Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

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Wife appealed the trial court’s judgment dissolving her marriage to Husband, challenging the court’s distribution of marital property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court (1) equitably divided the marital assets and debts in a manner that is definite and capable of enforcement; (2) did not err in assigning no present value to Husband’s defined benefit pension plan through the Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement Benefit Plan; and (3) properly considered the factors in Mo. Rev. Stat. 452.330 and did not err in ordering Wife to pay Husband an equalization share. View "Landewee v. Landewee" on Justia Law

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Dianna Holm appealed a judgment granting her a divorce from Thomas Holm and dividing their marital property. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the district court's treatment as compensation of dividends received from stock purchased from Thomas' employer, and the court's valuation and award of the stock, were not clearly erroneous. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. View "Holm v. Holm" on Justia Law

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Chad Lizakowski appealed a divorce judgment distributing marital property and awarding spousal support and attorney fees. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's distribution of marital property and award of spousal support. However, the Court reversed the district court's award of attorney fees, and remanded for reconsideration of Chad Lizakowski's request for fees. View "Lizakowski v. Lizakowski" on Justia Law

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Jessica Klein appealed the district court's temporary order for custody after it denied her motion to transfer jurisdiction to Iowa. Klein argued the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and North Dakota was an inconvenient forum to hear the case. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding North Dakota properly retained exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the matter and did not abuse its discretion in finding North Dakota to be a convenient forum. View "North Dakota v. Winegar" on Justia Law

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After they were married, Mother and Father had a child. Before their child was born, the parties failed to reach an agreement regarding the child’s surname. The parties were estranged when their child was born, and Mother gave the child her surname. Thereafter, Father filed a complaint for divorce and filed a petition to change the child’s surname to his last name. The district court determined that the child’s name should be hyphenated to include both parents’ surnames. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that it was in the best interest of the child to change the child’s surname. View "Petit v. Adrianzen" on Justia Law

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Defendant Ashley Nutbrown-Covey is the mother of three children: J.N., born in 2013; A.N., born in 2008; and A.C., born in 2004. In August 2011, defendant and A.N.’s father took A.N. (then three years old) to the emergency room for an injury to A.N.’s leg. A.N. was examined by a physician, whose treating records indicate that although it was obvious that A.N. was injured, there were no deformities or external bruising to A.N.’s leg. The physician ordered X-ray examinations, which showed that A.N. was suffering from a spiral fracture of the left leg, meaning that A.N.’s leg had been subjected to significant torque. Although the physician was a mandated reporter, he did not notify the Department for Children and Families (DCF) of A.N.’s injury because nothing indicated that A.N. had been injured by defendant or any other adult. Neither DCF nor the State took any action until 2014. This case presented the question whether the doctrine of issue preclusion bars the State from prosecuting defendant for alleged abuse of one child, A.N., after the family court, in an earlier child-in-need-of-supervision (CHINS) proceeding involving a different child, J.N., found that there was insufficient evidence to adjudicate J.N. CHINS for being without proper parental care or subsistence. The Vermont Supreme Court held that, given the facts of this case, the prosecution was not barred by issue preclusion. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion to dismiss. View "Vermont v. Nutbrown-Covey" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant seeking to establish paternity, custody, and support of the parties’ minor child. Thereafter, Plaintiff moved to disqualify Defendant’s privately retained legal counsel. The district court granted the motion. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider, which the district court denied. Defendant then filed a purported appeal from the court’s order, assigning seven errors relating to the district court’s disqualification of her attorney. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding (1) this Court improperly exceeded its statutory and constitutional authority twenty years ago when it adopted the so-called Richardson exception to the final order requirement, and therefore, the Court’s line of decisions purporting to authorize an interlocutory appeal are hereby overruled; and (2) because the appeal from the order at issue in this case is not statutorily authorized, the appeal is dismissed. View "Heckman v. Marchio" on Justia Law

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Jay Bergmeier filed a complaint for dissolution of marriage. Nanci Bergmeier filed a counter-complaint. The district court filed a decree of dissolution of marriage that (1) determined Jay’s future termination payments and extended termination payments that he was expected to receive after the dissolution as a “captive agent” of State Farm Insurance Company were marital property and awarded Nanci a portion thereof, (2) divided the parties’ liabilities and other assets, and (3) awarded Nanci alimony and attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed in part as modified and in part reversed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in determining that Jay’s termination payments and extended termination payments under his contract with State Farm were marital property; (2) erred in assigning a specific value to the termination payments and in awarding Nanci fifty percent of the termination payments and extended termination payments; and (3) did not abuse its discretion in its award of alimony. Remanded. View "Bergmeier v. Bergmeier" on Justia Law

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B.R.C.M., an unaccompanied minor from Guatemala, illegally entered the United States at age thirteen and was released to his godmother as a sponsor. Thereafter, a private petition was filed on behalf of B.R.C.M. alleging three grounds for adjudication of dependency under Fla. Stat. 39.01(15). The circuit court denied the petition after a hearing during which the court made no factual findings. The Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the summary denial of the petition, concluding that B.R.C.M. was not entitled to the protections of Chapter 39 because he was not “truly” abandoned, abused, or neglected and because his petition was filed for the sole purpose of seeking an immigration status. The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District, holding that B.R.C.M.’s private petition for dependency warranted individualized consideration and adjudication rather than summary denial. Remanded. View "B.R.C.M. v. Florida Department of Children & Families" on Justia Law

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Milton and Geneva Martin sought grandparent visitation with their two grandsons after they were denied visitation by Kimberly and Brandon Smith, the children’s biological mother and adoptive father. Marty Martin, the children’s father and the Martins’ son, was deceased. The Chancery Court granted grandparent visitation to the Martins, the Smiths appealed, and the case was assigned to the Mississippi Court of Appeals, which affirmed. After review, the Supreme Court found no error with the Court of Appeals or the Chancery Court’s orders, and affirmed. View "Smith v. Martin" on Justia Law