Court Rules Son’s Ashes Cannot Be Divided Between Divorced Parents

WELLINGTON, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – A state appeals court ruled Wednesday that the ashes of a young man killed in a car crash cannot be divided among his divorced parents who are feuding.

A three-judge panel at the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that the remains of Scott Wilson are not “property” that can be halved into two equal parts, the Sun Sentinel reported.

“It is a sorrowful matter to have relatives disputing in court over the remains of the deceased,” Judge Martha Warner wrote, the Sun Sentinel reported. “In this case in particular, there is no solution that will bring peace to all parties.”

The court’s decision cited debated about human remains dating as far back as the 1700s, prior cases in Florida, and the state’s current legislation.

Wilson died on Feb. 12, 2010 when he was driving his Hyndai Sonata at the intersection of 120th Avenue and Lake Worth Road. A Bentley driven by John Goodman sped through a stop sign and hit Wilson’s car which was pushed into a canal where he died.

His parents, William Wilson Jr., and Lili Wilson, were divorced at the time of his death and agreed to cremate his body. But they couldn’t agree on how to distribute his ashes because he didn’t leave a will or any instructions on how to treat his remains. The ashes have remained in an urn at a Royal Palm Beach funeral home.

William Wilson Jr. sought to bury his son’s ashes in a family plot in Blue Ridge, Ga. and he asked the court to legally divide the remains, but his ex-wife opposed of dividing the remains.

The father’s lawyer, Joy Bartmon, told the Sun Sentinel she was disappointed with the decision.

“This opinion does not guide the trial court in the determination to be made,” Bartmon wrote in the email to the Sun Sentinel. “Instead, what will occur when the decision as to the ashes goes back to the trial court, is what I wanted to avoid. The final resting place for this young man may be left to the discretion of an administrator who never knew him.”


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