Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in part and remanded in part a judgment awarding parental rights and responsibilities entered in the district court as to Father's four children with Mother, holding that the court's judgment failed to include a required statement.The judgment in this case granted Mother sole parental rights and responsibilities and primary physical residence and denied Father rights of parent-child contact. The Supreme Court held (1) the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Father rights of parent-child contact, and any other error was harmless; and (2) the court's judgment failed to include a required statement governing parental access to records relating to the children. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the matter for the district court to amend the order. View "Mayberry v. Janosky" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court terminating Parents' parental rights pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 17a-112(j), holding that Parents were not entitled to relief on their three unpreserved constitutional claims relating to the virtual nature of the termination of parental rights trial.On appeal, Parents argued (1) the trial court violated their rights under Conn. Const. art. I, 10 and art. V, 1 by conducting the termination trial virtually rather than in person; (2) the trial court violated their constitutional right to due process by denying them the right to physically confront and cross-examine the witnesses against them at the virtual trial; and (3) the constitutional rights were violated when the trial court did not provide them with their own exclusive devices and internet connection to participate both visually and by audio in the trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Parents were not entitled to relief on their unpreserved claims of error. View "In re Vada V." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court, which vested permanent legal guardianship of Mother's minor child in a relative pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-129(j)(6), holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.On appeal, Mother argued that the trial court denied her right to due process by failing to ensure that she appeared by two-way video technology at a virtual trial. Alternatively, Mother asked the Court to adopt a procedural rule requiring that a trial court ensure that the parties appear by two-way videoconferencing technology or waive the right to do so before the court conducts a virtual trial in a child protection case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the record was inadequate to review Mother's first unpreserved claim; and (2) this Court declines Mother's invitation to invoke its supervisory authority to create such a rule. View "In re Aisjaha N." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the appellate court insofar as that court reversed the trial court's rulings on Parents' motions for posttermination visitation and affirmed the judgment insofar as the appellate court upheld the trial court's termination of Parent's parental rights, holding that the trial court correctly articulated the proper standard.The appellate court reversed the trial court's denial of Parents' posttermination visitation motions on the ground that the trial court applied an incorrect legal standard in considering these motions. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the appellate court (1) correctly concluded that Mother failed to establish that there exists a fundamental right under the Connecticut Constitution to an in-person termination of parental rights trial; and (2) improperly reversed the trial court's rulings on Parents' motions for failing to comply with the standard set forth in In re Ava W., 248 A.3d 675 (Conn. 2020), for deciding motions for posttermination visitation. View "In re Annessa J." on Justia Law

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Appellant Marie Yammine, as former wife and primary beneficiary of a two million dollar life insurance policy issued by Respondent ReliaStar Life Insurance Company to her former husband, Dr. Jean Bernard, appealed a declaratory judgment finding the contingent beneficiary, Appellee Roland Ghoussoub, was entitled to the policy's death benefit. Dr. Bernard died after the trial court granted the parties' divorce but prior to final judgment on all issues. The trial court declared Yammine and Bernard were divorced and that 15 O.S.2011 § 178(A) operated to revoke her beneficiary designation to the death benefits. Whether Oklahoma's revocation-upon-divorce statute, 15 O.S.2011 § 178(A), applied when one party dies after the granting of the divorce but prior to final judgment on all issues, was a matter of first impression for the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The Court concluded Section 178(A) required a final judgment on all issues, and that the trial court erred by interpreting 15 O.S.2011 § 178(A) to revoke Yammine's beneficiary designation in Bernard's life insurance policy based on an order granting divorce when the final judgment on all issues remained pending at husband's death. The trial court's declaratory judgment was reversed, and this case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Ghoussoub v. Yammine" on Justia Law

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Patricia and Thomas married in 1989 and had twins in 1996. A judgment dissolving their marriage was entered in 2002. Thomas began representing himself. In 2005, the court deemed Thomas a vexatious litigant and issued an order prohibiting him from filing new motions or litigation when representing himself without first obtaining leave of the presiding judge (Code Civil Procedure 391.7). In 2018, the trial court reaffirmed its vexatious litigant finding and again imposed a prefiling order. Representing himself, Thomas appealed. His briefs contained “menacing” and “odious” language making “implicit threats" against members of the judiciary and attorneys. Thomas challenged those orders and rulings made years earlier.In 2020, the court of appeal declined to consider Thomas’s challenges to the long-final orders and warned Thomas that further “use of the appellate process to threaten” would “result in an order of sanctions.” The court upheld the 2018 vexatious litigant and prefiling orders. In 2021, Thomas filed seven requests to file new litigation, along with numerous other documents. The court determined the requests to file lacked merit and had “no basis or legitimate purpose.” The court of appeal denied a writ petition and notified Thomas it was considering dismissing the appeal as frivolous, giving him the opportunity to address possible sanctions. The court subsequently dismissed the appeal as “objectively and subjectively frivolous.” View "Marriage of Deal" on Justia Law

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The Colorado Supreme Court granted review in this case to consider whether a district court erred in dismissing a a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities (“APR”) filed by Steven Cook (“Stepfather”) for lack of standing. The Court reaffirmed that neither exclusive physical care nor parental consent was required for a nonparent to establish standing to petition for an APR under section 14-10-123(1)(c), C.R.S. (2021), of Colorado’s Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (“UDMA”). Thus, the Court vacated the district court’s order dismissing Stepfather’s APR petition and its award of attorney fees against Stepfather pursuant to section 13-17-102, C.R.S. (2021), and remanded for further proceedings. View "Parental Responsibilities of: E.K." on Justia Law

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Father appealed a sanctions order imposed by the family division enjoining him from submitting filings in this case unless the filing was signed by a licensed attorney or he first obtained permission from the court. The Vermont Supreme Court determined the trial court acted within its discretion in sanctioning father given his pattern of filing numerous motions that lacked factual or legal support, failing to adhere to procedural rules, and acting without good faith. The Court concluded, however, that the court’s order was overly broad in scope because it applied to all of father’s submissions to the court in this matter and did not clearly provide father with instructions on how to comply. Therefore, the case was remanded for the trial court to amend its sanctions decision accordingly. View "Fox v. Fox" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court applying the endangerment standard of the child-custody modification statute, Minn. Stat. 518.18(d)(iv), to a noncustodial parent's motion for joint legal custody of the parties' child based on their prior stipulation to apply the statutory best-interests standard set forth in Minn. Stat. 518.18(d)(i), holding that the district court erred.The noncustodial parent's modification motion in this case was expressly predicated on section 518.18(d)(i), which provides that the statutory best-interests standard set forth at Minn. Stat. 518.17 applies if the parties previously agreed in a court-approved writing to the application of that standard. The district court denied the motion for custody modification without holding an evidentiary hearing. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred by requiring the noncustodial parent to establish a prima facie case for a change in custody based on the statutory endangerment standard in section 518.18(d)(iv). View "Woolsey v. Woolsey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Mother's parental rights to her minor child, holding that the termination order was properly entered pursuant to Rules 52 and 53 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.The trial court entered an order terminating Mother's parental rights in her child based on an adjudication of grounds under N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(6) and (9) and a determination that it was in the child's best interests to terminate Mother's parental rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the order was supported by the presumption of regularity, which Mother failed to rebut, as well as an unchallenged finding of fact. View "In re E.D.H." on Justia Law