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The Coalition filed suit on behalf of its foster parent members, alleging that the State pays foster parents members inadequate rates to cover the costs of caring for their foster children, in violation of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's finding that the Coalition has standing to sue on behalf of its members under Nnebe v. Daus, 644 10 F.3d 147 (2d Cir. 2011) and rejected the State's argument that the Coalition was barred by the third‐party standing rule. However, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the Coalition's claims and joined the Sixth and Ninth Circuits in holding that the Act creates a specific entitlement for foster parents to receive foster care maintenance payments, and that this entitlement was enforceable through 42 U.S.C. 1983. Accordingly, the court vacated the order dismissing the case and remanded for further proceedings. View "New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children v. Poole" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Mother's petition to terminate the guardianship of her two minor children, holding that the circuit court erred in finding that it remained in the best interest of the children to leave the guardianship intact. The children's paternal grandparents filed a petition for emergency and permanent guardianship of the children after Mother's husband was charged with the sexual abuse of the older child. The circuit court granted the grandparents a permanent guardianship, finding that it was in the best interest of both children for the guardianship to be granted. Mother later filed a petition to terminate the guardianship due to a material change in circumstances. The circuit court denied the petition. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a fit parent who did not consent to a guardianship must be afforded a natural parent's constitutional right to raise her child without undue interference from the government; (2) Mother was entitled to the fit-parent presumption that the guardianship was no longer necessary when she filed her petition to terminate the guardianship; and (3) the presumption that Mother acted in her children's best interest was not rebutted on the record. View "Hartman v. Reardon" 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 two children pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a), (B)(2)(a)-(b)(i), (iv), holding that the district court did not commit clear error in terminating Mother's parental rights. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence admitted at the termination hearing was sufficient to support the court's unfitness finding; (2) the court's best interest findings did not constitute factual errors or an abuse of discretion because, contrary to Mother's argument, the court's findings were not predicated solely on an assumption that the grandmother would adopt the children; and (3) the procedural interaction between the probate court and the district court did not deprive Mother of due process. View "In re Children of Bethmarie R." on Justia Law

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In this custody dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court's finding that Appellant qualified as the child's de facto custodian under Ky. Rev. Stat. 403.270, holding that Appellant did not qualify as the child's de facto custodian and lacked standing to assert custodial rights. The circuit court granted temporary custody of the child to Appellant and Dixie Meinders. Later, it was discovered that Keith Middleton was the child's biological father. Keith moved to transfer custody and later filed a civil action seeking custody of the child. Appellant was granted custody. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Appellant did not qualify for de facto custodian status. The Supreme Court held (1) the time period required for de facto custodian status under section 403.270 must be continuous, rather than aggregated; (2) any active participation by a parent in a custody proceeding evincing a desire to regain custody is sufficient to toll the requisite de facto custodian time period under section 403.270; (3) neither Appellant nor Dixie qualified as the child's de facto custodian, and both lacked standing to assert custodial rights; and (4) custody should be placed with Keith where the mother agreed that sole custody be placed with him. View "Meinders v. Middleton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court granting the Oglala Sioux Tribe's motion to transfer jurisdiction of an abuse and neglect proceeding to tribal court, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion when it granted the Tribe's motion to transfer without hearing the testimony of the child's physician. After the child in this case was born, the State alleged that the child was abused or neglected. At the outset of what was to have been the final disposition hearing, the Tribe orally moved to transfer the abuse and neglect case to tribal court. The circuit court ultimately granted the Tribe's motion to transfer. The child's counsel appealed, challenging the circuit court's order transferring jurisdiction to tribal court. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion when it granted the Tribe's motion to transfer without hearing the testimony of the child's physician, who was present in the courtroom. The Court remanded the case for further proceedings to determine the Tribe's motion for transfer anew. View "In re Interest of E.T." 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)(b)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii), holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion by concluding that termination of Father's parental rights was in the best interest of the child. After a hearing, the court found that Father was parentally unfit because he was neither able to protect the child from jeopardy nor able to take responsibility for the child and would be unable to do ether within a time reasonably calculated to meet the child's needs. The court also determined that termination was in the child's best interest. Father appealed, challenging only the court's best interest determination. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by determining that termination Father's parental rights was necessary so that the child could be placed in a stable and permanent setting. View "In re Child of Peter T." 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 two children, holding that the district court did not err its findings of unfitness and its best interest determination. The Department of Health and Human Services petitioned for the termination of Mother's parental rights to both of her children. The court subsequently terminated Mother's rights to the children. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the court's factual findings of unfitness and best interest were not clearly erroneous; and (2) the court's ultimate determination of best interest was not an abuse of discretion. View "In re Children of Christine A." on Justia Law

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In this dispute over custody of a child, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting Mother's motion to strike Father's motion for an order relinquishing permanent child custody jurisdiction to the tribal court, holding that the district court properly concluded that it retained exclusive continuing jurisdiction to make permanent custody determinations regarding the child. The district court granted Mother primary custody of the parties' child. Father, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, kept the child on the South Dakota reservation and refused to relinquish custody to Mother. Father sought orders from the district court and the trial court transferring jurisdiction over the custody matter to the tribal court. The tribal court dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction because the custody action was pending in the district court and Mother was not a tribal matter. In the district court, Father argued that the tribal court acquired jurisdiction over the custody matter by issuing emergency child custody and/or protection orders. The district court granted Mother's motion to strike Father's motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly concluded that it retained exclusive continuing jurisdiction to make permanent custody determinations regarding the child. View "Mitchell v. Preston" on Justia Law

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In this case between former spouses who disagreed about the ex-husband's entitlement to visitation with two dogs the parties acquired during their marriage, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the family court approving the marital settlement agreement (MSA) entered into between Diane and Paul Giarrusso and ordering that Paul had the dogs Tuesdays through Thursdays, as provided in the MSA. Diane and Paul entered into a MSA formalizing the terms of the dissolution of their marriage. The final judgment dissolving the marriage incorporated the MSA. The MSA gave Diane title and interest in and to the two dogs and permitted Paul to take the dogs for weekly visits. After Diane unilaterally ceased allowing the visits, Paul filed a motion for post-final judgment relief. Diane also filed a motion for relief, claiming that Paul had breached the MSA regarding the dogs. The hearing justice denied Diane's requested relief, finding that the MSA unambiguously gave Paul the right to visitation with the dogs every week from Tuesday to Thursday and that Paul acted in good faith with respect to the dogs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice did not err in not withdrawing the court's approval of the MSA and did not overlook or misconceive any evidence. View "Giarrusso v. Giarrusso" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff's administrative claim for an increase in the family's adoption assistance program (AAP) payments based on California State Foster Parent Assn. v. Wagner, (9th Cir. 2010) 624 F.3d 974, 978, was denied, the trial court granted his petition for writ of mandate. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that the foster care maintenance payment rate increases mandated by Wagner and California State Foster Parent Assn. v. Lightbourne, (N.D. Cal., May 27, 2011, No. C 07-05086 WHA) 2011 U.S.Dist. Lexis 57483, *8, do not apply retroactively to plaintiff's adopted children. The court explained that the California Legislature specifically amended Welfare and Institutions Code section 16121 to confirm that initial adoption assistance agreements that predated Lighthouse were not subject to the new rate structure. View "California Department of Social Services v. Marin" on Justia Law