Terri Schiavo's Parents Seek Divorce on Her Behalf

By Jeff Johnson | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Terri Schindler Schiavo's parents have asked Florida's Second District Court of Appeals to grant their daughter a divorce from her husband, Michael Schiavo. They charge him with a conflict of interest based on alleged adultery.

When Robert and Mary Schindler made the plea Monday to Pinellas-Pasco County Circuit Judge George Greer, he refused to accept any new filings in the case that are unrelated to plans for Terri's death.

Greer instructed Michael Schiavo to wait until March 18 to remove his wife's feeding and hydration tube, beginning the process of ending her life by dehydration and starvation. When David Gibbs III, the Schindler family attorney, tried to file some 15 new motions in the case, Greer refused to accept any that were not related directly to Terri's planned death, including the divorce petition.

But Terri's father, Robert Schindler, said the divorce petition must be considered in order to protect Terri from Michael Schiavo.

"We have filed divorce proceedings because of his total disregard for Terri as his wife," Mr. Schindler said. "He's married to Terri, but he's living with another woman and has two children by her.

"It has become quite obvious that his priorities are not what's in Terri's best interests," Mr. Schindler added.

George Felos, Schiavo's attorney, told the Associated Press, "I think everyone knows the parents are going to try anything, including throwing in the kitchen sink, to frustrate the court's final judgment."

But Gibbs countered that for Terri, "Remaining married to (Michael Schiavo) is an embarrassment."

Michael Schiavo announced his "engagement" in 1997 to the woman with whom he has since fathered two children and currently lives. Since that time, he has referred to the woman as his "fiancee" while remaining married to Terri, the Schindlers argue, so that he can continue to deny her rehabilitation and other therapy and to control her estate.

The motions Greer did agree to consider include requests concerning what might be the final days of Terri's life and the period immediately following her death. The Schindler family wants to be able to take photographs with Terri, something Michael Schiavo has forbidden with Greer's approval. They also want some members of the press to be present while they interact with their daughter to document her actual condition.

Robert and Mary Schindler also want Terri to be allowed to die at their home rather than in the hospice where she currently lives. They have also asked that her body be released to them for burial after her death. Michael Schiavo has made arrangements for Terri's body to be cremated immediately upon her death.

The Schindler family is appealing the new motions in Terri's case to the U.S. Supreme Court, as well.

If Terri's nutrition and hydration is discontinued March 18 in accordance with Judge Greer's instructions, doctors expect her to die from dehydration within a week to ten days. She could potentially survive as long as two weeks, long enough for the effects of starvation to set in.

The feeding tube has been removed twice in the past, once for two days and another time for six days.

Terri Schindler Schiavo suffered a brain injury in 1990 under questionable circumstances. Some physicians claim that her condition is a "persistent vegetative state" brought on by oxygen depravation following a heart attack that occurred as the result of a potassium imbalance caused by an eating disorder.

Other doctors have argued that there is physical evidence of an assault or abuse and that Terri's brain injury is the result of that alleged crime. Felos has denied that Michael Schiavo ever abused or assaulted his wife.

To read the most recent past report on the Terri Schindler Schiavo case, click here.

To view the archive of the Cybercast News Service's coverage on Terri Schindler Schiavo, click here.

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