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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed two separate judgments of the probate court granting the petitions of half-sisters’ maternal grandmother to terminate the fathers’ parental rights as part of the proceeding through which the grandmother sought to adopt the children, holding that the fathers were not deprived of due process and equal protection of the law when the court denied the fathers’ motions for an order requiring the provision of rehabilitation and reunification services. The judicial termination proceedings in these consolidated cases did not involve the Department of Health and Human Services. The fathers argued that they were constitutionally entitled to the services that are ordinarily provided in a title 22 child protection action after a court has found abuse or neglect or has placed a child in foster care under the supervision of the Department. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the probate court (1) did not violate the fathers’ constitutional rights by denying the fathers’ motions for orders of rehabilitation and reunification services; and (2) did not err in determining that each father’s parental rights should be terminated. View "In re Adoption of Riahleigh M." on Justia Law

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N.L. was born in August 2014. In January 2016, she was taken into state custody because both parents were using illicit substances, father was facing jail time on a charge alleging domestic abuse against mother, and mother was unable to care for the child due to her drug addiction and homelessness. N.L. spent several months in foster care. A conditional custody order (CCO) returned N.L. to mother’s care after mother completed a substance-abuse program, and they resided for several months in a residential treatment program at Lund Family Center. The CCO remained in effect until February 27, 2017, when the Department for Children and Families (DCF) closed the case. The underlying case was initiated based on an incident that occurred in August 2017, at which time DCF was investigating reports of drug use and domestic violence in the home. The family division of the superior court granted a petition to terminate mother’s parental rights to her child, N.L., but denied the petition concerning father. Mother appealed the termination of her parental rights, and N.L. appealed the court’s decision not to terminate father’s parental rights. After careful review of the trial court record, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed termination of mother’s parental rights and reversed the court’s order declining to terminate father’s parental rights. The matter was remanded for the limited purpose of directing the family division to grant the petition to terminate father’s parental rights. View "In re N.L." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Montana district court temporarily suspending a previously imposed parenting plan for L.G.B., a minor child, holding that the district court did not erroneously grant and maintain a temporary emergency order pursuant to Mont. Code Ann. 40-4-220(2)(a)(ii) without an adequate showing and finding of changed circumstances under Mont. Code Ann. 40-4-219(1) and -220(1). Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the district court (1) did not erroneously modify the parties’ prior parenting plan without a sufficient finding of changed circumstances as required by section 40-4-219(1); (2) did not erroneously limit Mother to supervised visitation without making a sufficient finding under section 40-4-218(2); (3) did not erroneously fail to refer this matter to Family Court Services in violation of the then-governing local rule; and (4) did not abuse its discretion in precluding admission of a psychological evaluation report authored by a non-testifying mental health professional. View "In re Marriage of Bessette" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother’s rights to her three children, holding that the evidence clearly and convincingly established that Mother’s parental rights should be terminated. The district court found that the State presented clear and convincing evidence proving the statutory grounds for termination of Mother’s parental rights under both Wyo. Stat. Ann. 14-2-309(a)(iii) and (v). On appeal, Mother challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to establish the statutory requirements for termination of her parental rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the record supported the district court’s finding that each of the requirements for termination was proven by clear and convincing evidence. View "Swenson v. State, Department of Family Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order terminating Mother’s parental rights to her two children, holding that there was clear and convincing evidence to support the jury’s finding that Mother’s parental rights should be terminated. During the termination proceedings, Mother admitted that her children were in foster care for more than fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months. The Supreme Court held (1) the State presented clear and convincing evidence that, at the time of the trial in this case, Mother was not able to meet her children’s physical, mental, or emotional needs; and (2) the State met its burden of proving that Mother was unfit to have custody or control of the children. View "Gillen v. State, Department of Family Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the probate court denying the petition filed by Michael Zani and Peter Zani to be appointed co-guardians of Patricia S., their mother and an incapacitated adult, and instead appointing Karin Beaster and Nancy Carter as co-guardians, holding that Beaster and Carter had not fulfilled the pretrial filing requirements of Me. Rev. Stat. 18-A, 5-303(a). The probate court appointed Beaster and Carter as co-guardians of Patricia even though Beaster and Carter had not filed petitions to be appointed. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that the superior court erred by appointing Beaster and Carter when they had not complied with the requirements applicable to a guardianship petition under section 5-303(a). View "In re Patricia S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the probate court terminating the parental rights of Mother and Father pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 18-A, 9-204(a)-(b) and Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(2), (B)(2)(a) and (B)(2)(b)(ii), holding that the probate court did not err or abuse its discretion. Specifically, the Court held (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the probate court’s findings that Mother and Father were parentally unfit and that termination of their parental rights was in the best interest of the child; and (2) Father failed to demonstrate, and the record did not reveal, any error in the probate court’s handling of objections that were raised to the maternal grandmother’s testimony. View "In re Adoption of Ivan M." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal involving a “bridge order” entered after the adjudication of five children under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(a), who had been in Mother’s sole legal and physical custody, giving Father legal and physical custody, holding that bridge orders are not final for purposes of Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-1902. A bridge order addresses solely matters of legal and physical custody and parenting time when a juvenile has been placed by the juvenile court with a legal parent. The bridge order at issue in this case was entered after five children, who had been in Mother’s legal and physical custody, were adjudicated under section 43-247(3)(a). Two of these children were placed with Father during the juvenile proceedings, and the bridge order gave Father legal and physical custody, with substantial visitation by Mother. Mother appealed, arguing that the bridge order was inappropriate under the circumstances. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, holding that a bridge order is not final for purposes of section 25-1902. View "In re Interest of Kamille C." on Justia Law

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In this divorce proceeding involving disputes over the characterization of community property assets, the Court of Appeal held that the trial court did not err by adopting husband's tracing, which was adequate and satisfied his burden of proving his separate property. The court also held that the trial court's findings that husband did not breach fiduciary duties when he used community property funds to establish an irrevocable life insurance trust for the benefit of the children were supported by substantial evidence. The court held that the trial court abused its discretion when it retrospectively modified 2014 pendente lite child and spousal support, because it based the modification on the parties' 2013 tax returns, rather than their 2014 tax returns, which were then available. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and remanded for recalculation of the awards and the spousal support award. View "Marriage of Ciprari" on Justia Law

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M.F., the son of Nicole W. and Stephen C., appealed orders at the 12-month review hearing under Welfare & Institutions Code section 366.21 (f) directing the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency to extend the reunification period for an additional six-month period and setting the 18-month review hearing more than 23 months from the date he first entered foster care. M.F. challenged the juvenile court's finding that Agency did not provide reasonable services to his father. He also contended the juvenile court lacked authority to order continued services beyond the 18-month review date absent special circumstances not present here. The Court of Appeal concluded there was substantial evidence to support the juvenile court's finding that reasonable services were not provided or offered to the parent, that the juvenile court was authorized to extend reunification services up to the 24-month review date if the court determined reasonable services were not provided or offered to the parent, and the juvenile court was not required to consider the need for a continuance under section 352 when extending services. View "In re M.F." on Justia Law