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When a dependency court declares children dependent and removes them from a parent's custody, it is an abuse of discretion to order a reunification plan with which the parent indisputably cannot comply due to a language barrier. Determining that this case was not moot, the Court of Appeal held that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to order effective reunification services. The court reversed the portion of the disposition order requiring father to participate in a full alcohol treatment program with aftercare, a 12-step program with court card and sponsor, and parenting. The court remanded to the dependency court to reconsider its order terminating jurisdiction and for further proceedings. View "In re J.P." on Justia Law

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Faisal is a citizen of the United Kingdom, residing in London. Mardia is a U.S. citizen. They married in Bangladesh in 2009, while Mardia was a student in Michigan. She remained in Michigan to complete her studies. In 2011, Mardia moved to London; in 2013 she applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain, In 2014, Mardia, then pregnant, traveled to Knoxville, where she had lived previously. The couple disputes whether she intended to return to the UK. Faisal traveled to Knoxville on a three-month visa. Mardia gave birth to twins in Knoxville and the family moved into an apartment. Faisal’s visa expired; he returned to London. Mardia insists she told him then that she intended to remain in the U.S. with the children. Faisal visited the U.S. in April 2015. The next month, the entire family traveled to the UK. The parties dispute their intentions. In July 2015, Mardia traveled with the children to Bangladesh. Their tickets indicated they were scheduled to return to London on August 5. Mardia claims she told her husband that she would not return. Faisal claims he did not learn her plans until August 4, when she flew to Knoxville with the children. He sought their return under the Hague Convention, as implemented by 22 U.S.C. 9001. The Sixth Circuit affirmed denial of Faisal’s petition, finding that he failed to establish that the UK was the children’s habitual residence at the time Mardia retained them. View "Ahmed v. Ahmed" on Justia Law

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Vaccinations are not “medical treatment” within the meaning of Conn. Gen. Stat. 17a-10(c), and therefore, the statute does not authorize the Commissioner of Children and Families to vaccinate a child temporarily placed in her custody over the objection of that child’s parents. The children’s parents in this case entered pleas of nolo contendere as to neglect allegations and agreed to commit their two children temporarily to the care and custody of the Commissioner. The parents, however, objected to vaccination of the children for common childhood diseases in accordance with the Department of Children and Families’ usual practice. The trial court granted the Commissioner permission to vaccinate the children, concluding that the Commissioner had the authority and obligation to vaccinate the children pursuant to section 17a-10c. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statute does not authorize the Commissioner to vacate children committed to her temporary custody without parental consent. View "In re Elianah T.-T." on Justia Law

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The sperm of Brian Cole was used to inseminate Mie Tsuchimoto, who gave birth to a boy (the child). When the child was six years old, the County of Orange filed a complaint to declare Cole to be the child’s father and to seek child support from Cole. Cole defended on the ground that under Family Code section 7613, he could not be the child’s parent. The trial court found that, notwithstanding section 7613: (1) there was a rebuttable presumption under section 7611(d) that Cole was the child’s parent because Cole had received the child into his home as his natural child and openly held out the child as his own; and (2) Cole had not rebutted that presumption. The Court of Appeal affirmed, finding the trial court’s findings regarding section 7611(d) were supported by substantial evidence. "The inability to establish parenthood under section 7613 does not preclude a finding of parenthood under section 7611(d)." View "County of Orange v. Cole" on Justia Law

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Respondent Harry Dow, IV appealed a circuit court order requiring him to pay alimony to petitioner Leslie Dow in the amount of $750 per month for three years. When it calculated the amount of alimony, the trial court declined to impute income to petitioner, concluding that it had no authority to do so under RSA 458:19 (Supp. 2016). On appeal, respondent argued, among other things, that the trial court erred because RSA 458:19 authorized the imputation of income for the purpose of determining the amount of alimony. The New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with respondent and, therefore, vacated and remanded. View "In the Matter of Leslie Dow & Harry Dow, IV" on Justia Law

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When a state fails to protect a foster child from harm, the foster child can sue the state under the special-relationship doctrine, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. The special-relationship doctrine provides an exception to the general rule that states aren’t liable for harm caused by private actors. This case is about the geographical reach of the special-relationship doctrine: whether the special relationship (and its accompanying duty to protect)—crosses state lines. James Dahn, a foster child, sued two Colorado social workers responsible for investigating reports that he was being abused, along with others involved with his adoption. Dahn had been in Oklahoma’s custody until, with Oklahoma’s approval, a Colorado-based private adoption agency placed him for adoption with a foster father in Colorado. The foster father physically abused Dahn before and after adopting him. The private adoption agency was responsible for monitoring Dahn’s placement. Together with Colorado, it recommended approval of his adoption by the abusive foster father. Dahn eventually escaped his abusive foster father by running away. Dahn then sued the private adoption agency, its employees, and the Colorado caseworkers who were assigned to investigate reports of abuse from officials at Dahn’s public school. The district court dismissed all of Dahn’s claims except a section 1983 claim against the two Colorado caseworkers and two state-law claims against the agency and its employees, concluding the special-relationship doctrine allowed Dahn to move forward with the 1983 claim, and it exercised supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims. The Colorado caseworkers appealed. Though the Tenth Circuit condemned their efforts to protect the vulnerable child, the Court concluded, under the controlling precedents, that the Colorado caseworkers were entitled to qualified immunity, and reversed. View "Dahn v. Amedei" on Justia Law

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Appellant-husband James Flesch and appellee-wife Debbie Flesch were divorced by decree of divorce following a bench trial. The Georgia Supreme Court granted Husband’s discretionary application to address whether the trial court erred in: (1) determining that Wife’s Vanguard retirement account was her separate, non-marital property;(2) concluding that certain real estate qualified as marital property and was subject to equitable division; and, (3) awarding attorney fees to Wife. Though the Court agreed the trial court erred in classifying Wife’s retirement account as entirely nonmarital property, there was no merit to Husband’s remaining arguments. Accordingly, the Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Flesch v. Flesch" on Justia Law

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A mother appealed the termination of her parental rights to two children: D.H. (born 2004) and S.C. (born 2006). She argued the family court improperly withheld its discretion by refusing to grant a thirty-minute continuance so that she could attend the termination hearing. After review, the Vermont Supreme Court determined that although mother’s absence was her mistake in light of the proper notice she was given, her attorney had spoken with her and represented to the court that mother could be there in a short time. Delaying the hearing for a brief time to allow mother to appear would not have disrupted the court’s calendar or prejudiced the children, DCF, or other litigants. The Court found that denying the request had a harsh effect on mother because it resulted in the case being decided based on the exhibits and testimony presented by DCF, but without mother’s testimony. This deprived mother of the opportunity to testify regarding her participation in treatment, her progress toward the case plan goals, and her strong relationship with the children. The trial court explicitly relied on mother’s absence as evidence supporting termination, even though mother’s attorney had informed the court that she was in touch with mother and requested the continuance while the hearing was still in progress. Furthermore, the record showed mother was actively involved throughout the proceedings below. For these reasons, the Supreme Court reversed the court’s decision to terminate mother’s parental rights, and remanded the matter to the family court for the evidence to be reopened so that mother may have an opportunity to participate. View "In re D.H. & S.C." on Justia Law

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Parties in a divorce disputed the value of the husband’s post-retirement military medical benefits. The superior court determined that the benefits were a marital asset, but declined to value them or account for their value when dividing the marital estate. The court instead ordered the husband to pay for comparable medical benefits for the wife for the rest of her life. The court also determined that most of the wife’s student loans were marital debt and allocated that debt to her. Both parties appealed the superior court’s decision regarding the husband’s medical benefits; the husband also appealed the superior court’s characterization of the student loans as marital debt. The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s characterization of the wife’s student loans as marital debt, but reversed and remanded for the superior court to assign a value to the husband’s post-retirement military medical benefits and to finalize an equitable distribution of the marital estate. View "Grove v. Grove" on Justia Law

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Barry H., the father in a Child in Need of Aid (CINA) proceeding sought to dismiss his court-appointed counsel and represent himself. The Office of Children’s Services (OCS) took emergency custody of four of their children in February 2013 after receiving reports that Barry was physically and sexually abusing members of his family. At their initial hearings both Barry and Donna agreed to have counsel appointed for them. The trial court found Barry could not conduct himself in a rational and coherent manner sufficient to allow him to proceed without an attorney and denied his request. After a six-day trial the court terminated his parental rights to three of his children. The father appealed, arguing that the trial court erroneously deprived him of his right to represent himself during the CINA proceeding. Finding no reversible decision, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed. View "Barry H. v. Alaska Dept. of Health & Social Services" on Justia Law