A dead man cannot obtain a divorce in Pennsylvania, an Indiana County judge ruled Wednesday in what has been cited as a landmark case in Pennsylvania. Common Pleas Judge Carol Hanna refused a request by attorneys for murdered Blairsville dentist Dr. John J. Yelenic Jr. to grant a posthumous divorce.
Attorneys for Yelenic said if the divorce had been granted, it would have been a first in Pennsylvania.
The slain man and Michele Yelenic were married for more than eight years, but were separated for more than two years after a fiery split. Yelenic, 39, was found murdered in his home April 13, a day before he was to sign paperwork finalizing his divorce. No arrests have been made.
His attorneys told the court that if the divorce was denied, the door would be opened for Michele Yelenic to challenge her husband's will. Yelenic's will names his adopted son as his main beneficiary. . . .
"[A] man can no more be divorced after he is dead than he can be married or condemned to death. Marriage is the union of two lives which can be dissolved either by death or by process of law, but after it has been dissolved in one of those ways, you cannot dissolve it again; you cannot untie a knot which has already been untied," [Judge] Hanna said.