Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court in this divorce case awarding Husband all of the interest in his business and ordering him to pay Wife $100,000 to equalize the property distribution and allowing Wife to take the parties' child to church during Husband's visitation, holding that the judgment against the business was in error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion by assigning a value to Husband's business; (2) did not abuse its discretion by requiring Husband to make the equalization payment to Wife within 120 days of the divorce; (3) erred by awarding a judgment against Husband's business, a nonparty to the divorce proceeding; and (4) did not violate Husband's constitutional rights to parent or to freedom of religion by allowing Wife to take the child to church during Husband's visitation time. View "Snyder v. Snyder" on Justia Law

by
The Department of Children and Family Services filed a petition (Welfare and Institutions Code 300(b)(1) and (j)), alleging Deshawn’s and Clairessa’s history of substance abuse and current use of marijuana placed one-year-old Y.W., and one-month-old Y.G., at risk of serious physical harm. At the jurisdiction and disposition hearing, the juvenile court sustained the petition and declared the children. dependents of the court, removed them from parental custody, and ordered the parents to complete substance abuse and domestic violence programs and to have monitored visitation with the children. At a hearing to select a permanent plan, the juvenile court terminated their parental rights, finding that returning the children to the parents would be detrimental, that the parents had not maintained regular and consistent visitation and contact, and that the children were adoptable.Based on the parents’ allegation that the Department failed to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. 1901, the court of appeal conditionally affirm the orders terminating parental rights, with directions to ensure the Department complies with the inquiry and notice provisions of ICWA and related California law. Deshawn and Clairessa had each completed Judicial Council form ICWA-020, Parental Notification of Indian Status. Clairessa checked: “I have no Indian ancestry as far as I know.” Deshawn checked: “I am or may be a member of, or eligible for membership in, a federally recognized Indian tribe. View "In re Y.W." on Justia Law

by
In March 2020 LAPD officers responded to a call reporting “screaming, yelling, banging and slamming” at the family home. No one answered their initial requests to enter the residence. Ashley ultimately opened the door. The home was in disarray. The officers observed evidence of a domestic violence altercation. Two children in the home who were under age five were taken to the hospital. Blood and urine tests for both children were negative. Neither child had any marks or bruises that would indicate abuse or neglect. Ashley and Wesley were arrested for suspicion of injuring a child (Pen. Code 273a(a)), a charge that was not pursued. No domestic violence charges were filed.The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services filed a dependency petition (Welfare and Institutions Code section 300(a) (serious physical harm inflicted non-accidentally) and (b)(1) (failure to protect). At the jurisdiction hearing nine months later, the juvenile court sustained both counts, finding “there is a long history of these parents having some domestic violence issues.” The court declared the children dependents of the juvenile court and ordered continued supervision by the Department while the children remained in Ashley’s home. The court of appeal reversed. There was insufficient evidence to support a finding the children were at substantial risk of serious physical harm by the time of the jurisdiction hearing. View "In re Cole L." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the juvenile court's permanency order transferring sole legal custody of the child in this case to Father, holding that there was convincing evidence to show that the child could safely be transitioned to Mother's care at the time of the permanency hearing.The State initiated a child-in-need-of-assistance proceeding due to the parents' inability to coparent. At the time, Mother was the primary custodial parent. Mother participated in services to reunify with the child and showed progress, but the juvenile court determined it was not safe to return the child to Mother's home and entered a permanency order transferring sole legal custody of the child to Father. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was convincing evidence to show the child could safely be transitioned to Mother's care at the time of the permanency hearing. View "In re D.M." on Justia Law

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