When 80-year-old Beverly Marsico decided to divorce her 84-year-old husband Louis, Louis had no interest in participating in the proceedings. He asked his daughter by a previous marriage, whom he had designated as having power of attorney, to appear in court on his behalf.
But Beverly objected, and a New Jersey judge ruled that Louis had no right to avoid participating in his own divorce proceedings, even if he wanted to.
The judge said that the participation of the actual parties in a divorce is critical for determining the facts and resolving all issues equitably.
Also, allowing spouses to avoid participating would enable them to avoid disclosure of key information and shield themselves from cross-examination, the judge added. Leaving everything to a third party who doesn’t necessarily know the real truth about the matters in dispute would prevent the other spouse from receiving a fair hearing.
Of course, a power of attorney might be appropriate if a spouse were physically or mentally incompetent to take part in the proceedings – but that wasn’t the case here.