Connecticut's Supreme Court reluctantly ruled that a mother who abandoned her 2-year-old son is entitled to half the $300,000 awarded his estate after the boy's death 13 years later.
Justice Robert J. Callahan said in a unanimous decision that Suzanne Benson could collect $150,000 because state inheritance laws do not distinguish between parents who abandon their children and those who raise them.In a rare move, however, the Supreme Court recommended on Monday that the Legislature change the law. Currently, a parent can be denied half the estate only if parental rights have been formally terminated after a court hearing.
"It does create an unjust situation," said attorney Kerin M. Woods, who represented Kenneth Hotarek of Old Lyme, the boy's father.
Hotarek and Benson divorced when their son, Paul Hotarek, was 2. He died at age 15 in 1986 when his bicycle collided with a car. The father's insurance company paid a settlement to the boy's estate because the motorist was underinsured.
Benson, who had moved to Hurricane, Utah, learned of her son's death 17 months later. She filed for half of the estate, as provided by state law in cases of children who die without a will.