Casper Family Asks Lawmakers To Let Them Divorce Their Mom, Who Has Dementia

After being denied by the Wyoming Supreme Court, a Casper family is asking state lawmakers to let them divorce their mother, who has Alzheimer's and dementia, from their father.

Clair McFarland

April 26, 20234 min read

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A Casper woman is asking Wyoming lawmakers for a law change to let guardians divorce the people in their care.  

Madonna Flory has Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and is unable to care for herself, according to a Wyoming Supreme Court ruling in her case. Madonna Flory’s son, Lucas Flory, has been her legal guardian since March 2022.  

Lucas’ wife Eileen Flory told the legislative Joint Judiciary Committee during its Tuesday meeting in Sheridan that she and her husband have sought to divorce Madonna Flory from Madonna’s husband, Rand, but Wyoming law does not allow them as Madonna’s legal guardians to do that.  

The Wyoming Supreme Court in an April 10 ruling refused to let Lucas Flory divorce his mother from her husband, saying state laws don’t give that authority.  

“We’re trying to move forward. We’re trying to divide her assets, and we’re unable to do that with (Madonna) continuing to be married to the defendant,” said Eileen Flory.  

Eileen Flory said the family will need Madonna’s assets to fund her eventual move to a nursing home. Madonna now lives with Lucas and Eileen Flory in their Casper home, according to court documents.  

“(Rand) hasn’t had any contact with his spouse for over two years, and she’s not resided with her husband for 26 months,” said Eileen Flory. “He travels the world constantly, he’s out of the country (and) he’s spending their money.”  

Rand Flory did not respond Wednesday to a Cowboy State Daily text message and phone call requesting comment.  

He lives in the couple’s home in Cody, according to case documents.  

It’s difficult for the family to deal with Madonna Flory’s property because Madonna’s husband is often difficult to reach, said Eileen Flory.

Law Not Enough 

Rand Flory’s attorney said the high court made the right choice.  

“It’s pretty clear from their analysis that a guardian cannot file for divorce, and I think that was the correct decision,” Christopher King, his attorney, told Cowboy State Daily.  

The ability to divorce should draw from a strict reading of statute, the state Supreme Court said in its ruling.  

Guardians can sue on their behalf of their wards, and divorces are considered civil matters under Wyoming law. 

But without distinct direction from the Legislature, the court declined to link those two laws to let guardians divorce their wards from other people.  

Electric Shock And Marriage 

Guardians have immense and highly personal powers over their wards, the court’s order notes.  

Guardians can obtain court approval to commit their wards to a mental health facility, submit them to electroshock therapy, psychosurgery, sterilization or long-term contraception. They can give their wards up for adoption or have them married off.  

Guardians also can sue to protect someone in their care from an abusive spouse or a spouse who harms the ward’s property.   

Lucas Flory argued on his mother’s behalf that some of these matters are as intimately personal as divorce, or more so.  

The court agreed, but said it still would not create that ability in law where it doesn’t now exist.  

“This argument runs into the same roadblock discussed above,” says the order. “By granting a guardian specific powers to interfere in the ward’s personal life and not including divorce as one of those powers, the Legislature expressed its clear intention to omit the right to sue for the ward’s divorce from the guardian’s arsenal of powers.”  

Special Interest Laws 

The Wyoming Constitution forbids special interest laws.

For example, the Legislature cannot make a law targeting a specific person. Divorce is one area in which the Constitution forbids lawmakers from making specialized laws for certain people or areas.  

Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, cautioned the committee Tuesday that giving guardians the ability to divorce their wards would have a broader applicability than the Florys’ issue alone. Tailoring a law change too much could run afoul of the special interest law prohibition.  

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter