State Justices Rule Divorce Didn’t Occur

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A Lawrence County couple’s pending divorce didn’t take effect, even though the wife and husband agreed on the terms.

The reason was the husband died before the circuit judge could officially grant it. 

The South Dakota Supreme Court released the decision Thursday.

Arthur and Charlotte Andersen married October 16, 2004. She filed for divorce January 27, 2015.

At a trial November 15, 2017, the two said they reached an agreement that would take effect March 1, 2018 and would be back-dated to December 31, 2017.

But Arthur died February 20, 2018.

Circuit Judge Michelle Comer then dismissed the divorce proceeding at the wife’s request three days later.

A sister representing his estate appealed. The Supreme Court ruled 4-0 for the wife Thursday.

Chief Justice David Gilbertson wrote the decision, saying Art’s death had ended the marriage and the circuit judge didn’t err in refusing to proceed with the divorce.

“The parties’ stipulation agreement and the words of the court binding the parties to the agreement were not final. The important and final judicial act of actually entering a judgment and decree of divorce was left to be completed before Art’s death,” Gilbertson wrote.

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