, the wife argued that the Kent County Family Court Judge did not have the authority to order a judgment of separate maintenance because her husband lacked the capacity to consent to the proposed property division.  In affirming the family court, the Court of Appeals held that the conservatorship statute and applicable court rules provide for a conservator to file law suits and defend law suits on behalf of the protected individual, without limitation.

Based on a plain reading of these applicable statutes and court rules, the Court of Appeals held that a conservator, and presumably a guardian as well, can prosecute a divorce proceeding on behalf of the ward.

Conservator Can File Divorce on Behalf of Ward


Veronica said...

Well isn't this the most convenient thing for a guardian in years?

Barbara said...

I am shocked. This isn't right at all and I hope MI legislators do something about it.

Finny said...

I'm surprised too. Michigan was showing promise in guardianship legislation and now this????

Jessica said...

It just shouldn't be. I can't imagine why it would be appropriate.

Angry Citizen said...

Under Michigans CURRENT laws, once you are appointed a "guardian or a conservator" you are PROPERTY, and your opinion means NOTHING. The rest of the family suffers as much as you do.
And these people systematically steal all of your wealth.
The courts and the Guardian/conservators are in on it.
IT is a crime that goes unprosecuted because families do not have the funds to take this to Federal court where it needs to be addressed as a violation of rights.