TAMPA, Fla. – The parents of Terri Schiavo (search) asked a judge to allow the severely brain-damaged woman to divorce her husband — even if she dies — in one of a flurry of 11 new motions filed by the couple.
In the divorce motion filed Monday, Bob and Mary Schindler (search) accused Michael Schiavo (search) of adultery and not acting in his wife's best interests. The Schindlers have less than three weeks to find a way to keep their daughter alive before her feeding tube is removed.
"We have filed divorce proceedings because of (Schiavo's) total disregard for Terri as his wife," Bob Schindler said. "He is married to Terri, but he is living with another woman and he has two children by her. It has become quite obvious that his priorities are not in Terri's best interest."
The Schindlers' attorney, David Gibbs, said the divorce effort is unprecedented, and would allow Terri Schiavo to end her marriage to Michael even after she dies.
The Schindlers and their son-in-law have fought each other at every level of the Florida court system since the late 1990s on whether Terri Schiavo should live or die.
Michael Schiavo says his wife, who has spent 15 years in what doctors call a vegetative state, once told him she would never want to be kept alive artificially. Her parents have fought his efforts but Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer ruled that Schiavo can have her feeding tube removed on March 18.
Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, called the new motions little more than an attempt to clog the case with further delays.
Gibbs said Greer had indicated he will not hear the divorce request and five of the other motions, but that the matters would be appealed.
Also Monday, the couple filed an appeal to overturn Greer's denial of an indefinite stay while they pursue their last legal options. Gibbs said it was not known when the appeals court would act on that motion, or how quickly it would respond to the others coming its way.
Appearing at a rally in Jacksonville, the Schindlers called on Gov. Jeb Bush (search) to look into the circumstances that led to their daughter's 1990 collapse from a chemical imbalance. They asked Attorney General Charlie Crist to investigate whether her civil rights have been violated.
Felos has said that even if Michael Schiavo were to divorce his wife, any new guardian would be obligated to remove Terri Schiavo's feeding tube because the court has ruled it is her wish not to be kept alive artificially.
"I think everyone knows the parents are going to try anything, including throwing in the kitchen sink, to frustrate the court's final judgment and Terri's wishes," Felos said.
Other motions by the Schindlers ask that some news reporters be allowed to see Terri Schiavo's interactions with her parents, since they contend she responds to them; that they be allowed to take pictures with her before she dies and that those photographs not become Michael Schiavo's property, as a current court order now requires; that she be allowed to die at home; and that they be allowed to bury her rather than the cremation her husband has planned.