Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries
In re M.S.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court denying Mother's motion to dismiss the petition filed by the Department of Child Services (DCS) alleging M.S. was a child in need of services (CHINS), holding that the 120-day deadline contemplated by Ind. Code 31-34-11-1(b) may be enlarged only if a party shows good cause for a continuance, and Mother showed good cause for a continuance in this case. Under section 31-34-11-1(d) a trial court must dismiss a CHINS petition if the court does not conclude a fact-finding hearing within 120 days of the State's filing of the petition. At issue int his case was whether the 120-day deadline may be enlarged under Ind. Trial Rule 53.5 if a party to the proceeding moves for a good faith continuance that results in the conclusion of fact-finding beyond the codified 120-day limit. In the instant case, Mother moved for a good faith continuance of the CHINS proceeding. The final order adjudicating M.S. a CHINS was not issued until after the 120-day deadline expired. Mother filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court denied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the 120-day time period may be extended for good cause, and because Mother showed good cause for a continuance, the trial court correctly denied Mother's motion to dismiss. View "In re M.S." on Justia Law
CML v. ADBL
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying a petition filed by Father and Stepmother for adoption of Father and Mother's two minor children pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-22-110(a)(ix), holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Mother's failure to pay seventy percent or more of court-ordered child support for a two-year period was not willful. Father and Stepmother petitioned the district court to allow Stepmother to adopt Father and Mother's two minor children based on Mother's willful failure to pay at least seventy percent of court-ordered support for a two-year period. The district court denied the petition, determining that Mother's failure to pay was not willful. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the district court's finding that Mother's failure to meet her child support obligation was not willful. View "CML v. ADBL" on Justia Law
Chekuri v. Nekkalapudi
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting Appellant a divorce, dividing the parties' marital property, and awarding alimony to Appellee, holding that the circuit court's rulings were not clearly erroneous. The parties in this case entered into an arranged marriage in India. Approximately one year later, Appellant filed a complaint for divorce. After the divorce decree was entered Appellant appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err by equally dividing the funds that Appellant spent during the parties' separation; (2) did not err in deciding to divide equally the marital assets; and (3) did not err by awarding Appellee rehabilitative alimony. View "Chekuri v. Nekkalapudi" on Justia Law
In re: Marriage of Brewster and Clevenger
The parties were married for 21 years before seeking dissolution. Both are physicians; they met in medical school. The trial court denied Wife’s request for spousal support orders because she suffered criminal convictions for acts of domestic violence against Husband and had not overcome the rebuttable presumption set forth in Family Code section 43251 against an award of support to a spouse convicted of domestic violence. The court of appeal affirmed, finding substantial evidence to support the trial court’s factual determinations, The court also upheld the characterization of post-separation payments Husband made to Wife by depositing $10,000 into a joint account for Wife’s use in lieu of temporary spousal support, pursuant to the agreement of the parties. The court of appeal rejected an argument that the trial court did not have jurisdiction over temporary spousal support at the time of the trial and did not have jurisdiction to make retroactive orders and that the trial court erred when it found the deposits taxable to Wife and deductible by Husband. View "In re: Marriage of Brewster and Clevenger" on Justia Law
In re: Marriage of Grimes and Mou
The parties married in 2004. Husband filed a dissolution petition in 2016. The trial court held a hearing on property division and permanent spousal support and ordered Wife to transfer half of the funds then in a brokerage account to Husband and ordering Husband to pay directly to Wife his one-half share of the debt owed to her relatives on their loan to the marital community. The court of appeal affirmed. In its order, the trial court listed all of the factors under Family Code section 4320 and stated its findings for each. It considered the parties’ employment and earning histories, earning capacities, assets, obligations, and standard of living in Silicon Valley, and the length of the marriage. The court found that Wife’s “efforts [to find a job] were not appropriately and fully focused.” Only after the court imputed income to her did she “resume work ... just slightly above the imputed earnings rate.” The court concluded that she can obtain a higher-paying position with a potential salary commensurate with what she had earned several years earlier. The findings provide sufficient rationale for the amount and duration of the award. View "In re: Marriage of Grimes and Mou" on Justia Law
Kinsella v. Kinsella
The issues presented by this appeal for the Court of Appeal’s review arose in the procedural context of an anti-SLAPP motion brought by Tamara Kinsella, in defendant Kevin Kinsella’s malicious prosecution complaint. Shortly after Tamara initiated dissolution of marriage proceedings against Kevin, Tamara sued Kevin based on what she contended was his promise, prior to their marriage, that the property and income they acquired during their relationship would belong equally to both of them (Marvin Action). After Tamara voluntarily dismissed the Marvin Action, Kevin sued her for malicious prosecution in the present action. Seeking to have Kevin's malicious prosecution complaint stricken as a SLAPP, Tamara responded with an anti-SLAPP motion. In her effort to establish that Kevin could not show she lacked probable cause to prosecute the Marvin Action, Tamara relied on an interim adverse judgment rule: She (1) presented evidence that the trial court in the Marvin Action denied Kevin's motion for summary judgment, and (2) argued that this interim victory on Kevin's summary judgment motion precluded Kevin from establishing that Tamara lacked the requisite probable cause to file and prosecute the Marvin Action. In opposition, Kevin relied on the fraud exception to the interim adverse judgment rule: He argued that, because Tamara defeated Kevin's summary judgment motion in the Marvin Action by having submitted materially false facts on which the court relied in denying the motion, Tamara was not entitled to rely on the interim adverse judgment rule's presumption that resulted from the denial of his summary judgment motion in the Marvin Action. The trial court ruled that the malicious prosecution complaint was a SLAPP and struck it. Kevin appealed, arguing the trial court erred in determining that he did not establish the requisite probability of prevailing on the merits of his claim against Tamara. The Court of Appeal concurred with Kevin’s argument and reversed. View "Kinsella v. Kinsella" on Justia Law
Conservatorship of A.E.
Probate Code section 1825 required that a conservatee consent to the appointment of the proposed conservator or a showing had to be made that she was unable or unwilling to attend the hearing. Mother appealed the trial court's order denying her petition to be appointed conservator of her 26-year-old autistic daughter, A.E., and the trial court's sua sponte order appointing the Ventura County Public Guardian as the permanent limited conservator of A.E.'s person. The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that the trial court failed to make the requisite finding that A.E. did not want to attend the hearing, or could not be produced for the hearing due to medical inability, or that her appearance was likely to cause serious and immediate physiological damage. View "Conservatorship of A.E." on Justia Law
In re Adoption of Luc
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the appeals court affirming the decision and decree of the juvenile court judge terminating Mother's parental rights to Luc, holding that there was sufficient proof to support he judge's decree and decision. On appeal, Mother argued that the judge improperly admitted into evidence a Department of Child and Families social worker's reports and dictation notes, as well as inadmissible hearsay and improper opinion evidence contained therein. Mother also argued that the juvenile court judge's findings of fact were insufficient to establish Mother's unfitness by clear and convincing evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that even without the challenged evidence, there was enough proof supporting the judge's decree and decision terminating Mother's parental rights to Luc. View "In re Adoption of Luc" on Justia Law
Marriage of Deluca
Parties Rosalinda and George Deluca appealed a trial court’s division of martial property and other matters, including spousal support. During the marriage, George's sister transferred to him title to an apartment complex referred to in this case as the "Florida Street property." Rosalinda contended the trial court erred in ruling the Florida Street property was George's separate property rather than community property. George had custody of the parties' two children and contended the court erred by awarding Rosalinda spousal support in an amount greater than his total net income available to support the children. Specifically, he argued the court erred by including the amount of monthly loan principal payments he is required to make on his income-producing properties as income available for spousal support. In the unpublished portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court with respect to Florida Street as George’s separate property, and remanded with directions to determine the amount of reimbursement credit to which George is entitled for Florida Street, as well as to consider George's new contention that he should be awarded a fractional separate property interest in the property. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court also reversed the spousal support award and directed the trial court to reconsider the amount of support after determining the extent to which George's loan principal payments reasonably and legitimately reduced his income for purposes of support. View "Marriage of Deluca" on Justia Law
In Re D.O.
Respondent, the father of the juvenile (Father), appealed a superior court order denying his motion for permission to file a late appeal of an adverse ruling issued by the Circuit Court on an abuse and neglect petition brought by petitioner, the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). The superior court found that Father failed to demonstrate “good cause” for filing a late appeal. After review, the New Hampshire Supreme Court held as a matter of law, that it was “reasonable and just” to grant Father’s motion to file his appeal late. Father filed his partially-assented-to motion to file a late appeal on April 17, 2019, before the parties had ever appeared in the superior court. Father did not file his appeal earlier because his attorney was on maternity leave when the dispositional order was entered, and “[t]here was a misunderstanding between father and [his] counsel’s office regarding the filing of the appeal.” The attorney for the child and the attorney for Mother assented to Father’s motion. According to the superior court, the parties preferred that Father’s and Mother’s cases “be tried together.” Under these circumstances, the Court concluded there was good cause, as a matter of law, to grant Father’s motion to file a late appeal. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "In Re D.O." on Justia Law