Jewell v. Jewell, Funeral Expenses For Child, Doctrine Of Necessaries

Jewell v. Jewell, --S.W.3d—(Ky. App. 2008), 2007-CA-000420-MR
Mother appealed from a judgment which found that the father was not liable for any portion of their son’s funeral expenses. Parties divorced in 1990 and the mother was granted sole custody of the parties’ only child. Their son was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and died in 2006. The total funeral costs were $8,538.93. Upon their son’s death, the father received $10,000 in proceeds from a death benefit policy. Trial court found that the father had no obligation to pay any portion of the funeral expenses since the mother had sole custody. COA reversed based on KRS 406.011 and the doctrine of necessaries. The Court likened the non-religion-specific funeral expenses to costs related to pregnancy and child birth, which the father is required to contribute to under KRS 406.011. COA also cited to KRS 403.211, because it viewed the action as a proceeding to modify or interpret the support order. COA found it unjust for the father to collect $10,000 on a death benefits policy, but not require the father to pay half of the child’s funeral expenses.
Digested by Sarah Jost Nielsen, Diana L. Skaggs + Associates