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Bruce and Bridget married in 1993. Their only child, Sierra, was born in 1995. In 2003, Bruce signed up for a life insurance plan sponsored by his employer and governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Bruce listed his uncle as the sole beneficiary. Bruce and Bridget divorced in 2006. Bruce died in 2013, insured for $48,000 in basic life insurance and $191,000 in optional life insurance. In their 2006 divorce decree, Bruce and Bridget agreed to maintain any employer-related life insurance policies for the benefit of Sierra until she turned 18 or graduated from high school. Bruce had not changed his beneficiary. The district court ordered payment to Sierra. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The divorce decree suffices as a qualified domestic relations order that, incorporating the Jacksons’ separation agreement and their shared parenting plan, “clearly specifies” Sierra as the beneficiary under 29 U.S.C. 1056(d)(3)(C). Her parents’ (alleged) non-compliance with the decree does not limit Sierra’s rights under ERISA. View "Sun Life Assurance Co. v. Jackson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Parents’ parental rights to their child pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i),(ii) and, with respect to Father, section 4055(1)(B)(2)(b)(iv). The court held (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the court’s findings of unfitness; (2) Father was not deprived of due process when the court denied his motion to continue a hearing on the ground that he was experiencing withdrawal from Suboxone; and (3) the court did not err in admitting evidence of Mother’s drug test results. View "In re Arturo G." on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court’s review centered on whether a juvenile court validly terminated a mother’s parent-child legal relationship without first entering a formal written order adjudicating her children as dependent or neglected. The juvenile court accepted the mother’s admission that her children were neglected or dependent, but did not enter a formal order before it terminated the mother’s parental rights approximately a year later. The court of appeals held that the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction to terminate the mother’s parental rights because it had not entered the order. The Supreme Court disagreed with the court of appeals that the trial court’s failure to enter an order adjudicating the children’s status as neglected or dependent divested the trial court of jurisdiction. Because the trial court accepted the parents’ admission, the Supreme Court concluded the purpose of the adjudicative process was met and the children’s status as neglected or dependent was established, thus permitting state intervention into the familial relationship. Moreover, both the Department and the mother proceeded as if the court had adjudicated the status of the children: the mother participated in subsequent hearings and attempted to comply with the trial court’s treatment plan; she never sought to withdraw her admission; and she never challenged the trial court’s jurisdiction or otherwise objected below to the trial court’s verbal or written termination orders finding that the children had been adjudicated neglected or dependent. Under these circumstances, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court’s failure to enter an adjudicative order confirming the children’s status as neglected or dependent did not impair the fundamental fairness of the proceedings or deprive the mother of due process. View "Colorado in Interest of J.W." on Justia Law

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Wife and Husband were divorced in 1995; the final decree of divorce incorporated a settlement agreement that provided for child support and at least half of his Armed Services retirement pay monthly. The child support obligation terminated in 2006, and his first payment of retirement benefits was due to Wife the following month. Husband, however, never paid. Although Wife employed attorneys to demand payment from Husband, Wife took no court action until February 25, 2016, when she filed a motion for contempt. The trial court held that the first payment of retirement benefits became due on July 1, 2006, and the judgment went dormant on July 1, 2013. Although filing a scire facias within three years of dormancy would have revived the judgment if it were dormant, Wife made no such filing. Therefore, the trial court held: that although Husband “clearly and knowingly failed to uphold his obligations under the decree,” it could not hold him in contempt. The Georgia Supreme Court determined the trial court erred in its analysis: Wife’s first viable opportunity to enforce the judgment occurred in July of 2006, when the initial payment became due. The dormancy period did not begin to run until each installment is due. Here, installments that became due within seven years preceding the issuance and recording of the execution are collectible and enforceable. Installments that were dormant remain subject to revival pursuant to OCGA 9-12-61. View "Holmes-Bracy v. Bracy" on Justia Law

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R.W.D. appealed a juvenile court order terminating his parental rights to his two children, K.S.D. and J.S.D. After a review of the juvenile court record, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded clear and convincing evidence established that the children were deprived, the deprivation was likely to continue, and the children had been in foster care at least 450 of 660 nights. The Court also concluded active efforts to prevent the breakup of this Indian family were made and those efforts have been unsuccessful. However, the Court found nothing in the record to satisfy the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”) requirement of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, including testimony of a qualified expert witness, that continued custody by the parents would likely result in serious emotional or physical damage to the children. Accordingly, though the Court retained jurisdiction over this case, it remanded for testimony from an ICWA qualified expert witness. View "Interest of K.S.D." on Justia Law

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Jane Doe and John Doe (2017-19) (“Mother,” “Father,” and collectively, “Parents”) appealed a magistrate court’s Final Judgment terminating their parental rights to Jane Doe II (“Child”). Jane Doe I and John Doe I (“Grandmother,” “Grandfather”) initiated the underlying action by filing a Petition for Termination of Parental Rights and a Petition for Adoption. The magistrate court issued a Final Judgment terminating Parents’ parental rights after concluding that Parents had abandoned Child and that the termination of Parents’ parental rights was in Child’s best interest. On appeal, Parents challenged the magistrate court’s conclusion that Child was abandoned and that termination of parental rights was in Child’s best interest. Finding no abuse of discretion or other reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the termination. View "John & Jane Doe (2017-19) v. John & Jane Doe I" on Justia Law

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Fred Kamgar appealed a judgment ordering him to pay his wife Moira Kamgar $1,952,056.50 for breach of his spousal fiduciary duties in failing to disclose to her that he engaged in options trading, and traded an additional $8 million more than the $2.5 million in community assets she agreed he could trade in their investment account. The trial court determined Fred’s undisclosed and reckless trading resulted in a loss of almost $4 million, in addition to losing the initial $2.5 million. Fred contended the evidence did not support the conclusion he violated his fiduciary duties. Moira contended she was entitled to more than the $1.9 million award she received as her community interest in the $4 million loss. Finding the law and the evidence amply supported the trial court’s award, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "In re Marriage of Kamgar" on Justia Law

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Paternal grandparents sought a court order for visitation with their grandson. The superior court denied their request because they did not allege that the child suffered any detriment from a lack of court-ordered visitation. Finding no reversible error in that denial, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed: “[t]he balance of interests that due process requires was resolved in favor of the parents, and the result is the ‘showing of detriment’ test which the grandparents here have failed to even argue they could satisfy.” View "Jordan v. Watson" on Justia Law

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In consolidated appeals, petitioner Emily Sanborn, and respondent Timothy Sanborn, appealed circuit court orders that ruled on Timothy’s post-divorce motions. Emily argued the trial court erred by ordering that respondent was entitled to continuation coverage under her dental insurance plan pursuant to RSA 415:18, XVI (2015). Timothy cross-appealed, arguing that the court erred by denying his request for attorney’s fees. Emily argued that because Timothy received dental coverage pursuant to a 2013 amendment to the divorce decree retroactive from April 2011 to April 2014, he received all of the coverage that he was entitled to under the statute. The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with this contention and reversed the circuit court as to this point. The Supreme Court affirmed with respect to denial of attorney fees. View "In the Matter of Emily Sanborn and Timothy E. Sanborn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed, as modified by this opinion, the order of the district court dissolving Brian Osantowski’s marriage to Dori Ann Osantowski, dividing the martial assets and debts, and ordering Brian to make an equalization payment of $680,000, distributing the estate about equally. The Supreme Court held (1) contrary to Brian’s argument on appeal, the district court’s decision that stored and growing crops should not be treated the same as cattle herds for tracing purposes was not in error; but (2) the district court committed an abuse of discretion and plain error in its division of certain marital assets and debts. View "Osantowski v. Osantowski" on Justia Law