Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed October 4, 2012


 Karbin v. Karbin, 2012 IL 112815


Appellate citation: 2011 IL App (1st) 101545.


      JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.


      A married woman suffered brain damage after a serious car accident in 1997 and became totally disabled, requiring full-time care. Her husband became unable to care for her by 2004, due to his own Parkinson’s disease. The woman went to Ohio to live with her daughter, who became plenary guardian. In 2007, after living apart for nearly three years, the husband filed a petition for marriage dissolution in the circuit court of Cook County, and, in 2008, the guardian filed a counterpetition for marriage dissolution on behalf of the disabled ward. The husband subsequently made a motion for voluntary dismissal of his own dissolution petition, which was granted. The court then realigned the parties so that the wife was denominated as petitioner. Claiming that the wife had said that she did not really want a divorce, the husband moved to dismiss the dissolution request made by the guardian on behalf of the wife, claiming the guardian had no authority to seek it. He relied on In re Marriage of Drews, 115 Ill. 2d 201 (1986). The circuit court agreed with him and dismissed the wife’s petition, and the appellate court affirmed.

      In this decision, the supreme court overruled the 1986 case, which had involved proceedings commenced before enactment of the no-fault divorce law now in effect. Case law since that time has not been consistent with the strict statutory construction applied in the 1986 ruling, and the supreme court said that protection of vulnerable individuals, such as the wife here, should now be allowed .

      In reversing the judgments below, the supreme court held that, on remand, the guardian must satisfy a clear and convincing burden of proof that marriage dissolution is in the ward’s best interest.