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The Supreme Court affirmed the final parenting plan ordered by the district court, holding that substantial evidence supported the district court’s decision and that Appellant failed to demonstrate reversible error. The final parenting plan in this case provided that the parties’ child would reside with Appellee and that Appellant had visitation on alternating weekends. On appeal, Appellant claimed, among other things, that many of the district court’s findings of fact were clearly erroneous and that the court’s parenting decision was not based on the best interest of the child. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) in choosing where the child would primarily reside, the court properly considered and weighed the statutory factors; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in developing a final parenting plan for the child; and (3) Appellant received effective assistance of counsel. View "In re Marriage of Kesler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court modifying the property settlement agreement entered into by Dennis Simpson and Larissa Simpson and the subsequent order awarding attorney fees, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. The district court here modified the agreement by terminating maintenance payments to Larissa. The court then limited the amount of Larissa’s attorney fees to those incurred during contempt proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion in concluding that continued imposition and enforcement of the parties’ agreement was unconscionable; (2) appropriately modified the agreement based on the parties’ unique circumstances; and (3) did not abuse its discretion in limiting Larissa’s attorney fees. View "In re Marriage of Simpson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Father’s petition to modify the order granting Mother primary custody of the parties' children, holding that the district court abused its discretion by determining that Father had demonstrated a material change in circumstances to justify re-opening the governing custody and visitation order. The district court concluded that Father had not established a material change in circumstances because there was little to no evidence that the children’s welfare was affected by Mother’s alleged instability in her life and poor decision-making. The Supreme Court remanded this case to the district court to determine whether modification of the custody and visitation order was in the best interests of the parties’ two daughters, holding (1) a court need not wait until the children exhibit negative consequences before reconsidering custody and/or visitation; and (2) where there was significant evidence of Mother’s continued instability and poor decision-making and the parties’ inability to make the current custody/visitation arrangement work, there was a material change of circumstances. View "Jacobson v. Kidd" on Justia Law

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A husband appealed a final divorce order, challenging the trial court’s property division, and claimed the court erred in awarding him an amount of spousal maintenance outside the statutory guideline without stating a reason for diverging from the guideline. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Jaro v. Jaro" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe (2018-24) (“Mother”) appealed a magistrate court’s decision to terminate her parental rights over her daughter (“K.O.”) on grounds of neglect after finding it was in K.O.’s best interest. On appeal Mother contested the magistrate court’s findings that: (1) early permanency for K.O. was appropriate and a continuance of trial was not warranted; and (2) that mother neglected K.O. and it was in the best interest of K.O. to terminate Mother’s rights. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court found the magistrate court did not abuse its discretion in failing to continue the trial. Additionally, substantial and competent evidence, to a clear and convincing standard, supported the magistrate court’s decision that Mother neglected K.O. and it was in K.O.’s best interest to terminate Mother’s parental rights. View "IDHW v. Jane Doe (2018-24)" on Justia Law

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In this termination of parental rights case, the Supreme Court held that juvenile courts must consider the totality of the circumstances existing at the time of a parental severance determination, including the child’s adoptability and the parent’s rehabilitation, in determining whether severance is in the best interests of the child for purposes of Ariz. Rev. Stat. 8-533(B). The juvenile court in this case severed Mother’s parental rights to her two children. Mother appealed, challenging the juvenile court’s best-interests finding. The court of appeals vacated the juvenile court’s order, concluding that the record supporting the best-interests determination was insubstantial. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals’ opinion and affirmed the juvenile court’s judgment terminating Mother’s parental rights, holding that the court of appeals erred in its best-interests analysis and that sufficient evidence supported the juvenile court’s best-interests finding. View "Alma S. v. Department of Child Safety" on Justia Law

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Bertha and Adolph Hall divorced in 2015 and disputed whether certain pieces of real property in Louisiana and Mississippi were separate or marital. The superior court relied on provisions in a document titled a last will and testament for its finding that the parties intended that the Louisiana properties be the husband’s separate property and that the Mississippi properties be the wife’s separate property. The Alaska Supreme Court concluded the court erred in its transmutation analysis. The court also erred in not providing support for its finding regarding the ownership of one of the Louisiana properties and in not addressing the question of the purported conveyance of properties by the husband to his children before the parties’ separation. The Court therefore reversed the superior court’s property distribution decision and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hall v. Hall" on Justia Law

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Forest Button and Shelley Fredrickson never married, but they had one child together. Button and Fredrickson separated in September 2006. From September 2006 until January 2013 neither sought a formal custody order or a child support order. Instead, they had an informal arrangement to share their son’s expenses. Button filed a complaint for custody in January 2013. The parties participated in a settlement conference and entered into an agreement resolving all custody issues, but the parties reserved issues of prospective and retrospective child support for later resolution by the court. When the trial court did make its support orders, Frederickson appealed. The Alaska Supreme Court determined the trial court erred in determining the sources of Frederickson's income and whether it could be considered for purposes for calculating a retrospective child support award, but did not err in imputing income to Frederickson but not to Button. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Fredrickson v. Button" on Justia Law

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In 2017, the Public Guardian sought to establish a conservatorship of the person for Minor, age 16, who was admitted to John Muir Behavioral Health Center. Minor had been placed in the care of Alameda County’s Child Protective Services (CPS) over a year earlier and suffered multiple involuntary hospitalizations. She presented at John Muir “with suicidal ideation and poor impulse control.” The court appointed the Public Guardian as Minor’s temporary conservator. Trial testimony indicated that Minor suffered from PTSD, heard voices telling her she had no reason to live, had threatened to smother her roommate, engaged in “superficial self-injury,” and missed a lot of school. The court of appeal affirmed the order appointing the Public Guardian as the conservator of her person under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, Welf. & Inst. Code, 5000, rejecting arguments that the conservatorship investigator failed to conduct an investigation of all available alternatives to conservatorship; that the Public Guardian failed to prove she was gravely disabled; and that there was insufficient evidence to support her placement. There was sufficient evidence to support a finding of “grave disability” and that the placement was not more restrictive than necessary. View "Conservatorship of M.B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law setting forth the court’s parenting plan, which provided for the parties’ children to reside on a primary basis in Columbus, Montana, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. The Supreme Court affirmed and declined to award attorney fees, holding (1) the district court’s findings were sufficiently pertinent to the issues, comprehensively set forth the basis for the court’s decision, were supported by the evidence, and were not clearly erroneous; (2) the court’s conclusions of law were correct; and (3) the court employed conscientious judgment in reaching its decision. View "In re Marriage of Williams" on Justia Law