Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the superior court revoking Appellant's pension benefits and denying his request for return of his retirement contributions paid into the Employees' Retirement System of the State of Rhode Island (ERSRI), holding that the superior court erred in part.The superior court revoked Appellant's pension benefits, denied his request for return of his retirement contributions paid to the ERSRI, and ordered that retirement payments made to his spouse be applied towards his restitution obligations. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment in part, holding that the trial justice (1) did not err in revoking Defendant's pension benefits; (2) did not err in declaring that Appellant's spouse was an innocent spouse and awarding pension payments; (3) erred in directing the spouse to pay her payments as an innocent spouse towards Defendant's restitution obligations; and (4) vacated the portion of the judgment declining to apply Appellant's pension contributions to his restitution obligations. View "Retirement Board of Employees' Retirement System of State of R.I. v. Randall" on Justia Law

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Respondent Ryanne Earley appealed a final divorce decree awarding petitioner Wm. Michael Earley part of her interest in an irrevocable life insurance trust established by her parents. She argued the trial court erred by classifying her interest in the trust as marital property subject to equitable division under RSA 458:16-a (Supp. 2020). Because the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded the trial court’s decision was contrary to RSA 564-B:5-502 (2019), it reversed in part, vacated the remainder of the property division determination, and remanded for further proceedings. View "In the Matter of Wm. & Ryanne Earley" on Justia Law

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Defendant Bryan Luikart appealed a circuit court order which imposed a portion of his suspended sentence. Defendant argue the trial court erred in finding that the State met its burden of proving he violated the good behavior condition of his suspended sentence by committing witness tampering. In 2018, defendant pled guilty to various charges and was sentenced to 90 days’ incarceration, suspended for a period of two years. Conditions on defendant’s suspended sentence included that defendant “complete [a] batterer’s intervention program and be of good behavior.” Following his sentencing, defendant enrolled in his first batterer’s intervention program, but his participation in the program ended on January 24, 2019, for reasons irrelevant to this appeal. As a result of defendant’s departure from the program, the State moved to impose defendant’s suspended sentence on February 8. Defendant enrolled in a second batterer’s intervention program on February 19, and the State withdrew its motion to impose. Three days later, defendant sent an e-mail to his ex-wife. On March 7, the State filed a new motion to impose defendant’s suspended sentence. After a hearing, the trial court granted the State’s motion to impose, finding the evidence before it “sufficient to grant the State’s motion, at least generally.” The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that, even when viewed in the light most favorable to the State, the evidence adduced at the motion hearing failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence, that defendant committed witness tampering. Witness tampering was the only theory advanced by the State in support of its motion alleging that defendant violated his condition to be of good behavior, and Supreme Court did not interpret the trial court’s ruling as having independently found, from the evidence before it, that the defendant’s behavior amounted to another type of criminal conduct which violated the good behavior condition. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "New Hampshire v. Luikart" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court's denial of Mother's request seeking to order Father to pay half of her expenses for prenatal medical care and the birth of the parties' child, holding that the district court lacked the authority to grant relief.A hearing officer found Father was the child's father and ordered him to pay monthly child support. Mother later filed a request for expenses asking that Father pay half of her prenatal medical and child birth expenses. The district court denied the request. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court's authority to award prenatal care and birth expenses expired before Mother sought reimbursement. View "Carman v. Harris" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court terminating Parents' parental rights to their two children, holding that the trial court remained vested with jurisdiction over the suit when it entered the final decree.In their appeal, Parents argued that the trial court's final decree terminating their parental rights was void because the trial on the merits did not commence before the dismissal date and because Tex. Fam. Code 263.401 divested the trial court of jurisdiction before the final degree was signed. The court of appeals held that the final decree was void because the trial court did not timely commence trial on the merits, thus stripping the court of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the facts and circumstances of this case, the trial court had jurisdiction when it entered the final decree. View "In re G.X.H." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Father's Wyo. R. Crim. P. 60(b)(4) motion seeking relief from the district court's child custody and support order, holding that Rule 60(b)(4) could not relieve Father from the district court's child support order.As part of the parties' divorce decree, the district court ordered Father to pay the $50 minimum support obligation prescribed by Wyo. Stat. Ann. 20-2304(b) to Mother. Father later brought this action moving from relief from the child custody and support order, arguing that the child support order was void because Wyo. section 20-2304(b) is unconstitutional. The motion was deemed denied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the child support order would be voidable, not void, Rule 60(b)(4) could not relieve Father from the child support order. View "Carroll v. Gibson" on Justia Law

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In this certified conflict case, the Supreme Court held that a final judgment that modifies a preexisting parenting plan does not need to give a parent "concrete steps" to restore lost time-sharing and return to the premodification status quo.The parties in this case, the unmarried parents of a minor child, entered into a paternity agreement and parenting plan that was incorporated in a final judgment. Father later filed a petition to modify the parties' original parenting plan. The court entered a final judgment modifying the parenting plan. Mother appealed, arguing that the lower court's order was legally flawed because it lacked "concrete steps" that Mother could work toward to regain her lost timesharing. The court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court approved the decision below, holding that Mother's arguments in favor of a concrete steps requirement failed. View "C.N. v. I.G.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reinstated the judgment of the circuit court finding that Mother neglected her daughter and terminating Mother's parental rights, holding that the circuit court's termination of Mother's parental rights was supported by substantial evidence.The court of appeals reversed the termination of Mother's parental rights, concluding that the circuit court clearly erred in finding that termination was supported by clear and convincing evidence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) substantial evidence supported the trial court's finding that the child was in the custody of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services for fifteen of the preceding forty-eight months; and (2) the trial court's findings under Ky. Rev. Stat. 625.090(2)(e) and (g) were not clearly erroneous. View "Cabinet for Health & Family Services v. H.L.O." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the family court terminating Father's parental rights to Child, holding that the court's findings were not supported by substantial evidence.Through two dependency, neglect and abuse cases, two domestic violence cases, and one dissolution case, Child was never adjudicated to be an abused or neglected child. After Father's parental rights to Child were terminated, Father appealed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding (1) the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) does not apply to interstate placements of children with their biological parents, and therefore, an ICPC home study shall not be required for a noncustodial parent who is the subject of allegations or findings of child abuse or neglect; and (2) because much of the case against Father was based on his failure successfully to complete an ICPC home study, the court erred in terminating Father's parental rights. View "A.G. v. Cabinet for Health & Family Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Mother's request to move the children she shared with Father out of state to live with her new husband and in modifying custody, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.After the parties divorced, Mother was awarded sole physical custody over the children, subject to parenting time with Father. When Mother remarried, she filed her removal request. The trial court denied the request, concluding that the move was not in the children's best interests. Instead, the trial court awarded sole physical custody over the children to Father, subject to Mother's parenting time. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying removal and modifying custody. View "Korth v. Korth" on Justia Law