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In this divorce case, the Supreme Court vacated a portion of the divorce decree providing for an order under Koelsch v. Koelsch, 148 Ariz. 176 (1986), holding that federal law does not permit a state court to order a military spouse to pay the equivalent of military retirement benefits to a former spouse if the military spouse continues to work past an eligible retirement date. When the parties divorced, Husband was still an active duty service member. The trial judge ordered Husband, if he chose to work beyond his retirement eligibility date, to begin making payments to Wife equivalent to what she would have received as her share of Husband's military retirement pay (MRP) had Husband retired. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that federal law precluded such indemnification. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that state courts cannot order service members to make MRP-based payments to former spouses before retirement. View "Barron v. Barron" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant's complaint seeking to be determined a de facto parent of Appellee's adopted child, holding that the district court erred in dismissing this case for lack of standing. The district court dismissed Appellant's complaint for lack of standing. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court abused its discretion in refusing to hold a hearing to determine disputed facts and in concluding that Appellee's refusal to allow Appellant to adopt the child was dispositive of the issue of whether Appellee acknowledged or behaved as though Appellant was a parent to the child. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the case, holding that the court's treatment of the single fact of Appellee's refusal to allow Appellant to adopt as dispositive in the standing analysis constituted an error of law, and the court should have held a hearing to determine disputed facts regarding the issue of standing. View "Young v. King" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her child, holding that Mother had a right to the effective assistance of counsel at the proceeding where she consented to the termination of her parental rights and that Mother received effective assistance when she voluntarily gave her consent. At a hearing, Mother advised the court that she had decided to consent to a termination of her parental rights. Satisfied that Mother's decision was knowing and voluntary, the court ordered that Mother's parental rights be terminated. Mother later filed a motion for a new trial pursuant to Me. R. Civ. P. 59, arguing that her consent was involuntary and that she had received ineffective assistance of counsel in giving consent. The court denied Mother's request to set aside her consent. Mother also filed a Me. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6) motion for relief from the termination judgment based on counsel's alleged ineffective assistance. The court denied the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the court did not clearly err in finding that Mother voluntarily consented to a termination of her parental rights or in denying the Rule 60(b)(6) motion for relief without holding a second evidentiary hearing. View "In re Child of Rebecca J." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating the parental rights of Mother and Father to their child pursuant to Maine's Child and Family Services and Child Protection Act, 22 Me. Rev. Stat. 4001 to 4099-H, and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U.S.C.S. 1901-1963, holding that the district court did not err in terminating the parents' parental rights and denying their other requests for relief. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err by concluding that active efforts had been made to prevent the breakup of the Indian family, as required by ICWA; (2) the evidence was sufficient to support the court's determination that Mother was parentally unfit within the meaning of state law; (3) the district court did not err in denying Father's two motions to transfer the case to the Penobscot Nation Tribal Court; and (4) the district court did not err in denying Father's post-judgment motion alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. View "In re Child of Radience K." on Justia Law

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The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to address whether the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing as moot the appeal of a juvenile delinquency adjudication. M. F. was found delinquent for criminal attempt to enter an automobile, for which M. F. was placed on probation for 12 months. M.F. appealed, arguing the evidence was insufficient to support the juvenile court's adjudication of delinquency. When M.F.'s probationary sentence concluded, the Court of Appeals issued an order in which it declined to reach the merits of M. F.’s appeal, concluding that his case was moot because his probationary sentence had expired and because M. F. “has not shown, on this record, any adverse collateral consequences arising from the juvenile court’s adjudication of him as delinquent.” The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a juvenile who appeals his adjudication of delinquency was not required to show adverse collateral consequences in the record; such consequences would be be presumed. The Court concluded the Court of Appeals erred, and its order was reversed and the matter remanded for consideration on the merits. View "In the Interest of M.F." on Justia Law

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Appellant Molly Kent challenged a specific ruling of the family court on her request to modify a child custody and child support order issued by a North Carolina court. The family court granted in part and denied in part the appellant's request, without first determining whether the California court had jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). Accordingly, without reaching the merits of the arguments related to the substantive ruling on appeal, the California Court of Appeal reversed the order because, based on the record before the family court at the time it ruled, the court lacked jurisdiction to modify the North Carolina order. View "In re Marriage of Kent" on Justia Law

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In this dissolution proceeding, Stephanie George appeals an order requiring her to pay $10,000 in sanctions pursuant to Family Code section 271 to her ex-husband Daniel Deamon after Deamon was required to file a motion for entry of judgment pursuant to the terms of the parties' settlement. George contends that the family court erred by awarding sanctions without considering any oral testimony, relying instead on documents submitted in support of the sanctions motion. The Court of Appeal concluded George's argument lacked merit, and accordingly affirm the order. View "In re Marriage of George & Deamon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of district court awarding primary custody of the parties' two children and child support to Mother, holding that the district court abused its discretion by ordering child support without obtaining sufficient information about Father's income. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court abused its discretion when it calculated the amount for child support based on a misunderstanding of the evidence establishing Father's income; and (2) Father's argument that the district court's time limits for presenting at trial deprived him of a meaningful opportunity to testify and cross-examine witnesses failed because Father's assertions were insufficient to explain how the district court's restriction on the time he had violated due process or his fundamental right to associate with his children. View "Lemus v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decree of the family court that terminated Mother's parental rights with respect to her minor son, holding that notice of the hearing date on the petition to terminate Mother's parental rights was improper as a matter of law and that the decree must be vacated and the matter remanded for a hearing with appropriate notice in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws 15-7-9. The family court ordered that an advertisement be placed in a local newspaper notifying Mother the a hearing on the petition to terminate her parental rights would be held on October 3, 2017. Mother was not present at the October 3, 2017 hearing, and the court went forward with the hearing despite Mother's absence. The trial justice determined that Mother was unfit to parent and ordered that Mother's parental rights be terminated. The Supreme Court vacated the decree and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) because there was no affidavit filed in advance of the family court order of notice by publication in accordance with R. I. Gen. Laws 15-7-9, the family court's order of advertisement was improper as a matter of law; and (2) Mother was entitled to procedural due process before the termination of her parental rights. View "In re Joziah B." on Justia Law

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In this parental termination case, the Supreme Court remanded this case to the court of appeals for further proceedings, holding that the court of appeals erred in finding that the evidence was sufficient to terminate Father's parental rights under Tex. Fam. Code 161.001(b)(1)(O) without addressing Father's challenge to section 161.001(b)(1)(D). The trial court terminated Father's parental rights under three grounds for termination specified in the Texas Family Code - sections 161.001(b)(1)(D), (N), and (O). On appeal, Father challenged the sufficiency of the evidence as to all three grounds. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's order for termination based only on section 161.001(b)(1)(O). The Supreme Court remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) in light of In re N.G., __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2019), in which the Court held that due process requires an appellate court to review and detail its analysis as to termination of parental rights under section 161.001(b)(1)(D) or (e) when challenge on appeal, the court of appeals erred failing to address Father's challenge as to section 161.001(b)(1)(O); and (2) the court of appeals erred in failing to address the merits of section 161.001(d) as it relates to termination of Father's parental rights under section 161.001(b)(1)(O). View "In re Interest of Z.M.M." on Justia Law