Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

by
Two juvenile dependency cases were consolidated for the Oregon Supreme Court’s review because they presented the same issue on review: whether the juvenile court’s dependency judgments establishing jurisdiction and wardship over each of parents’ two children exceeded the scope of the court’s temporary emergency jurisdiction under ORS 109.751, one of the statutes in the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act as enacted in Oregon. Before issuing its decision in “J.S.II,” the trial court became concerned that these cases might have become moot, because the juvenile court had terminated its jurisdiction and the wardships during the pendency of the appeal. Having considered the parties’ supplemental briefs, the Supreme Court conclude that these cases were not moot. And, for the reasons discussed in J. S. II, the Supreme Court held the juvenile court had authority under ORS 109.751 to issue dependency judgments making the children wards of the court and placing them in foster care, but that it did not have authority to order parents to engage in specified activities to regain custody of the children. View "Dept. of Human Services v. P. D." on Justia Law

by
Nicole Kunz (formerly, Slappy) appealed a third amended judgment modifying her primary residential responsibility for the parties’ minor child, M.S., and granting Jermece Slappy equal residential responsibility. Kunz argued the district court erred in finding a material change in circumstances, erred in modifying the existing residential responsibility in the absence of a general decline in the child’s condition, and erred in its analysis of the best interest factors. Slappy cross-appealed, arguing the district court improperly calculated his child support obligation. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court determined the district court erred in modifying the existing residential responsibility without evidence of a general decline in the condition of the child. Therefore, the third amended judgment was reversed. In light of the Court’s decision with respect to the third amended judgment, the Court found it unnecessary to resolve the remaining issues raised by the parties on appeal. View "Slappy v. Slappy" on Justia Law

by
Tonya Kerzmann appealed a district court’s denial of her request for an evidentiary hearing on her motion for a change in primary residential responsibility. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded Kerzmann pled a prima facie case supporting her motion for modification of primary residential responsibility. Therefore, the Court reversed the district court’s order and remanded for further proceedings. View "Kerzmann v. Kerzmann" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court issuing a permanent protection order against Matthew Batchelder, holding that the circuit court's order did not rest upon sufficient factual and legal support.While expressing its reluctance against the appropriateness of issuing a permanent protection order against Matthew, the court indicated that the protection order was necessary to ease the contentious relationship between Matthew and his former wife, Ame Batchelder. The court, however, did not issue any oral or written findings. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the lack of findings and legal justification rendered the protection order infirm. View "Batchelder v. Batchelder" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the appellate court concluding that the trial court had abused its discretion in awarding Plaintiff $18,000 per month in permanent, nonmodifiable alimony, holding that the award constituted an abuse of discretion.On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court's orders impermissibly double counted his income by considering it for business valuation purposes and further by awarding alimony on the basis of his income from those businesses. The appellate court agreed and reversed the judgment as to the trial court's financial orders and remanded the case for a new hearing on all financial issues. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the alimony award was an abuse of discretion; and (2) this Court's rule against double counting does not apply when, as in the instant case, the asset at issue is the value of a business. View "Oudheusden v. Oudheusden" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the juvenile court terminating the parent-child relationship of Father to his four children, holding that while the juvenile court misapplied two factors set forth in Michael J. v. Arizona Department of Economic Security, 196 Ariz. 246 (2000), substantial evidence existed to support the termination.After a hearing, the juvenile court found that Father's incarcerative sentence was of sufficient length to deprive the children of a normal home for a period of years and that termination of Father's parental rights was in the children's best interests. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in evaluating the Michael J. factors. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the juvenile court misapplied the first two Michael J. factors; (2) the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Father's sentence was of sufficient length to deprive the children of a normal home for a period of years; and (3) reasonable evidence supported the juvenile court's best-interests finding. View "Jessie D. v. Department of Child Safety" on Justia Law

by
Two women lived together as unmarried domestic partners. One woman had a child using artificial insemination; the other helped raise the child but did not adopt the child. When the women separated, the biological mother prohibited contact between the child and the other woman, who then petitioned for custody. The superior court awarded shared custody, and the biological mother appealed. Finding no reversible error in the superior court's shared custody award, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed. View "Rosemarie P. v. Kelly B." on Justia Law

by
After Anne Herr petitioned for divorce from John Herr, John asserted that two investment accounts opened during the marriage were his separate property. The magistrate court disagreed, finding that separate and community property had been commingled in the accounts, triggering the presumption that all assets in the accounts were community property. Because John did not present an argument to rebut this presumption, the magistrate court ordered the accounts divided equally between the parties. The district court affirmed the magistrate court’s decision on intermediate appeal. John argued to the Vermont Supreme Court that the district court’s decision should be reversed because evidence sufficient to trace his separate property was admitted at trial. The Supreme Court affirmed because John was obligated to present an argument at trial to rebut the presumption that the assets were community property, not merely to provide evidence from which an argument could have been made. View "Herr v. Herr" on Justia Law

by
Defendant-father Mahlon Peachey appealed a final relief-from-abuse order issued by the family division of the superior court, which prohibited father from contacting mother Sarahann Peachey or the parties’ children except during one weekly telephone call with the children. Father argued his right to due process was violated because the court conducted the evidentiary hearing remotely and he missed a portion of the hearing due to technical issues. He further argued the restrictions on parent-child contact imposed by the court were an impermissible modification of the existing contact order that was not supported by a finding of changed circumstances or an assessment of the statutory best-interests factors. Finally, he claimed the protective order had to be reversed because it is self-contradictory and not supported by the evidence. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Peachey v. Peachey" on Justia Law

by
In this action filed by Samuel Levy seeking to compel his former wife, Einath Levy, to comply with the parties' property settlement and support agreement (PSA), the Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal affirming the judgment of the trial court denying Einath's request for prevailing-party attorney's fees pursuant to Fla. Stat. Ann. 57.105(7), holding that section 57.105(7) did not apply to the attorney's fee provision in this case.In 2011, the marriage of Samuel and Einath was dissolved. The judgment incorporated two agreements between the parties, including the PSA. Each agreement included an attorney's fee provision. Later, Samuel filed a motion to compel Einath to comply with the PSA and requested attorney's fees based on the fee provision in the PSA. Einath, in turn, requested attorney's fees for defending the motion. The magistrate concluded that Einath prevailed in defending against the motion but denied her request for fees under the PSA. The Third District reversed in part, concluding that section 57.105(7) required that Einath be awarded attorney's fees. The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District, holding that section 57.105(7) did not apply to the attorney's fee provision in this case. View "Levy v. Levy" on Justia Law