Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

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The issue presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review was one of first impression involving a magistrate court’s custody determination of an eight-year-old developmentally delayed and hearing-impaired child (Child) who was removed from his father’s (Father) care by law enforcement on an emergency basis. Child was found home alone by representatives of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW or the Department). After a shelter care hearing, the magistrate court determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that Child fell within the jurisdiction of the CPA based on a lack of a stable home environment. Father objected to the magistrate court’s exercise of jurisdiction, arguing that because Father had been granted joint custody of Child with Child’s mother (Mother) by a California court, the UCCJEA applied, which required the magistrate court to consult with the California court that had previously entered the custody order before the magistrate court could proceed in Idaho. After contacting and communicating with the California judge’s representative, the magistrate court conducted an adjudicatory hearing, ultimately vesting custody of Child with the Department. Finding no reversible error in this judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed the magistrate court's decision. View "IDHW v. John Doe" on Justia Law

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Cynthia Hilton appealed a trial court's decision to deny her motion to divide an omitted asset: a company partially owned by her ex-husband, Lance Hilton. Cynthia alleged that because the stipulated divorce decree did not list the company as community or separate property, it was an omitted asset and she was entitled to half of its retained earnings allocable to Lance. The magistrate court denied Cynthia’s motion on the basis that it had previously determined the company was Lance’s separate property. On intermediate appeal, the district court affirmed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Hilton v. Hilton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the trial court terminating Father's parental rights in his son, holding that the trial court failed to make proper findings on adjudication.Mother initiated this action seeking to terminate Father's parental rights, asserting that grounds existed to terminate Father's parental rights based on willful abandonment pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(7). After a hearing, the trial court terminated Father's parental rights. The Supreme Court vacated the order below, holding that the trial court failed to make proper findings on adjudication and remand was required for further factual findings. View "In re K.J.E." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Mother's and Father's parental rights to their child, holding that the trial court properly adjudicated the existence of a ground for termination under N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(3).The Department of Social Services filed a petition to terminate Mother's and Father's parental rights on the grounds of neglect, willful failure to make progress, failure to pay for the cost of care for the juvenile, and dependency. See N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1)-(3), (6). After a hearing, the trial court determined that grounds existed to terminate the parents' parental rights as alleged in the petition and that it was in the child's best interest that the parents' parental rights be terminated. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court's conclusion that a ground for termination existed pursuant to subsection 7B-1111(a)(3) was sufficient in and of itself to support termination of the parents' parental rights. View "In re D.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Mother's parental rights to her minor child, holding that Mother was not entitled to relief on her allegations of error.The trial court found that grounds existed to terminate Mother's parental rights pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1) and (2) and that termination was in the child's best interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Mother failed to show prejudice from the trial court's denial of her counsel's motion to continue the termination hearing; and (2) the trial court sufficiently complied with the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act as it pertained to the child. View "In re D.J." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Mother's parental rights to her minor daughters, holding that the evidence supported the trial court's adjudication of the existence of grounds for termination pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1).After a termination hearing, the trial court entered an order that adjudicated the existence of the three grounds for termination alleged in the motion to terminate Mother's parental rights, concluded that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the children's best interests, and terminated Mother's parental rights in the children. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the evidence in the record supported the trial court's adjudication of the existence of grounds for termination pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1). View "In re L.H." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Mother's parental rights in her minor child, holding that one of the grounds outlined in N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a) existed to justify terminating Mother's parental rights.After a hearing, the trial court entered an order concluding that grounds existed to terminate Mother's parental rights to her child pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)91), (2), and (9) and that it was in the child's best interests that Mother's parental rights be terminated. Mother appealed the termination of her parental rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court's findings of fact challenged by Mother on appeal were supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence; and (2) the facts supported the trial court's legal conclusion that grounds existed to terminate Mother's parental rights pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a). View "In re T.M.B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Father's and Mother's respective parental rights to their two children, holding that the findings of fact adequately supported the ground for terminating the parents' parental rights for willful failure to make reasonable progress under N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(2).The trial court entered an order terminating the parental rights of Father and Mother, concluding that the Yadkin County Human Services Agency had proven the existence of both of its alleged grounds for termination - neglect and failure to make reasonable progress - by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court's findings of fact were supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence and supported its conclusion of law that the parents willfully failed to make reasonable progress to correct the conditions that led to the removal of the children from their home. View "In re B.J.H." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the trial court terminating Father's parental rights to his minor child, holding that the evidence was insufficient to support the necessary findings to establish any of the statutory grounds for termination alleged by Father and found by the trial court.After a hearing, the trial court concluded that grounds existed to terminate Father's parental rights pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(2), (4), and (5) and that it was in the child's best interests that Father's parental rights be terminated. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that in light of the trial court's failure to announce the standard of proof which it was applying to its findings of fact and due to Petitioner's failure to present sufficient evidence to support any of the alleged ground for the termination of Father's parental rights, this Court was required to reverse the trial court's order without remand. View "In re M.R.F." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court terminating Father's parental rights in his son, David, holding that the legally valid findings of fact contained in the trial court's termination order did not suffice to support a conclusion that Father's parental rights in David were subject to termination.David's maternal grandparents filed a petition seeking to have Father's parental rights in David terminated on the basis of the grounds set forth in N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1), (6), (7) and (9). The trial court entered an order determining that Father's parental rights in David were subject to termination on the basis of neglect, dependency, and abandonment and that it would be in David's best interests for Father's parental rights to be terminated. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the trial court's findings of fact did not support its conclusion that Father's parental rights in David were subject to termination. View "In re D.T.H." on Justia Law