Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the juvenile court terminating Father's parental rights to his child, holding that the juvenile court did not err in terminating Father's parental rights.The juvenile court concluded that the State proved the grounds for termination and terminated Father's parental rights. Father's counsel filed a motion for belated appeal, which the Supreme Court granted. The Supreme Court then affirmed, holding that the State proved by clear and convincing evidence that the bases for termination under both Iowa Code 232.116(1)(3) and 232.116(1)(h) were satisfied and that no exceptions in Iowa Code 232.116(3) applied to preclude the termination. View "In re W.T." on Justia Law

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The circuit court of Cook County adjudicated Z.L. and Z.L.’s siblings abused and neglected minors under the Juvenile Court Act (705 ILCS 405/2-3) and made the minors wards of the court. The appellate court reversed the findings of abuse and neglect and remanded for compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, 25 U.S.C. 1912(a).The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the judgment of the circuit court, rejecting arguments that the state failed to prove Z.L. was a victim of abusive head trauma and that the court’s finding that Z.L. was physically abused was against the manifest weight of the evidence. The trial court’s conclusion that the mother was unable, at that time, to parent the children was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. The court remanded for a determination of whether there was compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Although the record disclosed that the state sent notification to the Bureau of Indian Affairs on December 20, 2019, there is no evidence as to what has transpired in connection with this notice since that time. View "In re Z.L." on Justia Law

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Chad Quamme appealed a divorce judgment, arguing the district court erred when it calculated child support and when it awarded Ashley Quamme spousal support. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the district court’s child support determination, concluding the court’s finding that Chad was self-employed was not supported by the evidence. The Court also reversed the court’s award of spousal support because it was unable to determine the court’s rationale for deciding Chad had the ability to pay. The case was remanded for the district court to recalculate child support and to reassess whether an award of spousal support was warranted. View "Quamme v. Quamme" on Justia Law

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Terry and Xiomara Robirds married in Taos, New Mexico in 2004. Prior to the marriage, Terry worked for Halliburton and ConocoPhillips. He participated in employer sponsored retirement plans with both employers. In 2007, Terry and Xiomara purchased a residence in Rigby, Idaho. Xiomara’s name was not listed on the warranty deed, and she executed a quitclaim deed to Terry on June 4, 2007. The seller issued a warranty deed to Terry on June 6, 2007. Xiomara filed for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences in September 2016, and Terry counterclaimed on the same grounds. Xiomara was not proficient in English. The parties attended mediation with a Spanish speaking mediator for Xiomara and reached a partial agreement as to custody, support, and visitation for their only child, but did not resolve the issue of property distribution. Then prior to trial, the parties reached a settlement regarding property division. The record was not clear as to whether Xiomara had an interpreter during the negotiations that resulted in the Property Settlement. Xiomara claimed she did not. Terry averred a Spanish speaking mediator was assigned but did not specifically allege that an interpreter was present during the negotiations which led to the Property Settlement. The divorce decree, entered August 2017 (“Decree”), incorporated the Property Settlement as Exhibit B. Terry appealed the district court’s decision on intermediate appeal, which affirmed the decision of the magistrate court to: (1) set aside a stipulated judgment regarding property distribution; and (2) characterize all of Terry’s retirement accounts as community property, to be divided equally as of the date of divorce. On appeal, Terry argued that the district court erred in affirming the magistrate court’s rulings and in failing to award Terry attorney fees on intermediate appeal. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirm the district court. View "Robirds v. Robirds" on Justia Law

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Cliff Boldt appealed a divorce judgment, arguing the district court erred when it awarded Heidi Boldt primary residential responsibility of the parties’ minor children. He argued the court’s analysis of the best interest factors was inadequate, and the evidence did not support its decision. Heidi cross appealed, arguing the court erred when it calculated child support. She argued the court improperly allowed Cliff to deduct amounts he paid her for the children’s health insurance premiums from his gross income. Finding no reversible error in either appeal, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Boldt v. Boldt" on Justia Law

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Jason and Andrea Alm appealed a district court order denying grandparent visitation, arguing the district court erred in finding they did not meet the statutory requirements for nonparent visitation. The Alms were the parents of Spencer Muchow. Muchow and Mariah Kohler had two children, S.J.M.A. and D.J.M.A. In 2018, the district court awarded Muchow primary residential responsibility of the children. Muchow died in 2019 and the children went into Kohler’s exclusive care. In 2020, the Alms filed a petition for visitation. After a hearing, a judicial referee denied the Alms’ petition. The Alms requested district court review. The district court adopted the referee’s findings, concluding it was not proven that the Alms had a significant emotional bond with their grandchildren, and that denial of visitation would harm their grandchildren. The district court found Kohler was acting in her children’s best interest and could allow the Alms visitation if she so decided. Upon review of the evidence and the district court’s findings, the North Dakota Supreme Court was "not left with a definite and firm conviction a mistake was made." Accordingly, judgment was affirmed. View "Muchow v. Kohler, et al." on Justia Law

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Richard Anderson and Priscilla Iakel-Garcia married in 2008 and had one child. In November 2019, Iakel-Garcia filed for divorce. In November 2020, a bench trial was held by reliable electronic means. Richard appealed the judgment granting the parties’ divorce, awarding Priscilla Iakel-Garcia primary residential responsibility and sole decision-making of the parties’ minor child, and distributing the parties’ marital estate. Richard argued the district court erred in awarding Priscilla primary residential responsibility and sole decision-making because the court should not have considered his criminal conviction. Further, he argued the court failed to divide the property equitably between the parties. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment awarding Priscilla primary residential responsibility and sole decision-making. However, the Court found the district court failed to determine the total value of the marital estate before dividing the marital property. "The judgment, without any reference to the Ruff-Fischer guidelines, fails to list any value for the parties’ assets. As a result, we are unable to determine whether the court equitably distributed the marital estate because the court did not make sufficient findings to permit appellate review." This portion of the district court judgment was reversed and the matter remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "Iakel-Garcia v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the divorce judgment issued in the district court as to child support and affirmed in all other respects, holding that the district court erred in calculating child support.Lawrence Bloom and Annalee Bloom had two children when they divorced. The district court entered a divorce judgment on Annalee's complaint setting forth child support and spousal support and distributing the marital property. Lawrence appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment in part, holding (1) because the child support worksheets and orders contained multiple errors, the court's child support determination in the amended judgment must be corrected; and (2) the judgment is otherwise affirmed. View "Bloom v. Bloom" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated in part the judgment of the district court modifying the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities in the divorce judgment in this case, holding that the court abused its discretion in declining to take judicial notice of certain information and failed adequately to explain certain modifications.On appeal, Appellant argued that the court erred in failing to take judicial notice of vaccine information available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and failed to provide an explanation when it changed the contract schedule and allocated final decision-making authority on educational and medical matters to Appellee. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment in part, holding (1) the court abused its discretion in refusing to take judicial notice; and (2) the court inadequately explained its modifications to the contact schedule and the allocation of decision-making authority. View "Seymour v. Seymour" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting Respondent's petition to adopt H.G., holding that there was insufficient to show that the court abused its discretion in granting the petition for adoption.When she filed her petition to adopt H.G., Respondent had been H.G.'s primary caretaker for seven years and his legal guardian for three years, and had had sole discretion regarding visitation with the child for one year. Petitioner, the child's birth mother, opposed the adoption. After a hearing, the circuit court granted the petition on the grounds that Petitioner had abandoned the child. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in concluding (1) involuntary wage garnishment in 2019 did not constitute financial support; and (2) Petitioner failed to visit or communicate with the child for at least six months preceding the petition. View "In re Adoption of H.G." on Justia Law