Natalee Holloway's father has served papers on her mother seeking to have the teenager, who disappeared during a senior class trip to Aruba in 2005, declared legally dead.
Court papers obtained by ABC News indicate that on April 19, 2011, Dave Holloway signed papers seeking a "petition for presumption of death for persons missing for more than five years." Natalee Holloway vanished on May 30, 2005, more than six years ago, at age 17.
The request was actually filed in probate court on June 21. The court documents state that a hearing on the father's request is scheduled for Sept. 23.
In response to the petition, Beth Holloway, the mother of the missing teen, released a statement saying she was caught by surprise by her ex-husband's move.
"I had no idea Dave was filing this petition. I only learned about this when I was handed the citation by a process server while addressing a large audience at a conference in Georgia. I don't know what this is about, or why Dave is taking this action at this time," she said.
Beth Holloway spoke briefly to ABCNews.com to say she does not intend to agree to have her daughter declared legally dead.
"No, I want to get to the bottom of what's going on from Dave," she said.
Dave Holloway could not immediately be reached for comment.
The court papers state that Natalee left an estate "estimated to be worth approximately $500 and probably not more."
Natalee Holloway's Dad Wants Her Declared Legally Dead
Beth Holloway has been relentless in her efforts to find out what happened to her daughter, even slipping into a Peruvian prison to confront Joran van der Sloot, the Aruban man suspected of killing Natalee.
At one point, she agreed to a sting, seemingly complying with van der Sloot's demand for cash in exchange for information about the location of her daughter's body. The transaction was monitored by Aruba authorities, but van der Sloot left the island before the FBI filed extortion charges.
Before van der Sloot could be arrested on extortion, he was arrested in Peru and charged with killing a woman, Stephany Flores Ramirez, on May 30, 2010, the fifth anniversary of Natalee's disappearance. He has been in a Peruvian prison since.
Natalee Holloway was on the last day of a graduation trip to Aruba with her senior class at Mountain Brook High School in Alabama when she did not return to her hotel.
She was last seen in a car with several people that included van der Sloot.
Extensive searches were carried out on the island and surrounding waters, often with Beth Holloway pleading publicly for someone to come forward and hectoring officials to keep on searching.
In the years after her disappearance, there have been many false leads for police and false hopes for Beth Holloway.
The case was closed by Aruba police in 2007, but reopened in 2008 after van der Sloot was caught on video telling someone that he disposed of her body.
The mystery was cruelly fueled by van der Sloot, who frequently changed his story. He also denied that he disposed of her body.
The investigation into Natalee Holloway's disappearance was criticized by Beth Holloway as well as other experts.
Aruban officials seemed to have learned from the Natalee Holloway case and were being much more aggressive in this year's probe of another missing American woman, Robyn Gardner of Maryland.
The Natalee Holloway Resource Center, a foundation started after Holloway's disappearance, has been offering help to Gardner's boyfriend, Richard Forester.
"It strikes a chord close to home, because that's where my nightmare began, the day I got the call in 2005," Beth Holloway told ABC News last month. "We want to be a first responder to these families. We want to be there to help them."