by
James Black appealed an order of the district court denying Dorothy Black’s motion for contempt but nonetheless ordering James to pay Dorothy a sum that the court determined he owed her pursuant to the parties’ divorce judgment. Specifically, James argued that the court lacked authority to grant Dorothy any form of relief upon denying her motion for contempt, which was not accompanied by a motion to enforce. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that, under the unique circumstances of this case, the court acted within its authority by issuing an order requiring James to pay Dorothy the arrearage owed to her and that James was not unfairly prejudiced as a result. View "Black v. Black" on Justia Law

by
Wife Tracy Hardin was granted a discretionary appeal of the grant of partial summary judgment to Husband John Hardin in this divorce case. The issue on appeal was whether the trial court erred in concluding as a matter of law that certain disability benefits issued pursuant to an insurance policy are non-marital property and are not subject to equitable division. Finding that it did not, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "Hardin v. Hardin" on Justia Law

by
A.J. and R.G. were the parents of three children, then-aged ten, nine and seven years old. In November 2011, A.J. was arrested and deported to Mexico after he assaulted R.G. R.G. obtained an order prohibiting A.J. from having contact with her and the children. After A.J. was deported, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (Agency) investigated 13 child protective services referrals on behalf of the children. The referrals were largely related to R.G.'s alcohol use and failure to supervise the children. In February 2013, October 2013, and February 2014, the Agency substantiated allegations that R.G. was neglecting the children. In October 2015, the Agency detained the children in protective custody and initiated dependency proceedings after an "extremely intoxicated" R.G. was arrested and jailed on charges of grand theft. A.J. appealed after a 12-month review hearing at which the juvenile court returned his children to their mother's care. He contended the court erred when it found that he had been offered or provided reasonable services. The Court of Appeal agreed and reversed the reasonable services finding as to A.J. In all other respects, the findings and orders were affirmed. View "In re A.G." on Justia Law

by
Caitlyn E., a Yupik woman, was the mother of Maggie and Bridget, ages nine and six at trial, who are Indian children within the meaning of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) based on their affiliation with the Orutsararmiut Native Council (the Tribe). Caitlyn struggled with abuse of both legal and illegal drugs since a young age. Maggie tested positive for cocaine and marijuana when she was born. The Office of Children’s Services (OCS) received other reports of harm; at a doctor’s visit when the girls were toddlers, they reportedly had multiple impetigo sores on their bodies and had to be cleaned by the doctor, and Caitlyn smelled like marijuana. Caitlyn was also reported to have been violent toward both her daughters, kicking Maggie and giving her a bloody nose, and, while drunk, swinging Bridget around “like a rag doll.” The superior court terminated a Caitlyn's parental rights to the two girls. She appealed, contesting the qualification of the ICWA-required expert witness and the finding that OCS made active efforts to prevent the breakup of the Indian family. Because the superior court’s decision to qualify the expert witness was not an abuse of discretion, and because the superior court’s active efforts finding was not erroneous, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the termination of the mother’s parental rights. View "Caitlyn E. v. Alaska Dept. of Health & Social Svcs." on Justia Law

by
In 2014, the Mississippi Supreme Court issued its opinion in Gutierrez v. Gutierrez, 153 So.3d 703 (2014), affirming the chancellor’s judgment in part and reversing it in part, remanding the case for the resolution of three overarching issues. Clayton Gutierrez appealed the chancellor’s decisions concerning the issues on remand, outlined in the chancery court’s September 22, 2015, December 29, 2015, and February 26, 2016, orders. In all, Clayton raised five alleged errors. Finding that the court neither abused its discretion nor erred in its decision, the Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor’s judgments on the matter. View "Gutierrez v. Gutierrez" on Justia Law

by
This contempt proceeding arose from the failure of Petitioner, the birth father’s counsel in a youth in need of care proceeding, to appear at a termination of parental rights hearing before the Honorable Gregory G. Pinski. After Judge Pinski issued the order of contempt, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of review, arguing that the contempt hearing was criminal in nature and that she was not afforded due process. The Supreme Court denied Petitioner’s petition for a writ of review, holding (1) the district court had jurisdiction of these contempt proceedings pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. 3-1-511; and (2) substantial evidence supported the order of contempt. View "Cross Guns v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

by
In an appeal from a divorce action Wife argued that the circuit court abused its discretion with regard to a permanent spousal support award of $4,000 per month and challenged the circuit court’s equitable distribution findings, specifically, classification of certain retirement accounts of Husband as premarital and classification of certain expenditures Husband made as marital expenses. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the circuit court’s order with regard to the equitable distribution findings with the exception of the finding on Husband’s premarital portion of his retirement account, holding the evidence showed $249,685 of that account was premarital; and (2) reversed the award of spousal support, holding that Wife was “harshly short-changed, considering the great disparity of the parties’ income.” View "Mulugeta v. Misailidis" on Justia Law

by
Family Code section 271 does not authorize the court to award sanctions to non-parties, but rather is intended to promote settlement of family law litigation through shifting fees between the parties to the litigation. In this case, the Court of Appeal agreed that the trial court was without authority to award sanctions to respondents because they were not parties to this action. The court reasoned that sanctions may not be awarded under section 271 to a party's attorney when it was that attorney who was requesting the sanctions for the sole benefit of the attorney. Accordingly, the court reversed the order for sanctions. View "Webb v. Webb" on Justia Law

by
25 U.S.C. 1911(b) of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) addresses transfer only of foster care replacement and termination-of-parental-rights actions and does not apply to state preadoptive and adoptive placements. The Department of Child Safety moved to terminate the parental rights of the parents of A.D., a member of the Gila River Indian Community. After the juvenile court terminated the rights of A.D.’s parents the foster parents intervened and filed a petition to adopt A.D. The Community moved to transfer the proceedings to its tribal court under section 1911(b). The juvenile court denied the motion, finding that the foster parents had met their burden of showing that good cause existed under section 1911(b) to deny the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed the juvenile court’s denial of the Community’s motion to transfer, holding that ICWA does not govern the transfer of preadoptive and adoptive placement actions, but state courts may nonetheless transfer such cases involving Indian children to tribal courts. View "Gila River Indian Community v. Department of Child Safety" on Justia Law

by
When a child is born alive, the presence of illegal drugs in the child’s system at birth constitutes sufficient evidence that the child is an abused and/or neglected child, as those terms are defined by W. Va. Code 49-1-201, to support the filing of an abuse and neglect petition pursuant to W. Va. Code 49-4-601 The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources filed an abuse and neglect petition against Father alleging that Child was an abused and/or neglected child. The allegations of Father’s misconduct included his failure to protect Child from Mother’s drug use - both prenatal and ongoing after Child’s birth - and his continuing association with Mother. Father filed a motion to dismiss the petition claiming that because an abuse and neglect proceeding could not be brought to protect a child who has not yet been born, a parent could not be charged with injuries in utero. The circuit court agreed to certify a question to the Supreme Court insofar as it was deemed to be determinative of Father’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court answered the question as reformulated. View "In re A.L.C.M." on Justia Law