Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

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In this appeal from the termination of Father's parental rights consequent to an adoption, the Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the termination, holding that the district court correctly terminated Father's parental rights and that Father's constitutional challenge to Kan. Stat. Ann. 59-2136 was not preserved for review. In his petition for review, Father challenged the factual basis for the termination order and also challenged, for the first time, the constitutionality of Kan. Stat. Ann. 59-2136(h)(1)(D), on which the termination was based. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this Court declines to address the constitutional issue because it was raised neither in the district court nor in the court of appeals; and (2) the court of appeals correctly upheld the district court's finding that Father failed to support the mother during the last six months of her pregnancy without reasonable cause excusing the lack of support. View "In re Adoption of Baby Girl G." on Justia Law

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Petitioner Matthew Kamil (Husband), appealed, and respondent Robin Kamil (Wife) cross-appealed various circuit court orders in their divorce action. The parties were married in September 2007 and had two children. Husband filed for divorce in 2015, and Wife cross-petitioned. Husband was awarded temporary primary residential responsibility for the children and Wife was awarded supervised visitation. The court also appointed a parenting coordinator. By March 31, 2017, “the parenting evidence was that [Wife] was not allowing the therapeutic reunification plan to succeed.” The court nevertheless continued to order supervised visitation for Wife at a visitation center, and, in January 2018, the court “appointed Tracey Tucker to serve in an evaluative, structured, scripted reunification capacity, focusing on the children’s needs to have safe and appropriate contact with their mother.” After only four sessions, Tucker cancelled the reunification work “when [Wife] made some impulsive and inappropriate comments to [her].” At that point, Wife’s supervised contact with the children ended. Meanwhile, the court held a series of hearings to determine the authenticity and enforceability of a prenuptial agreement executed by the parties approximately one month prior to their wedding. The court ultimately found the prenuptial agreement unenforceable. In October 2018, the circuit court issued a final divorce decree. After choosing a February 2015 asset valuation date, the court awarded Husband the marital residence, awarded Wife the entirety of her Roth IRA, and equitably divided the remaining assets between them. To effectuate the equitable division, Husband was ordered to pay Wife $1,011,359.88. After review, the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded Husband failed to meet his appellate burden of demonstrating reversible error with respect to all the issues he raised on appeal. The Court concurred with Wife that with respect to the supervised parenting time visits with Ms. Tucker: while the the trial court had already ordered a plan, it also gave Tucker the sole discretion to determine when and if the parties would resume following that plan. This constituted an improper delegation of judicial authority, and the Supreme Court vacated that portion of the final decree. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "In the Matter of Matthew & Robin Kamil" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court awarding joint legal and physical custody of J.F. to Sara P., Tyler F., and Geoffrey V., holding that the district court committed plain error in considering Geoffrey's paternity complaint while failing to give proper legal effect to Tyler's acknowledgment of paternity. Sara gave birth to J.F. and represented to Tyler that he was J.F.'s father. Tyler signed an acknowledgment of paternity when J.F. was born. Tyler later filed a complaint to establish paternity, custody, and parenting time seeking joint legal and physical custody of J.F. After a DNA test excluded Tyler as the biological father, Geoffrey filed a complaint to establish paternity seeking that physical and legal custody be placed with Sara subject to his and Tyler's visitation rights. After the case was remanded, the district court awarded legal and physical custody of J.F. until the end of that year, at which time all three parties were awarded joint legal and physical custody. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court committed plain error in considering Geoffrey's complaint to establish his paternity of J.F. when Tyler's acknowledgment remained in place and established Tyler as J.F.'s father. View "Tyler F. v. Sara P." on Justia Law

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In this real property dispute, the Supreme Court clarified that its holding in Davidson v. Davidson, 382 P.3d 880 (Nev. 2016), does not apply to claims for enforcement of real property distribution in divorce decrees. The Supreme Court held in Davidson that the six-year statute of limitations in Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.190(1)(a) applies to claims for enforcement of a property distribution provision in a divorce decree. In the instant case, Appellant sought to partition real property that a divorce decree from nine years earlier awarded to Respondent as separate property. Appellant argued that the decree expired pursuant to Davidson, which precluded Respondent from enforcing his distribution rights under the decree and rendered the property still held in joint tenancy subject to partition. The district court granted summary judgment and quieted title in favor of Respondent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 11.190(1)(a) unambiguously excludes from its purview actions for recovery of real property, and therefore, Davidson did not apply; (2) Respondent was not required to renew the divorce decree pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 17.214 to enforce his real property rights; and (3) Appellant's partition claim was barred by claim preclusion. View "Kuptz-Blinkinsop v. Blinkinsop" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that it does not have jurisdiction to review a district court order denying a request for a joint preliminary injunction pursuant to EDCR 5.517 in a family law matter because no court rule or statute permits an appeal of a district court order denying a request for a joint preliminary injunction. After Husband filed for divorce, the clerk of court issued a joint preliminary injunction pursuant to EDCR 5.85 prohibiting the parties from disposing of any property subject to any community interest claim. After the district court issued a divorce decree the Supreme Court remanded the case to conduct proper tracing to determine community interests. On remand, Wife moved for the district court to reaffirm its prior joint preliminary injunction pursuant to EDCR 5.517. The district court issued a preliminary injunction for two assets subject to community property claims but declined to extend the injunction to other assets in a spendthrift trust. Wife appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that joint preliminary injunctions under EDCR 5.517 are not subject to Nev. R. Civ. P. 65, and therefore, orders denying or granting injunctions under EDCR 5.517 are not appealable under Nev. R. App. P. 3A(b)(3). View "Nelson v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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A guardian ad litem (GAL) for two minor children appealed after a magistrate court determined the children should have been placed with their biological father in Mexico. Jane Doe I (Daughter) and John Doe II (Son) were removed from the care of their mother (Mother) along with another half-sibling on after a preliminary investigation revealed the children were homeless and living in a car. At the time Daughter and Son were taken into foster care, the specific whereabouts of their biological father, John Doe (Father), were unknown, other than that he had been deported to Mexico in December 2014. Father had last seen the children at that time. In addition, his paternity had not yet been established and he had not had any contact with his children since his deportation. A little more than a year after the proceedings had begun, Father’s paternity was established. Shortly after the Department filed an amended petition, it sought a case plan for Father. The Department also attempted to obtain a home study for Father but faced difficulty accomplishing this task because he lived in Mexico. The children’s GAL opposed placing the children with Father without more information about him and his living situation. Ultimately, the magistrate court ordered that the children be placed with Father as soon as possible without a home study being conducted, apparently relying on In re Doe, 281 P.3d 95 (2012). On motions to reconsider filed by the Department and the GAL, newly-discovered evidence was presented that Father was a registered sex offender who had previously pleaded guilty to failing to register as such. Nevertheless, the magistrate court denied the motions to reconsider. The GAL appealed. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the magistrate court, holding that while it continued "to recognize that the biological parent’s presumption of fitness is and should be very strong. However, it is not irrefutable. . . . Where the legislature has unequivocally placed a duty on the court and the Department to consider its primary concern 'the health and safety of the child,' it is incumbent on a court to ensure that diligent investigation occurs regarding questions pertaining to children’s safety." View "IDHW & John Doe v. GAL & 4th Judicial District Casa" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the family court denying Appellant's petition for a writ of prohibition to stay a child custody order entered by the circuit court pending her appeal, holding that the court of appeals correctly held that the extraordinary relief of a writ of prohibition was not warranted. The trial court ordered that Appellant's two minor children relocate from their residence with Appellant in Mississippi to live with their father in Kentucky. In her petition for writ of prohibition, Appellant argued, among other things, that the trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to enter the relocation order. The court of appeals denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant was not entitled to a first-class writ because the trial court acted within its jurisdiction; and (2) Appellant was not entitled to a second-class writ because Appellant had an opportunity for recourse through her direct appeal. View "Lawson v. Woeste" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over a modification of the parenting schedule for two minor children the Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' decision finding that the family court's admission and reliance upon certain statements by the court-appointed Friend-of-Court investigator (FOC) was harmless error, holding that the family court did not commit prejudicial error in admitting and considering the FOC's statements. Father filed a motion for modification of the parenting schedule requesting that he become the primary residential custodian of the parties' two children. At a bench trial, the FOC testified as to her observations and findings from her previous investigation and report. The family court ordered that the children remain living with Mother. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) hearsay statements contained within an FOC's investigative report that do not fall within a recognized hearsay exception are nonetheless admissible as evidence in a domestic custody proceeding where the notice and procedural requirements comply with Ky. Rev. Stat. 403.300(3); and (2) a family court's appointment of an FOC to investigate and generate a report under section 403.300 amounts to a determination that the FOC is sufficiently qualified to offer opinion evidence concerning the fitness of a parent and child's custody arrangements. View "Greene v. Boyd" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing Father's paternity action on the grounds that Minn. Stat. 259.25, subd. 8 barred the action, holding that the statute did not bar Father's action. Father failed to register with the Minnesota Fathers' Adoption Registry within thirty days of the birth of his child. Father subsequently filed this paternity action seeking to be adjudicated as his child's father. The district court dismissed the action, concluding that because Father had failed timely to register with the Fathers' Adoption Registry he was barred under Minn. Stat. 259.52, subd. 8 from bringing or maintaining a paternity action. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Minn. Stat. 259.52, subd. 8 did not apply to Father under the circumstances of this case. View "T. G. G. v. H. E. S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the juvenile court granting the State's complaint seeking to disestablish the paternity of Aaron S. to a child born during his marriage to the child's mother and to establish paternity in another man, holding that the State was not statutorily authorized to bring the action. After genetic testing showed that Ian K. was the child's biological father the State filed a complaint seeking to establish Ian's paternity. A trial was held, and at the conclusion of the evidence the State asked the court to disestablish Aaron, the husband of the child's mother, as the child's legal father and to establish Ian as the child's father so he could effectively relinquish his rights. The juvenile court entered an order which purported to disestablish Aaron as the child's biological father and to establish Ian's as the child's father. The Supreme Court vacated the order, holding that because the child was not born out of wedlock and was the legitimate child of Aaron, the State lacked statutory authority to bring this paternity action under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1411. View "State ex rel. Miah S. v. Ian K." on Justia Law