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The question this case presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s review was whether the trial court's order declaring M.A.S. eligible for adoption without the biological father's consent, pursuant to Okla. Stat. tit. 10, sec. 7505-4.2(B)(1) and (H)(2011), was supported by clear and convincing evidence. The child’s stepfather filed an application to adopt M.A.S. without the biological father’s consent. In the application, the stepfather alleged that that Father had not substantially complied with the court's child-support order and that Father had failed to maintain a substantial and positive relationship with M.A.S. Because of this, the stepfather asserted father's consent was not required. In its order, the trial court acknowledged “there may have been some obstacles interposed to make maintaining such a relationship difficult but this court established parameters whereby visitation could occur and the Respondent / Natural Father has not taken advantage of those opportunities, which conduct this court finds to be wilful. Therefore, the Petitioner's application for an order declaring this child to be eligible for adoption without the consent of the Natural Father is sustained.” The Supreme Court found that the trial court proceedings were “extremely unusual:” no evidentiary hearing was held concerning the application for adoption without consent or the child's best interests; and thus, no evidentiary testimony was gathered concerning the father's ability or inability to comply with the court-ordered support obligation during the relevant period. Rather, the parties agreed that the trial judge's ruling would be based solely on the parties' stipulations and briefs. “That, it cannot do.” The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "In the Matter of the Adoption of M.A.S." on Justia Law

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In child custody cases where one parent seeks to remove and relocate a child to another country and no prior custody order exists to guide the trial judge as to whether the “real advantage” standard of Yannas v. Frondistou-Yannas, 395 Mass. 704 (1985), or the “best interests” standard articulated in Mason v. Coleman, 447 Mass. 177 (2006), should apply, the judge must first perform a functional analysis and then apply to the corresponding standard. The functional analysis may require a factual inquiry regarding the parties’ respective parenting responsibilities to determine whether the custody arrangement more closely approximates sole or shared custody. Lastly, are consideration of the parties’ and child’s respective interests, the judge must balance those factors to determine whether removal is in the best interests of the child. In the instant case, the Supreme Judicial Court held that there was no abuse of discretion with respect to the trial judge’s consideration and balancing of the interests at stake. View "Miller v. Miller" on Justia Law

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Termination of parental rights pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 17a-112(j)(3)(C) may not be based upon predictive harm. Parents appealed from the judgments of the trial court terminating their parental rights as to their two daughters after finding acts of parental commission or omission that denied the children the care necessary for the children’s physical or emotional well-being under section 17a-112(j)(3)(C). On appeal, Parental argued that the trial court improperly terminated their parental rights based on a finding of a predictive harm. The Supreme Court agreed but held that the court properly found that the statute was proven on the basis that one of the daughters had been harmed by Parents’s postremoval acts of parental commission or omission. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. View "In re Egypt E." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting Ruth Cohen’s motion to modify a modification order modifying the alimony provision of the divorce decree dissolving the marriage of Franklin and Ruth Cohen. Franklin moved to modify the alimony provision on the ground that his income had declined significantly. Ruth later moved to modify the modification order on the ground that Franklin’s income had substantially increased. The trial court granted the motion. Franklin appealed, raising four allegations of error. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Franklin’s allegations of error were unavailing. View "Cohen v. Cohen" on Justia Law

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Husband Randolph Wilson, Jr. petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for certiorari review of the decision of the Court of Civil Appeals affirming the Circuit Court's judgment denying his motion to modify his alimony obligations. The issue in this case reduced to what was the appropriate baseline for evaluating material changes in a party’s circumstances to justify the modification. Put differently, the Court addressed whether a party seeking a modification of periodic alimony had to show a material change since the last judgment or order addressing a claim for modification of such alimony, even if no such modification was granted in that judgment, or whether it was enough to show a material change in the parties' circumstances since the last judgment or order in which periodic alimony actually was awarded or modified. The husband cited Ex parte Boley, 392 So. 2d 840 (Ala. 1981), McInnish v. McInnish, 441 So. 2d 960 (Ala. Civ. App. 1983), and Kiefer v. Kiefer, 671 So. 2d 710, 711 (Ala. Civ. App. 1995), each of which addressed the standard for measuring modification of either alimony or child support by employing the same logic and rationale urged by the husband in the present case. The Court of Civil Appeal adopted the approach of Taylor v. Taylor, 640 So. 2d 971, 973 (Ala. Civ. App. 1994). Taylor stated that the party seeking modification of a periodic-alimony award must show "that a material change in the parties' circumstances has occurred since the trial court's last judgment or order." The Supreme Court concluded the application to this case of the principle articulated by the Court of Civil Appeals in Rowe v. Boley, 392 So. 2d 838, 840 (Ala. Civ. App. 1980), “embraced by this Court in Ex parte Boley,” and applied by the Court of Civil Appeals in McInnish to the issue of alimony modification was dictated by principles of equity. The Court therefore rejected the conclusion of the Court of Civil Appeals in the present case that Taylor had the "better-reasoned approach." View "Ex parte Randolph G. Wilson, Jr." on Justia Law

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Husband was raised in India and attended high school and college there. In 2009, he moved to Montreal, Canada to pursue a master’s degree in food science and engineering from McGill University. In 2011, Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. (employer) hired husband to be a research scientist, and brought him to Vermont on a temporary H-1B employment visa. In 2012, husband met wife, who was then residing in India. The couple married in India a short time later. Soon after the wedding, wife moved with husband to Vermont on a 4-H spouse-dependent visa; she has lived in Vermont ever since. In December 2015, while Wife was on a trip to India, husband filed for a no-fault divorce in Vermont. Upon her return, in March 2016, wife filed a complaint against husband for separate statutory spousal maintenance. The two proceedings were consolidated. Wife appealed the denial of her motion to dismiss husband’s divorce complaint under the theory that husband’s nonimmigration visa status prevented him from being a Vermont domiciliary. In addition, wife argues that husband’s complaint should be dismissed because Indian law governed the dissolution of the parties’ marriage. The Vermont Supreme Court held that husband’s nonimmigration visa status is not an impediment to his establishing Vermont residency for purposes of filing a divorce action, and that the trial court properly denied wife’s motion to dismiss. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Maghu v. Singh" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Vermont Supreme Court's review centered on whether a court could terminate parents’ parental rights following a hearing in which, over an objection, the State was represented by the same lawyer who had previously represented the children in the same matter. Mother and father separately appealed the court’s order terminating their parental rights with respect to three of their daughters. The Supreme Court did not address many of their challenges to the trial court’s findings and conclusions because the Court concluded a conflict of interest by the State’s counsel compromised the proceedings. Accordingly, the case was reversed and remanded for a new hearing. View "In re L.H., L.H. and L.H., Juveniles" on Justia Law

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A mother moved to modify an existing custody arrangement with her ex-husband. She asked that she be given primary custody of their daughter and that the ex­ husband’s visitation rights and legal custody over her son (the ex-husband’s stepson) be terminated. The trial court denied her motion and found that, given the recent intervention of the stepson’s biological father, the ex-husband’s obligation to pay child support was terminated. The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the modification motion with regard to the daughter. However, the legal intervention of a previously absent biological parent constituted a substantial change in circumstances as a matter of law, and accordingly the Court reversed the trial court’s denial of the modification motion for the son and remanded for best interests findings under AS 25.24.150(c). Finally, the Supreme Court held that a psychological parent’s child support obligation continues so long as that parent maintains some custody of the child, and reversed the trial court’s absolution of the ex-husband’s child support obligation. View "Moore v. McGillis" on Justia Law

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A mother appealed a superior court’s decision to modify a long-term domestic violence protective order against her ex-husband. The protective order was issued by a magistrate judge, based on his findings that the father had committed acts of domestic violence. But the superior court, during the parties’ subsequent and separate divorce and custody case, concluded that findings of domestic violence were not supported by the evidence. When modifying the protective order to accommodate a change in the parties’ living arrangements, the superior court also modified the order’s factual findings about domestic violence, noting its own conclusion that such findings were not justified. The mother argued the superior court erred by modifying the factual findings of domestic violence underlying an unappealed final order. The Alaska Supreme Court agreed the superior court lacked the authority to modify the factual findings on which the order was based. As such, the Supreme COurt vacated that aspect of the protective order. View "Ruerup v. Ruerup" on Justia Law

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Patrick Gray and Felecia Hannah Dotch petitioned the Chancery Court to allow Gray to adopt D.D.H. without terminating Dotch’s parental rights. Dotch and Gray have never been married, and only Dotch is listed on D.D.H.’s birth certificate. Near the time of D.D.H.’s conception, however, Dotch and Gray were in a romantic relationship, and both believed that Gray was D.D.H.’s father. Early in her life, D.D.H. lived with Gray and Gray’s mother. When D.D.H. was old enough to attend school, she began to live with Dotch. During this time, Gray exercised visitation with D.D.H. and continued to provide financial support to her. More than a decade after D.D.H’s birth, Gray discovered that he was not her biological father. After this, Gray continued to visit and support D.D.H. The identity of D.D.H.’s biological father was not known. Gray and Dotch now both are married to other people. After consideration, the chancellor denied the petition. Aggrieved, Gray and Dotch appealed, arguing that their due-process and equal-protection rights were infringed. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed: the chancellor erred, as a matter of law, in finding that Mississippi Code Sections 93-17-3(4) and 93-17-13(2) (Supp. 2017) barred the adoption. As D.D.H.’s adoption by Gray was not barred by statute, it was unnecessary for the Supreme Court to perform a constitutional analysis of Sections 93-17-3(4) and 93-17-13(2). View "In the Matter of the Adoption of the Child Described in the Petition: D.D.H." on Justia Law