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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the family court denying Mother’s motion to relocate with the parties’ four minor children from Rhode Island to Australia, holding that the hearing justice did not overlook or misconceive material evidence in reaching his decision, nor were his factual findings clearly wrong. After a hearing on Mother’s motion, the hearing justice concluded that relocation would not be in the children’s best interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no reason to disturb the ruling of the hearing justice that relocation of the minor children to Australia would not be in their best interests. View "Ainsworth v. Ainsworth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part a dispositional order in a child abuse and neglect proceeding that awarded Mother custody of the parties’ child, with supervised visitation rights for Father. On appeal, Father argued that the circuit court erred in adjudicating him on the abuse and neglect petition and challenged the circuit court’s decision to place custody of the parties’ child with Mother and the denial of his motion to change custody. The Supreme Court summarily affirmed as to all issues raised by Father, except for one issue, holding that the circuit court erred in granting Mother custody and dismissing the case. The Court remanded that part of the dispositional order awarding Mother custody of the child with instructions for the circuit court to consider whether it should be modified to include provisions for protective supervision of the child by the South Dakota Department of Social Services under S.D. Codified Laws 26-8A-22 and/or for a protection order under S.D. Codified Laws 26-7A-107. View "In re M.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the district court’s denial of Father’s motion to increase his parenting time to every other week, holding that Father’s proposed modification was a de facto motion to modify physical custody, and therefore, the endangerment standard applied. Father had parenting time every other weekend with his minor child, and, during summer months, the parties alternated weeks with the child. When Father brought a motion to expand the alternating week schedule to the entire year the district court treated the motion as a motion to modify physical custody. The court applied the endangerment standard in Minn. Stat. 518.18(d)(iv) and, finding that Father did not present a prima facie case of endangerment, denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Father’s motion was no a motion to modify custody. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Father’s motion was a substantial change that would modify the parties’ custody arrangement. View "Christensen v. Healey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the district court terminating Father’s parental rights to his minor children, X.B. and I.B. On appeal, Father argued that the district court abused its discretion in determining that he did not successfully complete his treatment plan and in concluding that the conduct or condition rendering him unfit was unlikely to change within a reasonable time. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Father failed successfully to complete an appropriate treatment plan and did not err in concluding that Father’s conduct or condition rendering him unfit to parent was unlikely to change within a reasonable amount of time. View "In re X.B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant, after a jury trial, of domestic violence assault and violating a condition of release, holding that certain errors in the jury instructions constituted obvious error. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred by failing fully to instruct the jury on the State’s burden to disprove the statutory justifications Defendant produced in defense of the charges or on the consequences of the State’s failure to meet that burden. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed that the trial court’s instructions were deficient, holding that the errors in the jury instructions were highly prejudicial, tending to produce manifest injustice. View "State v. Villacci" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the district court’s judgment terminating Mother’s parental rights to her child. On appeal, Mother argued that the district court erred in determining that the termination of her parental rights was in the child’s best interest when the child was placed in a permanency guardianship with his paternal grandparents and Father’s parental rights were not terminated. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that the court did not err or abuse its discretion in finding unfitness and determining that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest, despite the establishment of a permanency guardianship and Father’s retention of his parental rights. View "In re Child of Emily K." on Justia Law

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In a discretionary appeal, at issue before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was whether the high income child support guidelines found at Pa.R.C.P. 1910.16-3.1 inherently accounted for the reasonable needs of the children such that any discrete analysis of those needs by a fact-finder was improper. The Court also examined whether a voluntary contribution to an irrevocable non-grantor trust for the benefit of the children was an appropriate factor for a court to consider for purposes of deviating from the guidelines amount of child support under Pa.R.C.P. 1910.16-5(b). Furthermore, the Court considered the propriety of an award of attorney’s fees to the obligee in this case. The Court concluded: (1) Rule 1910.16-3.1 did not render independent examination of the reasonable needs of the children by the fact-finder improper in high income cases; (2) a voluntary contribution to an irrevocable non-grantor trust for the benefit of the children was an inappropriate factor to consider for deviation purposes under Rule 1910.16-5(b); and (3) the obligee is not entitled to an award of attorney’s fees in this case. View "Hanrahan v. Bakker" on Justia Law

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The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (the Department) appealed a Court of Appeals decision to reverse the district court’s termination of Father’s parental rights with regard to Child. Mother and Father reported that Father had been standing and rocking Child when he accidentally dropped her on the carpet. Child was in critical condition, having sustained multiple fractures, including twenty-three rib fractures and four skull fractures in various stages of healing, facial bruising, liver lacerations, brain bleeding, and a possible detached retina. Doctors determined that the “volume, distribution, and severity of [Child’s] injuries [were] not consistent with a short fall in the home” and instead evidenced multiple incidents of blunt force trauma to Child’s head and body. Child was severely physically and mentally impaired as a result of the injuries. The Court of Appeals concluded that the Department failed to make reasonable efforts to assist Father in remedying the conditions and causes of neglect and abuse that rendered Father unable to properly care for Child. The New Mexico Supreme Court granted certiorari to review whether the district court’s determination that the Department made reasonable efforts to assist Father was supported by substantial evidence. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals opinion and affirmed the district court order terminating Father’s parental rights. View "New Mexico ex rel. CYFD v. Keon H." on Justia Law

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Fourteen-year-old E.A. and her eleven-year old sister, M.A. (together minors or children) had been living in what the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (Agency) described as "deplorable" conditions. Minors, both United States citizens, were living with their parents in Tijuana in an abandoned home with no electricity, no potable water, and with cockroaches crawling near minors' bed. The children had not been to school for over a year. They looked anorexic because J.A. (Mother) and Z.A. (Father) (together parents) fed them only one meal a day. When ruling in dependency proceedings, "'the welfare of the minor is the paramount concern of the court.'" At the time of the dispositive hearing in this case, there was no evidence that the minors' living conditions had changed. However, misinterpreting Welfare and Institutions Code section 300(g), and misapplying Allen M. v. Superior Court (1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 1069, the juvenile court dismissed the dependency petitions. The minors appealed. The Agency conceded court erred, but claimed the Court of Appeal should affirm because the errors were harmless. The Court of Appeal concluded the court's errors were prejudicial and, therefore, reversed with directions to deny the Agency's motion to dismiss the petitions. View "In re E.A." on Justia Law

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A trial court, after the abatement of a divorce action, may remedy a violation of the statutory injunction imposed by Tenn. Code Ann. 36-4-106(d)(2), which prohibits parties after a divorce complaint is served from changing the beneficiary on any life insurance policy that names either party as the beneficiary, by considering the equities of the parties. After suing Bryan Olson for divorce, Jessica Olson changed the beneficiary on her life insurance policy from Bryan to her mother, Rose Coleman. After Jessica died, Rose collected the life insurance benefits. Rose then sued Bryan for grandparent visitation. Bryan responded that he did not oppose visitation and countersued to recover the life insurance benefits. The trial court (1) awarded the insurance benefits to the Olsons’ child, finding that Jessica had intended to substitute the child as the beneficiary, and (2) awarded Rose grandparent visitation. The court of appeals (1) awarded Bryan the life insurance benefits based on Jessica’s violation of the statutory injunction, and (2) reversed the visitation award. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded, holding (1) the Olsons’ divorce action abated when Jessica died, and the statutory injunction Jessica violated became ineffective; and (2) Rose was not entitled to court-ordered grandparent visitation absent Bryan’s opposition to visitation. View "Coleman v. Olson" on Justia Law