Had Raymond Corder filed for divorce from his wife, or just moved out of their home before he died, Orange County, Calif., Superior Court Judge Randell Wilkinson might have had an easier task.

As it was, the judge had to rely on his own wits — and conflicting testimony — in granting the deceased man’s daughter the lion’s share of a $1.1 million wrongful death settlement. Evidence at trial supported the daughter’s claim that Corder was about to leave his wife.