Latest News 2010 September Until Death, and Divorce, Do Us Part

Until Death, and Divorce, Do Us Part

Dr John Yelenic, a dentist in Blairsville, Pa., was murdered on April 13, one day shy of signing his divorce papers. His divorce attorney, Effie Alexander, has continued to work toward the state's first divorce decree after death on Yelenic's behalf, as reported by MSNBC.

Alexander, by way of explanation, said, "You know how people say after someone is dead, 'If there was one thing I could do for him now'? Well, this is really a personal thing for me and my law firm."

Yelenic had separated from his wife, Michele, in 2002.  They agreed to the divorce and had finished a property settlement.

Michele, of Indiana, Pa., met and married John Yelenic 1997.  They adopted a boy, J.J., who is now eight years old.  After their  separation Michele filed for divorce in June of 2003.  Michele cited that the marriage had irretrievably broken down.

John Yelenic, 39, bled to death as the result of a violent attack in his home on April 13.  The investigation is continuing as no suspect, or motive, has been made public. The only thing officials believe is that it was not a random act.  They have also refused to give out any specifics on the actual cause of his death.

In January of 2005 Pennsylvania adopted an amendment to their divorce code that allows for a divorce decree to be issued separate from a property settlement.

This "two-part" divorce is suited for a person wishing to remarry without waiting for a property settlement.  The division of property is usually much more complicated, and time consuming, than a divorce alone.

Before the law had changed, a dead spouse's will, or their estate laws, could hold up the settlement of property.  Under this amendment, a property settlement can be made by a judge if the grounds for the divorce had already existed before the spouse died.  In this case, it was Judge Hanna that approved the settlement's finalization. 

Judge Hanna had been given an affidavit signed by Yelenic attesting that the couple had lived apart for over two years.  Physical separation is grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania.

Daniel Lovette III, Michele Yelenic's attorney, declined to comment, only confirming that he didn't oppose Alexander from seeing the posthumous divorce decree.

The estate attorney, Paul Anthony Bell II, was also unopposed to the posthumous decree and approved of its effectiveness at tying up loose ends.  He said, "It seems to everybody that the divorce decree being granted would definitely put a seal on. I guess we're all leery that something might come up as to the estate aspect of it if the decree is not granted."

In at least one other state, officials are also dealing with posthumous divorces. In Connecticut, millions of dollars are in limbo due to the murder of developer Andrew Kissell.  His estranged wife, Hayley, was in the midst of seeking a divorce.

If you are considering a divorce, contact a Family Lawyer near you today!

Categories: Divorce