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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant’s complaint seeking to be determined a de facto parent of her grandson. The district court concluded, after a contested hearing, that Appellant failed to establish that she had standing to proceed to a plenary hearing. Specifically, the court found that Appellant did not present prima facie evidence that the child resided with her for a significant period of time or that the mother regarded Appellant as a parent to the child. The court further concluded that the best interest of the child was insufficient to confer standing on Appellant. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed, holding (1) the court was required to dismiss the complaint because Appellant did not have standing to proceed with her de facto parenthood claim; and (2) the court did not hold Appellant to a greater standard than that to which an unrelated third party would be held. View "Davis v. McGuire" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Petitioner’s request to review the Standing Master’s order denying Petitioner relief in this dissolution proceeding on the basis that Petitioner's objections to the order lacked specificity under Mont. Code Ann. 3-5-126(2). After Petitioner’s marriage was dissolved, Petitioner moved the district court to enforce the debts and liabilities provision incorporated into the parties’ dissolution decree. The Standing Master denied relief. Petitioner filed a notice of specific objections to the Standing Master’s order and a motion requesting that the district court review it. The district court denied the request, concluding that Petitioner’s objections to the order lacked specificity. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in determining that Petitioner failed specifically to object to the Standing Master’s order under section 3-5-126(2). View "In re Marriage of Scrantom" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Father’s parental rights to his child pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(iv), holding that Father failed to present a prima facie case of ineffective assistance of counsel and that the record evidence supported the court’s findings and discretionary determinations. On appeal, Father argued that his counsel’s withdrawal two months before the termination hearing amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that Father did not demonstrate prejudice from counsel’s performance. View "In re Child of Stephen E." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order directing husband to pay wife child support for their three children. The court held that the trial court properly followed the case of Asfaw v. Wolberhan, 147 Cal.App.4th 1407, by disallowing husband's deduction of depreciation; husband failed to demonstrate any prejudicial error or abuse of discretion by the trial court and substantial evidence supported the trial court's finding that special circumstances existed in this case to support the grant of an upward departure from guideline support; and the trial court did not err in regard to husband's request for sanctions. View "Marriage of Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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In 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) initiated a child protective proceeding in requesting that the court take jurisdiction of two-year-old JJW and newborn ELW after ELW tested positive for controlled substances at birth. The minor children were removed from the biological parents’ care and placed with foster parents. Both children were eligible for membership in the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. In 2015, the biological parents released their rights to the children; a referee accepted the parents’ releases and entered standard orders terminating the biological parents’ rights. The children’s foster parents petitioned to adopt the children, the Sault Tribe objected, and the court denied the foster parents’ petition. The court committed the children to the Michigan Children’s Institute (MCI) for further case planning. Respondent-father Jack Williams then filed a notice to withdraw his prior consent to the termination of his parental rights and demanded the return of the children under MCL 712B.13(3) of the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA). The court denied Williams’s withdrawal request, reasoning that MCL 712B.13(3) did not apply because Williams had not voluntarily consented to placement for purposes of adoption under MCL 712B.13(3) but instead had released his parental rights to the minor children to DHHS under MCL 710.28. The foster parents appealed the circuit court order denying their adoption petition, and Williams appealed the order denying his motion to withdraw his consent to the termination of his parental rights and for return of the children. The Court of Appeals consolidated the cases, and in a per curiam opinion, vacated the circuit court’s order denying the adoption and remanded for further proceedings. The Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Williams’s motion to withdraw his consent to the termination of his parental rights and to have his children returned to his custody. Williams believed the plain language of MCL 712B.13(3) entitled him to withdraw his consent because the trial court had not yet entered a final order of adoption for his children. The Michigan Supreme Court agreed, and reversed and remanded this matter for further proceedings. View "In re Williams" on Justia Law

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The superior court divided J. Jill Maxwell and William Sosnowski's marital property during divorce proceedings. The superior court found that William was entitled to credit for post-separation mortgage payments that he made on the marital residence, but it did not determine the precise amount of those credits because the sale of the residence was pending. After the residence ultimately sold nearly two years later, the superior court issued a disbursement order that granted William credit for mortgage payments dating back to October 2011, when he moved out of the marital residence, rather than May 31, 2013, which the court had found to be the separation date. Jill appealed the effective date of the credit for these post-separation payments in the disbursement order. She also challenged consideration of the funds she provided to her adult son during the marriage in the property division order. The Alaska Supreme Court vacated the disbursement order because William was entitled to credit only for payments he made after the separation date. But the Court concluded Jill’s argument regarding the funds she gave her son was untimely because the property division order became final in December 2014. View "Maxwell v. Sosnowski" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was Husband’s challenge to a 1994 divorce decree that divided Husband’s military retirement benefits as marital property. In 2013, Husband filed a motion to set aside the portion of the 1994 divorce decree awarding Wife a share of his military retirement, arguing that the judgment was void because the district court lacked jurisdiction to divide his military retirement benefits pursuant to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), 10 U.S.C. 1408 et seq. The district court judge rejected Husband’s jurisdictional argument and awarded Wife her attorney fees. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the USFSPA imposes limitations on a Kansas court’s personal jurisdiction and does not impact the underlying subject-matter jurisdiction granted by the Kansas Constitution and Kansas statutes; (2) the district court had subject-matter jurisdiction over this case in 1994; (3) the court had personal jurisdiction over Husband in 1994 based on implied consent; and (4) the district court had authority to award attorney fees. View "In re Marriage of Williams" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of dissolution entered by the district, holding that there was no abuse of discretion in either the amount or duration of the alimony award. The district court entered a decree of dissolution that ordered Husband to pay Wife alimony of $2,500 per month for ten years. Husband appealed, challenging the alimony award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court had ample evidence from which to conclude that Husband’s income and earning potential were sufficient to support a monthly alimony award of $2,500; and (2) given the length of the parties’ marriage, the ages of their minor children, and Wife’s chronic medical conditions and high medication costs, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering alimony for a period of ten years. View "Wiedel v. Wiedel" on Justia Law

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Linda Marshall appealed a trial court’s judgment on reserved issues following the dissolution of her marriage to Bryan Marshall. Linda challenged two specific aspects of the family court’s division of marital property: (1) the court erred declaring a 2006 capital gains tax liability to be a community debt, notwithstanding the fact she had obtained an “innocent spouse” determination from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); and (2) the court erred in awarding Bryan the post-separation proceeds of a disability insurance policy as his separate property, despite the fact the policy had been purchased with community funds and was purportedly intended to serve as retirement income. The Court of Appeal determined the trial court did not err: (1) the trial court was not bound by the IRS’s innocent spouse determination in characterizing the tax liability, and the decision to treat the liability as a community debt, notwithstanding that determination, was supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the disability insurance policy was intended to replace Bryan’s earned income, rather than to operate as part of a retirement plan, was amply supported by the evidence. View "Marriage of Marshall" on Justia Law

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In a proceeding to terminate parental rights that is governed by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA), qualified expert witness testimony is required to support the determination that continued custody of the child by the parent is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. The district court terminated the parental rights of Mother and Father, concluding that ICWA and MIFPA applied to the proceedings and that the laws’ requirements had been satisfied. The court of appeals reversed in part, holding that the district court erred in failing expressly to find under ICWA and MIFPA that continued custody of the child by the parent was likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. On appeal, the district court stated as much in a one-sentence addendum to its findings of fact and conclusions of law. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s termination decision. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court erred in terminating Father’s parental rights because the qualified expert witness’s testimony did not support the court’s determination that continued custody of the children by Father would likely result in serious damage to the children. View "In re Welfare of Children of S.R.K. & O.A.K." on Justia Law