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Michele and Roger Latham divorced in 2016. In 2017, Michele filed a petition for contempt against Roger, claiming that he had failed to comply with the divorce judgment. After a hearing, the chancellor found Roger in constructive criminal contempt for failing to comply with several terms of the divorce judgment. Roger appealed, arguing that the chancellor erred because he did not recuse himself before finding Roger in constructive criminal contempt. Because Roger raised the argument for the first time on appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court considered it waived. Accordingly, the chancellor’s judgment was affirmed. View "Latham v. Latham" on Justia Law

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Brent and Tracy Williams were granted an irreconcilable-differences divorce, and the chancellor resolved the issues upon which the parties could not agree. At issue in the direct appeal was: (1) whether the chancellor erred by not providing Tracy a set visitation schedule with their teenage son; (2) whether the chancellor erred in requiring Tracy to pay child support; (3) whether the chancellor erred in the valuation of the Williams’s business interests; and (4) whether the chancellor erred in finding an airplane and a boat to be marital property. On cross-appeal, the issue was whether the chancellor erred by not ordering Tracy to make monthly payments to Brent on his $1 million judgment award. Finding no merit to the assignments of error on appeal or cross-appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the chancery court. View "Williams v. Williams" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated a potion of the court of appeals’ opinion and affirmed the family court’s order giving Father final legal decision-making authority over certain issues regarding the parties' child, holding that the words “final” and “sole” have different meanings in the context of a family court’s award of joint legal decision-making that gives one parent final legal decision-making authority over certain matters. The court of appeals determined that an award of joint legal decision-making that gives authority to one parent is, in essence, an award of sole legal decision-making. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that joint legal decision-making with final decision-making authority and sole legal decision-making authority are separate and distinct categories. View "Nicaise v. Sundaram" on Justia Law

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After ex-wife filed a civil action alleging that ex-husband siphoned some of the community assets that were subject to a stipulated judgment, ex-husband successfully demurred and obtained a judgment of dismissal against ex-wife's civil action. Ex-husband then moved in the family court under the stipulated judgment's attorney fees provision to recover fees and costs he incurred in connection with the civil action. The Court of Appeal affirmed the family law court's award of fees and costs, holding that the attorney fees provision in the stipulated judgment encompassed these fees and costs because of its broad language, particularly, the phrase "in connection therewith." The court also held that the family law court did not abuse its discretion in deeming ex-husband the prevailing party because he obtained a judgment of dismissal against ex-wife's civil suit thereby achieving his litigation objectives, which was the applicable standard. Finally, the court held that the family law court did not abuse its discretion in awarding $90,000 in attorney fees and costs, and finding that counsel's hourly rates and number of charged hours were reasonable. View "Pont v. Pont" on Justia Law

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Gaye Swanson appealed a judgment dividing marital property between her and her former husband, Roy Swanson. On appeal, Gaye Swanson contends the district court erred by inequitably dividing the marital estate, by not considering Roy Swanson's fault in the deterioration of the marriage and the parties' finances, and in finding that she, rather than her children, owned property included in the marital estate. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court's findings on division of property were not clearly erroneous and affirmed the judgment. View "Swanson v. Swanson" on Justia Law

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S.E.L. appealed dismissal of his action seeking to adjudicate the paternity of the child, J.J.M. The child was born to biological mother J.A.P. Shortly after the child's birth, J.A.P. and J.M. executed an acknowledgment of paternity, claiming J.M. was the child's father. S.E.L. filed a complaint challenging paternity, alleging the paternity acknowledgment was executed based on fraud and deceit, and requesting the court order genetic testing and declare he was the child's father. S.E.L. filed an affidavit in support of his complaint, stating he was in a sexual relationship with J.A.P. in Montana during the period of conception, J.A.P. moved to North Dakota after the child was conceived and entered into a relationship with J.M., J.A.P. never informed S.E.L. she was pregnant, and he learned about the child in the fall of 2015. He stated he attempted to establish paternity by filing paperwork with the Child Support Enforcement Division in Montana, but he learned that J.M. signed an acknowledgment of paternity in 2014. S.E.L. admitted it had been more than two years since the acknowledgment of paternity was signed, but he claimed the acknowledgment was based on fraud and deceit and should be declared void. S.E.L. also alleged the child had been removed from J.A.P. and J.M.'s care and placed in a foster home in February 2016, J.A.P. was to be released from jail in Nevada in August 2016, and J.M. was currently incarcerated in North Dakota. After a hearing, the district court ordered S.E.L.'s action be dismissed. The court found J.A.P. and J.M. were in default. The court held S.E.L. commenced the proceeding more than two years after the effective date of the paternity acknowledgment, challenges to an acknowledgment of paternity had to be commenced within two years after the effective date of the acknowledgment under N.D.C.C. 14-20-44(2), and S.E.L. was not permitted to challenge the acknowledgment because his action was untimely. The court ruled all other issues pending before the court were moot and required no further adjudication because the matter was dismissed. Judgment was entered. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed dismissal. View "S.E.L. v. J.A.P." on Justia Law

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Wayne Helbling appealed an amended judgment providing payment terms and security for his remaining obligations to Janet Helbling under their original divorce judgment. After review of that judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in concluding the parties had not modified the divorce settlement agreement and had not entered into an oral agreement to amend the judgment. Furthermore, the Court concluded the trial court did not err by failing to find Janet was estopped from demanding payment of the remaining balance and did not err in entering the amended judgment containing an amortization schedule to pay his remaining obligations over a ten-year period with interest. View "Helbling v. Helbling" on Justia Law

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Lee Cody appealed a divorce judgment that distributed the parties' property and debts. District courts have broad discretion in deciding evidentiary matters, including whether to admit telephonic testimony. Interlocutory orders generally are not appealable and may be revised or reconsidered any time before the final order or judgment is entered. Claims for ineffective assistance of counsel have not been extended to civil actions for divorce. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the trial court record supported the district court's denial of his request to appear telephonically at trial and the court did not err when it clarified its opinion before the final judgment. Furthermore, the Court concluded his issue claiming ineffective assistance of trial counsel was without merit because this type of claim did not extend to divorce actions. View "Cody v. Cody" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a German citizen, sought the return of his children from the United States to Switzerland under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Respondent, a French citizen who moved with the children from Switzerland to Georgia, opposed the children's return. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the petition to return the children to Switzerland and held that, although petitioner established that the children's habitual residence at the time of removal was Switzerland, he failed to demonstrate that respondent's removal of the children violated his custody rights under Swiss law. In this case, the divorce judgment constituted a decision of the Swiss court and under the divorce judgment, respondent had the sole rights of custody as they pertained to determining whether to move the children to the United States. View "Pfeiffer v. Bachotet" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court divorcing Husband and Wife, holding that the court did not err by adopting Wife’s proposed judgment and did not err in its classification of marital property and the determination of Husband’s income. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court’s order clearly reflected its independent judgment and was fully supported by competent evidence in the record; (2) the court’s allocation of the parties’ marital assets was without error; and (3) the trial court’s determination of Husband’s income was supported by sufficient, competent record evidence. View "Cashman v. Robertson" on Justia Law