by
In an issue of first impression, the Court of Appeals addressed whether Family Code section 4504(b) required derivative benefits received by the child of a disabled parent to be credited against a noncustodial obligor's child support. In this case, the Social Security Administration (SSA) took six years to approve Father's application. In 2015, it made a lump-sum payment for past-due derivative benefits to custodial parent Y.H. (Mother), as Daughter's representative payee. In the intervening six years, Father had continued to pay child support and was not in arrears. The Court of Appeals held section 4504 (b) indeed permitted retroactive child support credit from Daughter's lump-sum payment where there was no child support arrearage. View "Y.H. v. M.H." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that Plaintiff was abused by Defendant and granting a two-year extension of a protection from abuse order to Plaintiff. The Court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding abuse and extending the original protection from abuse order; (2) the trial court gave Defendant sufficient notice of the issues to be addressed in the hearing on the extension of the original order; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to justify extension of the protection from abuse order for two years, with the addition of prohibitions that by federal law had the effect of prohibiting Defendant from possessing firearms that included an express directive prohibiting his possession of firearms. View "Doe v. Tierney" on Justia Law

by
When assessing whether exceptional circumstances exist that make continuing the parental relationship detrimental to a child’s best interests, a juvenile court errs by considering custody-specific factors used to determine exceptional circumstances in third-party custody disputes. The Baltimore City Department of Social Services filed a petition for guardianship with the right to consent to adoption or long term care short adoption for Child. The juvenile court analyzed, among other things, the statutory factors set forth in Md. Code Ann. Fam. Law 5-323(d) to determine whether exceptional circumstances existed that made continuing the parental relationship detrimental to Chile’s best interests. The juvenile court concluded that there was not clear and convincing evidence that Father was unfit. The Court of Special Appeals vacated the juvenile court’s decision, concluding that the juvenile court by using four factors related exclusively to custody of the child in deciding to terminate Father’s parental rights. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) factors pertaining exclusively to custody have no place in termination of parental rights assessments under section 5-323; but (2) the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion when, based on an appropriate statutory analysis, it terminated Father’s parental rights. View "In re Adoption/Guardianship of H.W." on Justia Law

by
Husband John Warren appealed the trial court’s denial of his and wife Sandra Penland's (Warren) joint motion to modify their final divorce order. The issue in this case was whether the trial court had jurisdiction under Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) to modify a property-division order based on the agreement of the parties after the divorce order has become absolute. The Vermont Supreme Court held the court did have jurisdiction, and accordingly reversed and remanded. View "Penland (Warren) v. Warren" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding jeopardy as to two of Mother’s children pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4035 and ordering the Department of Health and Human Services to cease reunification efforts pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4041(2)(A-2). The Court held (1) the district court did not err when it concluded that the doctrine of res judicata did not bind the Department to orders issued by the probate court concluding that the children were not in jeopardy; (2) Mother’s due process rights were not violated in this case; and (3) the district court’s findings were supported by competent evidence in the record that could rationally be understood to establish as more likely than not that the children were in circumstances of jeopardy to their health and welfare. View "In re Children of Bethmarie R." on Justia Law

by
Daniel Peltier appealed an order denying his motion for relief from a child support judgment. Peltier argued the district court erred in denying his motion because the Turtle Mountain Tribal Court had exclusive subject matter jurisdiction to decide his child support obligation. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the state district court had concurrent jurisdiction to decide Peltier's child support obligation, and the district court did not err in denying his motion for relief from the judgment. View "North Dakota v. Peltier" on Justia Law

by
J.G., the mother of minor child J.J.T, appealed a judgment terminating her parental rights to the child. J.G. argued the juvenile court erred: (1) in finding J.J.T. was deprived; (2) in denying her court-appointed counsel's motion for a continuance to prepare for trial; (3) in granting her court-appointed counsel's motion to withdraw as counsel of record and appointing that counsel as standby counsel; and (4) in denying her statutory right to counsel. Because the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in denying a continuance and in allowing withdrawal of counsel, J.G.'s actions were the functional equivalent of a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent waiver of her right to counsel, and the statutory requirements for termination of J.G.'s parental rights were satisfied. Therefore, the Court affirmed the judgment. View "Interest of J.J.T." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court holding Appellant in contempt for failing to comply with the parties’ divorce decree. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court (1) violated principles of res judicata by receiving testimony in a contempt hearing on matters previously adjudicated at trial, and (2) abused its discretion when it found Appellant in contempt. The Supreme Court held (1) because Appellant failed to provide a record of the contempt hearing, the first issue will not be considered, and even if res judicata principles applied, Appellant’s argument was without merit; and (2) because no transcript of the hearing was provided, the Court must assume that the district court’s findings and rulings are correct, and thus they are summarily affirmed. View "Rigdon v. Rigdon" on Justia Law

by
Both of ten-year-old Jane Doe II’s parents passed away in 2017. A family friend with whom Jane and her mother had been living (“Friend”) petitioned for guardianship of Jane. Jane’s father’s twin sister (“Aunt”) also petitioned for guardianship. During proceedings the magistrate court appointed a local attorney, Auriana Clapp-Younggren (“Clapp-Younggren”), to serve as both the attorney and the guardian ad litem for Jane. After trial the magistrate court followed Clapp-Younggren’s recommendation and awarded temporary guardianship to Friend so that Jane could finish the school year, but appointed Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian. Friend appealed the magistrate court decision. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the magistrate court abused its discretion by failing to conduct a reasonable inquiry into whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney. The final decree appointing Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian was vacated and the case was remanded so that the magistrate court can conduct a hearing to determine whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney prior to a new trial. View "In the Interest of Jane Doe II (under 18)" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating the parental rights of Father and Mother (together, Parents) to their son pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii). On appeal, Parents challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the district court’s findings of unfitness and best interest and the court’s discretionary determination that termination of parental rights was in the child’s best interest. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the evidence supported the court’s factual findings and discretionary determinations; and (2) the court did not abuse its discretion in determining that termination of Parents’ parental rights was in the child’s best interest. View "In re Child of Everett S." on Justia Law