Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from an order setting aside a default order modifying child support and setting the matter for a status hearing, holding that the order was not a final order.Sybil Porter filed a complaint for modification of a divorce decree awarding her custody of the parties' two children and ordering Dustin Porter to pay child support, alleging that there had been a substantial and material change of circumstances necessitating a modification due to a change of income. The court entered an order of modification after a hearing at which Dustin did not appear. The court subsequently vacated its order and set a status hearing. Sybil appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that because the default order modifying child support and setting the matter for a status hearing did not affect a substantial right of the parties it was not a final order. View "Porter v. Porter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dissolving the marriage of Daniel Cornwell and Melanie Cornwell, holding that the district court did not err in using the immediate offset method of valuation to value the martial portion of Daniel's pension.Both parties appealed in this case. Daniel argued that the district court erred in using the immediate offset method to value his pension. On cross-appeal, Melanie argued that the district court erred in not awarding her attorney fees and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion by using the immediate offset method of valuation and to accordingly value and divide the estate; and (2) did not err in not awarding Melanie attorney fees and costs. View "Cornwell v. Cornwell" on Justia Law

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M.V. (Mother) appealed juvenile court’s orders sustaining jurisdiction and removing her three children. She contended insufficient evidence supported dependency jurisdiction. Mother also argued the court’s dispositional order was not supported by clear and convincing evidence. After review, the Court of Appeal agreed with Mother, reversed the court's order and remanded for further proceedings. View "In re Ma.V." on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Oregon Supreme Court’s review centered on the nature and scope of the “exclusive original jurisdiction” that ORS 419B.100(1) conferred on the juvenile courts over specified categories of “case[s] involving a person who is under 18 years of age.” The question arose from petitioner’s challenge to a juvenile court judgment that deprived her of legal-parent status as to S, a child over whom petitioner had claimed a right to custody. According to petitioner, the court’s judgment of “nonparentage” was void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the juvenile court did not determine that S actually fell within one of the categories specified in ORS 419B.100(1). The Court of Appeals rejected petitioner’s challenge to the judgment, and the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals. Here, it was undisputed that this case involved a child who was the subject of a petition alleging that she fell within one of those categories and requesting that the juvenile court exercise its authority to address those allegations. And it was undisputed that proceedings to address the petition were pending when the juvenile court ruled on petitioner’s parentage status. The Supreme Court concluded the allegations and relief sought in the pending petition were sufficient to bring the case within the subject matter jurisdiction of the juvenile court. View "Dept. of Human Services v. C. M. H." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated in part the judgment of the district court denying Mother's motion to modify the parties' parental rights and responsibilities as to the parties' two children, holding that the matter must be remanded for further findings.Mother and Father were divorced in New Hampshire. Later, the Maine District Court granted Father's request for registration of the child custody and support provisions of the parties' New Hampshire divorce judgment. Mother subsequently filed a motion to modify, seeking sole parental rights and responsibilities. The court denied the motion. Father subsequently filed a motion to modify parental rights and responsibilities. The parties agreed to a stipulated judgment, which the court entered. The court then denied Father's motion for attorney fees. Father appealed, asserting that the court abused its discretion in denying Mothers motion without an explanation. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the portion of the judgment denying Father's motions for attorney fees and for further findings of fact and remanded for reconsideration of Father's motion for attorney fees, holding that it was unclear whether the court found facts sufficient to support its ultimate determination. View "Atkinson v. Capoldo" on Justia Law

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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