This case considered whether the court should overrule the long-standing case of In re Marriage of Drews, 115 Ill.2d 201 (1986). The Drews’ case held that a plenary guardian was not able to initiate dissolution of marriage proceedings on behalf of the ward.
The answer is ‘yes’. This court believed that a guardian does have the authority to seek permission from the court to file a dissolution petition on behalf of the ward. If such petition is found to be in the ward’s best interest.
There was a serious car accident. Wife suffered brain damage and became totally disabled. She required full-time care. Husband was appointed plenary guardian of wife’s person and estate. For the next seven years, husband provided for wife’s needs in their home.
Some years later, husband could no longer care for wife due to his own Parkinson’s disease. He transferred his plenary guardianship of wife to Kara.
Husband and wife lived apart for nearly three years. Husband petitioned the circuit court for a divorce. The petition alleged non-cohabitation and irreconcilable differences. Wife, through Kara, filed a verified counterpetition.
She alleged the same bases as husband had in his petition. She claimed that it appeared he was concealing assets and income. Wife further claimed that other documents showed that husband had been romantically involved with another woman for some time. She alleged that he and the woman were living together. In a residence which wife believed husband purchased with marital funds.
Husband dismissed his petition. He moved to dismiss wife’s counterpetition. Under the Drews’ case, the trial court felt that it had to dismiss wife’s counterpetition. Wife appealed through her guardian.
The Appellate Court chose not to follow the Drews case. Otherwise, the court felt that they would be allowing the law to unfairly treat incompetent spouses. They would be left at the complete mercy of the competent spouse without consideration of their best interests.
Guardianship is intended to “promote the well-being of the disabled person. [and] to protect him from neglect, exploitation, or abuse.”
Karbin v. Karbin ex rel Hibler, 2012 IL 112815.