Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the circuit court denying Father's request to terminate the guardianship of Respondents, holding that the circuit court erred by requiring Father to demonstrate a material change of circumstances in order to terminate the existing guardianship. As a result of Mother's incarceration, Guardians, who were Mother's parents, filed a petition to be appointed guardians of the child in this case. The circuit court granted the guardianship. Father subsequently filed a motion to terminate Guardians' guardianship, asserting that a change of circumstances had occurred because Father had shown that he was a fit parent and could provide the proper care and stability for the child. The circuit court denied Father's petition on grounds that Father had not demonstrated a material change of circumstances. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) because the circuit court's guardianship order did not sufficiently address the statutory factors required for the appointment of a guardian, the order must be treated as one establishing a temporary guardianship; and (2) the court applied the wrong burden of proof to Father's request to terminate the guardianship. View "Terrence E. v. Christopher R." on Justia Law

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Samantha Schweitzer appealed a district court order dismissing her petition for a child custody order. Schweitzer and Blake Miller have one child together, born in Wisconsin in 2014. Schweitzer had primary custody of the child after the child’s birth. On January 6, 2017, Schweitzer and the child moved from Wisconsin to North Dakota. On January 13, 2017, Miller petitioned in Wisconsin for joint custody and parenting time. After an August 2018 hearing, the parties stipulated they would have joint custody of the child and Schweitzer would move to Madison, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin court entered an order on the basis of the parties’ stipulation. In January 2019, Schweitzer petitioned for an emergency child custody order and initial child custody determination or modification of child custody determination in North Dakota. Miller moved to dismiss the petition, arguing the district court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to decide Schweitzer’s petition. Miller claimed the Wisconsin court had jurisdiction to decide custody issues relating to the child. The North Dakota district court determined it lacked jurisdiction to decide Schweitzer's petition, and the North Dakota Supreme Court concurred with that judgment. View "Schweitzer v. Miller" on Justia Law

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Wendy Willprecht appealed and Kevin Willprecht cross-appealed a judgment granting the parties a divorce, distributing the marital estate, awarding primary residential responsibility for the parties’ children, and ordering child support. After review of the trial court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court’s property distribution was not clearly erroneous, but the court erred in calculating Kevin's child support obligation. View "Willprecht v. Willprecht" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff alleged that defendants interfered with her relationship with her mother, Lucy, by unduly influencing Lucy and distorting her understanding and perception of plaintiff such that Lucy would fully reject and exclude plaintiff from her life. Plaintiff further alleged that she suffered emotional harm from the deprivation of the society, care, and affection of her mother. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court that plaintiff's allegations failed to state a cause of action for intentional interference with parental consortium. The court explained that the Legislature amended the Civil Code to omit a cause of action for parental abduction, including by persuasion or enticement, and to bar claims for alienation of affection. In line with case precedent, the Legislature thereby removed from California law the right of action asserted by plaintiff. In this case, it was immaterial that plaintiff asserted her claims under multiple theories, including intentional infliction of emotional distress, loss of parental consortium, elder abuse of plaintiff, and false light invasion of privacy, because all were based on allegations that defendants turned Lucy against plaintiff, and all harms flowed from Lucy's severing ties with plaintiff. Finally, the court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying a continuance. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Tarin v. Lind" on Justia Law

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A mother appealed a superior court’s child support order that was based on imputed income, arguing that the court’s finding of her imputed gross income was based on faulty weekly hour and hourly rate determinations. After review, the Alaska Supreme Court concluded that by going well beyond the mother’s previous weekly hours and hourly rate without any evidence or findings about commensurate job opportunities and the mother’s abilities and qualifications for those opportunities, the trial court failed to follow established Alaska case law. It therefore vacated the child support order and remanded for further proceedings. View "Vogus v. Vogus" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Father's parental rights to his child, holding that the trial court did not err in its determination. Mother filed a petition to terminate Father's parental rights on the grounds that the child was born out of wedlock, Father failed to provide substantial financial support or consistent care with respect to Mother and the child, and that Father had willfully abandoned the child. The trial court concluded that grounds existed to terminate Father's parental rights based on willful abandonment and that termination of Father's parental rights was in the child's best interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court properly appointed a guardian ad litem for the child; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by concluding that it would be in the child's best interests to terminate Father's parental rights. View "In re C.J.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court terminating Father's parental rights to his child, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that grounds existed to terminate Father's parental rights. The Pitt County Department of Social Services filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Father, alleging four grounds to terminate his parental rights. The district court entered an order concluding that grounds existed to terminate Father's parental rights based on all of the grounds alleged in the petition. The district court further concluded that termination of Father's parental rights was in the child's best interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by concluding that grounds existed to terminate Father's parental rights. View "In re N.P." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Father's parental rights in his minor child, holding that the trial court did not err by concluding that Father's parental rights were subject to termination on the grounds of neglect pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1). Youth and Family Services filed a motion seeking to have Father's parental rights to his child terminated on the grounds of neglect and willfully leaving her in foster care or a placement outside the home for more than twelve months without making reasonable progress toward correcting the conditions that led to her removal from the home. The trial court terminated Father's parental rights on both of the grounds alleged in the termination motion and concluded that termination of Father's parental rights would be in the child's best interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err by concluding that his parental rights to the child were subject to termination on the grounds of neglect. View "In re S.D." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Father's parental rights to his child, holding that the trial court appropriately found grounds to terminate Father's parental rights under N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(7). Mother filed a petition to terminate Father's parental rights on the basis of willful abandonment and Father's failure to pay child support. The trial court entered an order determining that grounds existed to terminate Father's parental rights on the basis of willful abandonment and concluding that it was in the child's best interest that Father's parental rights be terminated. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err by denying Father's motion to dismiss the petition and by terminating his parental rights on the basis of willful abandonment. View "In re B.C.B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court granting the petition filed by Mother for the termination of Father's parental rights, holding that the trial court appropriately found grounds to terminate Father's parental rights under N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(7). After a hearing, the trial court entered an order terminating Father's parental rights, concluding that Father had willfully abandoned the child within the meaning of N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(7) and such abandonment justified termination and that it was in the child's best interest to terminate Father's parental rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court's findings supported its adjudication under section 7B-1111(a)(7); and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the child's best interest would be served by the termination of Father's parental rights. View "In re K.N.K." on Justia Law