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Bitter end: Couple's divorce involves fight over son's ashes

Most people in San Antonio believe that the worst thing a parent can go through is the death of a child. In an out-of-state divorce case, that worst thing happened to a couple that was already in the midst of a protracted and acrimonious divorce.

Their 23-year-old son was killed in a Florida car accident when a drunken driver slammed into his vehicle and sent it into a canal, where the young man drowned.

In fact, you might well have heard of the case: the drunk driver was a polo magnate and the story of the accident and subsequent trial made headlines around the nation.

The part of the story that did not make headlines was that the parents of the dead man were three years into divorce proceedings at the time he was killed. Two years later, they are still embroiled in disputes over how to separate belongings, including home videos, a baseball card collection and their son's ashes, currently stored in a funeral home office.

Last year, the father petitioned the court to have his son's remains divided so that he could have a "relatively equal" portion and his former wife could, too.

She rejected the suggestion.

Last week, a Palm Beach County judge turned down the request for ash division, too. He urged the couple to try to reconcile their differences on the matter.

He said the young man's remains are not "like a bank account" to be separated into equal parts.

The judge also declined to hear from either party about who loved the son most.

Though this dispute is unique, the level of animosity between the parties is not.

Anyone who is faced with the possibility of a contentious split should look for a family law attorney experienced in successfully piloting difficult disputes through the legal process.

Source: The Orlando Sentinel, "Bitter divorce grabs spotlight for parents of Goodman victim," Ben Wolford, Feb. 1, 2013

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