by
Lori and Heather, a same-sex couple, conceived a child ("J.L.") through artificial insemination and co-parented together as a family for eight years. J.L. recognized Lori as her "momma" or "Momma Lori." For the first eight years of J.L.'s life, Lori was a parent to her in every respect. By Heather's own admission, Lori provided "food, clothing, and shelter" for J.L. and "supplied all the financial stability" for the entire family. Moreover, her contributions to J.L.'s wellbeing were not limited to financial support: Lori was a full and active participant in J.L.'s emotional, social, and intellectual development. The couple separated; Heather left the home they had shared, and took J.L. with her. In the initial months following their separation, Lori and Heather adhered to a regular visitation schedule for J.L. This arrangement seemed workable for seven months, until Heather suddenly denied Lori any further contact with their daughter. Since that time, Lori has neither seen nor spoken with J.L. Lori, as the non-biological parent, petitioned for shared legal custody and physical visitation under the doctrine of in loco parentis. Heather, as the biological mother, objected, asserting that the couple's genetic donor, who had never sought any determination of his own parental rights, was a necessary party to the proceedings. Agreeing that the donor's consent was a necessary requirement, the trial court dismissed Lori's petition for lack of standing. Lori appealed, and the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the trial court's dismissal for lack of standing. The Oklahoma Supreme Court granted certiorari to clarify the legal rights of non-biological co-parents in same-sex relationships, and reversed. "Lori did not act in the place of a parent; she is a parent. The record in this case cannot reasonably be read otherwise. Lori has emphatically demonstrated standing to seek a determination of visitation and custody of J.L. under the Ramey test. Consistent with the best interests of children in similar scenarios, we hold that non-biological same-sex parents may attain complete parity with biological parents." View "Schneller v. Platt" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals accepted a question certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals and answered that if an entered divorce judgment grants a spouse an interest in real property pursuant to N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law 236, and the spouse does not docket the divorce judgment in the county where the property is located, the spouse's interest is not subject to attachment by a subsequent judgment creditor that has docketed its judgment and seeks to execute against the property. A judgment creditor sought to execute against property that, in a divorce settlement, was to be sold and Wife was to receive a portion of the proceeds. The judgment creditor argued that, because it docketed its judgment before Wife docketed her judgment of divorce, the creditor had priority over Wife with respect to the property. The federal district court concluded that the judgment of divorce did not transform Wife into a judgment creditor of Husband but, rather, worked an equitable distribution of their marital assets. The federal court of appeals certified a question of law to the Court of Appeals, which held that the divorce judgment did not render Wife a judgment creditor of Husband, and therefore, Wife was not subject to the docketing requirements of N.Y. C.P.L.R. 5203. View "Pangea Capital Management, LLC v. Lakian" on Justia Law

by
In this case involving the correct interpretation of Ohio Rev. Code 3107.07(A), the statute that sets forth when the adoption of a minor child may proceed without a parent's consent, the Supreme Court held that a parent's nonsupport of his or her minor child pursuant to a judicial decree does not extinguish the requirement of that parent's consent to the adoption of the child. Appellant, the child's stepfather, filed a petition seeking to adopt B.I. and arguing that Father's consent was not required under section 3107.07(A) because Father had failed to provide support for B.I. during the year preceding the filing of the petition. During that year, Father was not subject to a child-support order pursuant to a zero-support order. The magistrate concluded that Father's consent to the adoption was not required. The probate court overruled the magistrate, concluding that a valid, zero-support order provides justifiable cause for a failure to provide maintenance and support under section 3107.07(A). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, pursuant to section 3107.07(A), a parent's nonsupport of his or her minor child pursuant to a zero-support order of a court of competent jurisdiction does not extinguish the requirement of that parent's consent to the adoption of the child. View "In re Adoption of B.I." on Justia Law

by
In this case involving the manner in which earnings from commissions figure into the calculation of child support, the Supreme Court held that Ohio Rev. Code 3119.05(D) covers income earned from commissions and that the juvenile court and court of appeals erred by failing to apply its mandatory terms. After a magistrate awarded child support to Mother, Father objected to the child-support determinations, asserting that the magistrate erred in including projected commissions when calculating his gross income. The juvenile court adopted the order of the magistrate. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that commissions were not governed by section 3119.05(D), and therefore, the trial court did not err by including Father's projected commissions in its calculation of his gross annual income. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that commissions are included with the terms of section 3119.05(D) and must be calculated as provided in that section when determining a parent's annual gross income. View "A.S. v. J.W." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from civil contempt proceedings in a dissolution action, holding that a contemnor's full compliance with a purge plan rendered moot a subsequent appeal of the finding of contempt. After the dissolution of her marriage to James Bramble, Lori Bramble was found to have willfully violated the provisions of the decree. The court established a purge plan but did not impose a sanction for the contempt. Lori filed a timely motion to alter or amend the order, which the court overruled. Lori appealed, arguing that the district court erred by finding her in contempt and by imposing a purge plan. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the appeal was moot because Lori had fully and voluntarily purged herself of the civil contempt finding she sought to overturn, and no legally cognizable interest continued to exist. View "Bramble v. Bramble" on Justia Law

by
Manish and Priyanka married in 2014. Manish filed a petition for nullity of marriage in December 2015, alleging that the marriage was voidable based on fraud. Priyanka filed a response, denying the allegations but requesting a dissolution of the marriage due to irreconcilable differences. In May 2016, Priyanka filed a request for a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO). In September 2016, the trial court denied both Manish’s petition and Priyanka's request for a DVRO. In February 2017, Priyanka filed a new DVRO request, which was granted with a five-year duration. The next day, Manish sought a DVRO against Priyanka. Priyanka denied the allegations but did not file a separate request for another DVRO against Manish. Manish denied committing any acts of domestic violence but admitted sending a letter to Priyanka’s employer. Priyanka denied ever hitting Manish but admitted that on two occasions she pushed him away because he was too close to her. The court made a finding under Family Code Section 6305 that each party has committed acts of domestic violence and entered a mutual restraining order. The court of appeal concluded that the trial court lacked authority to impose a mutual restraining order because Priyanka had not filed a separate written request for such an order as required by section 6305(a)(1). View "Marriage of Ankola" on Justia Law

by
Bruce Wayne Lee appealed a final judgment and decree of divorce from his marriage to Kimberly Lee. On appeal, Bruce argued the district court erred in its valuation of marital assets and the allocation of the marital estate. He also contended he was prejudiced by the district court’s six-month delay in issuing a final judgment. Finding no abuse of discretion or other reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Lee v. Lee" on Justia Law

by
Stacy Tschider appealed and Melanie Tschider, also known as Su Lin Tschider, cross-appealed a judgment that granted joint parenting responsibility of their minor child and awarded child support, distributed the parties’ property and debts, and awarded spousal support to Melanie. Shortly before their marriage, both parties signed a prenuptial agreement in December 2002. The parties began dating in 1995 and began living together in 1996. At the time of their marriage, Melanie had a net worth of less than $50,000 and annual income of $55,548. Stacy had a net worth of $1,783,500 and an annual income of about $245,000. He had ownership interests in six businesses with a book value of about $2.9 million and five parcels of investment real estate, resulting in substantial annual income. In August 2015, Melanie filed for divorce. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in holding a provision of the parties’ prenuptial agreement was unconscionable and unenforceable and erred in awarding spousal support. However, the Court concluded the court’s property distribution was not clearly erroneous and the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Melanie's request for attorney fees. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Tschider v. Tschider, et al." on Justia Law

by
Heather Thompson appeals from a district court judgment modifying Christopher Johnson’s child support obligation and ordering her to repay overpayments of child support. In November 2015, Thompson was awarded primary residential responsibility of the minor child and Johnson was ordered to pay $314 a month in child support. Thompson successfully moved the district court to vacate the judgment, and a new trial was held in May 2017. Following the new trial, the court noted that “Johnson had $4,003,495 in assets, overall equity of $1,224,533, and crops in storage of $691,895.” Because Johnson’s significant assets were not consistent with the average losses reflected in his tax returns, the court determined Johnson’s tax returns did not accurately reflect his income for child support purposes. Using Johnson’s personal expenses and monthly budget to determine Johnson’s in-kind income, the court found Johnson had a gross annual income of $171,560.66 and a net annual income of $113,916. In September 2017, the court entered an amended judgment requiring Johnson to pay child support in the amount of $1,280 per month and $38,989 in back child support. Johnson appealed. On appeal, the North Dakota Supreme Court found the district court “failed to impute Johnson’s income or adequately explain how using his personal expenses and monthly budget satisfied the child support guidelines . . . [and] erred as a matter of law by failing to calculate Johnson’s child support obligation according to the child support guidelines.” The matter was then remanded for a recalculation of child support. Based upon its determination that Johnson was underemployed, the court imputed Johnson’s income pursuant to N.D. Admin. Code 75-02-04.1-07. The district court denied Thompson’s motion to vacate the judgment and declined to reconsider its decision. Thompson filed an appeal before the court ruled on the potential overpayment of child support. Rather than explain its findings on remand, the Supreme Court found the district court jumped directly to the conclusion Johnson was underemployed. The district court's judgment was again reversed and the matter remanded for recalculation of the child support obligation. View "Thompson, et al. v. Johnson" on Justia Law

by
H.L.K. (now known as H.G.), appealed an order denying her motion to withdraw her consent to terminate her parental rights to her children K.S.D. and J.S.D. The juvenile court found the mother executed consent to the termination of her parental rights, she was questioned about the consent by the court, the court acknowledged her consent, and she did not participate in subsequent proceedings. The court also found proof beyond a reasonable doubt established the father’s parental rights should be terminated, the children were deprived, the deprivation was likely to continue, the children were suffering or would probably suffer harm, the children had been in foster care for at least 450 of the previous 660 nights, and active efforts were made to prevent the breakup of the family. The mother argued withdrawing her consent was in the children’s best interests, the children had not been adopted, and they should be returned to her custody. The State opposed the motion. The court found the mother consented to termination of her parental rights and she failed to establish her consent was statutorily deficient. The court concluded the mother’s motion was untimely under N.D.C.C. 27-20-45(6) because she did not move to withdraw her consent within thirty days after the order terminating her parental rights was issued. The court also concluded the mother failed to establish her consent was obtained by fraud or coercion. The North Dakota Supreme Court concurred with the juvenile court's conclusion H.G.’s motion to withdraw her consent was untimely under N.D.C.C. 27-20-45(6). View "Interest of K.S.D." on Justia Law