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Can someone with power of attorney sign divorce papers?

San Marcos, CA |

My father in law and his wife, age 73, separated in 2007 after 5 years of marriage. Legal separation papers were prepared, but were never filed. Divorce was not pursued by either of them. They never combined finances or assets during their marriage. Since their separation, she has been diagnosed with dementia and been placed in a nursing home. Her daughter has power of attorney- what kind we do not know. Her daughter is now demanding that my father in law file for divorce, essentially for emotional reasons. Does she have the right to sign divorce papers on her mother's behalf if my father in law files for divorce, or is it a waste of time and money for him to do so?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. The power to sign dissolution papers would depend on the power of attorney - unfortunately exactly the information you don't have. If I was advising the daughter I would recommend that she apply for a conservatorship of her mother's estate and for a specific power to dissolve the marriage. Then it would be up to your father-in-law to determine if he wanted to object.

    Best to you and your family.


  2. This raises a very interesting issue. Whose “emotional reasons” are we talking about? A conservatorship would provide the daughter with power of decision making for her mom. I would be very surprised if the power of attorney contained an expressed power to enter into a dissolution proceeding. What does the husband think about all of this? Unfortunately, attorneys will probably have to get involved.

    Whether or not it’s a waste of time and money is better answered by your father in law consulting an attorney.

    Best of luck to you.

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    This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, does not create an attorney/client relationship and does not create a right to continuing email exchanges.


  3. I do not expect the POA agent may not sign the court papers. However a "GUARDIAN AD LITEM" can be appointed and is less expensive than a conservatorship.

    Here is a sample of one form use to have a guardian appointed. The Guardian Ad Litem is only guardian for the court case.

    The Guardian must use a lawyer, and may not appear in court Pro Per.

    http://forms.lp.findlaw.com/form/courtforms/state/ca/ca000199.pdf