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Juvenile G.B., born in June 2017, appealed a trial court’s order denying his petition to terminate mother’s parental rights and directing the Department for Children and Families (DCF) to prepare a new disposition plan for mother. The Vermont Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of a final judgment. In October 2017, the court held a merits hearing in G.B.’s case. The court found that G.B. was a child in need of care or supervision (CHINS) based on parents’ mental-health issues, substance abuse, failure to consistently engage in parent-child contact, and father’s criminal history. Father did not appear at the hearing; mother was briefly present. The court considered the best-interests factors as to each parent, then granted the petition to terminate father’s rights, concluding that he had not developed a relationship with G.B. and would not be able to assume parental duties within a reasonable period of time. As to mother, the court acknowledged that mother’s relapse resulted in her not being able to play a constructive role in G.B.’s life for seventeen months. The court concluded, however, that mother was ready, willing, and able to resume a constructive role in G.B.’s life and that she “should be given the opportunity over the next six months to reunify with G.B.” Therefore, the court denied the petition to terminate mother’s rights. The court explained that the case was “still at disposition” and directed DCF to prepare a new disposition plan in light of the court’s decision. G.B. appealed the denial to terminate mother’s rights. To the Supreme Court, G.B. argued the trial court failed to view the question of whether mother would be able to parent within a reasonable period of time from the perspective of the juvenile. The Supreme Court determined the order G.B. sought to appeal in this case—the denial of the petition to terminate mother’s rights—was not final because it was neither a final judgment nor a disposition order. The order denying termination of mother’s rights did not finally resolve the status of mother’s parental rights and therefore was not a final judgment. View "In re G.B., Juvenile" on Justia Law

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Gordon Taylor and Tamra Faris were married in 1973. For most of their marriage, they lived in Juneau, Alaska. Faris spent her entire career working for the federal government, earning a Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) pension. In 2004 Faris accepted a promotion and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. She moved to Portland, Oregon, also for work reasons, in 2006 and at the time of this decision, resided there. She retired from her career with the federal government in 2010. In 2013 Taylor filed for divorce. He and Faris reached a settlement agreement in February 2014 and the court entered a divorce decree at that time. Three days later, however, Faris sought to withdraw distribution of property from that agreement. Although Faris had moved to a different state several years prior, the superior court determined the couple’s date of separation was in 2014. The court also recaptured pension payments the two received after this date. Faris appealed, arguing that these and various other aspects of the superior court’s property division were erroneous. The Alaska Supreme Court determined the superior court neither erred nor abused its discretion in its determination of the date of separation. And most of the wife’s other challenges to the property division were without merit. But the Supreme Court reversed the superior court’s failure to make specific factual findings in its recapture analysis. View "Faris v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the rulings of the district court accepting and exercising jurisdiction in these five cases involving the continuation of child in need of care (CINC) proceedings, holding that the Kansas court properly exercised jurisdiction and did not violate Mother's due process rights. The proceedings in this case involved five of Mother's six children. Acting under the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, a California court transferred these five cases to a Kansas court to continue child in need of care proceedings. The district court ultimately found Mother unfit and that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the children's best interests. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Kansas district court did not abuse its discretion in exercising jurisdiction over the CINC proceedings; and (2) the district court did not violate Mother's constitutional procedural due process rights when it failed to conduct a permanency hearing within thirty days of finding that reintegration of the family with Mother did not remain a viable alternative. View "In re A.A.-F." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the order of the district court modifying the parenting plan agreed to by Anne VanSkiver and Todd VanSkiver and approved by the district court, holding that the order of modification was warranted by a material change in circumstances, and the court did not improperly delegate its authority to determine parenting time. When the marriage between the parties was dissolved Anne was granted legal and physical custody of the parties' two minor children, subject to the parenting plan at issue. Anne later moved to modify and suspend Todd's parenting time pending family therapy. The district court modified the parenting plan but did not order family therapy. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified for clarity, holding (1) the district court's order suspended Todd's parenting time entirely, and the court did not abuse its discretion in this regard; and (2) Anne showed a material change in circumstances affecting the best interests of the children, and the district court did not improperly delegate to the minor children the right to determine whether to exercise parenting time. View "VanSkiver v. VanSkiver" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of dissolution entered by the district court dissolving the marriage of Marissa Blank to Caleb Blank and awarding joint legal and physical custody of the parties' two minor children, holding that the district court did not err in awarding joint physical custody. Specifically, the Court held (1) Marissa had reasonable notice that joint custody was at issue during the trial, had an opportunity to be heard on the issue of joint custody during the trial, and presented evidence on the issue of joint custody during the trial, and therefore, the district court did not err in considering joint physical custody where neither party made such a request prior to trial and the court did not provide notice of its consideration; (2) the court did not err in determining that the case did not involve domestic abuse; and (3) the court did not abuse its discretion in determining that joint custody was in the children's best interests. View "Blank v. Blank" on Justia Law

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Sarah Tarver appealed a district court judgment dividing her and Daniel Tarver’s marital estate and establishing spousal and child support. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in its determination of spousal support. Therefore, the Court reversed and remanded on the issue of spousal support. View "Tarver v. Tarver" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her child, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion in determining that Mother was unfit and that the termination of her parental rights was in the child's best interest. On appeal, Mother argued, among other things, that the intervention of the Governor's office in the decision of the Department of Health and Human Services to cancel or delay her trial placement violated her equal protection and due process rights. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) the court did not commit obvious error or any error of fact or law, whether constitutional or statutory in dimension, when it entered its judgment seven months after the Department's decision on the trial placement; (2) the court did not err in finding that Mother was unable to protect the child from jeopardy and those circumstances were unlikely to change within a time reasonably calculated to meet the child's needs; and (3) the court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the termination of Mother's parental rights was in the best interest of the child. View "In re Child of Lacy H." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment entered by the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her child, holding, among other things, that the court did not err in finding that Mother was unfit and that the termination of Mother's parental rights was in the child's best interest. After a termination hearing, the district court terminated Mother's parental rights pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i), (ii), (iv). Mother appealed, arguing, among other things, that the district court erred in finding that she received proper notice of the trial on the termination petition. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the court did not err in holding a trial and entering a judgment upon finding that service was adequate; (2) under the circumstances, the court did not err in finding that the Department of Health and Human Services had complied with its statutory rehabilitation and reunification obligations; and (3) the court did not err in finding three bases of unfitness and in determining that the termination of Mother's parental rights was in the best interest of the child. View "In re Child of Haley L." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court entering a protection from harassment order against Defendant on the complaint of Jane Doe, holding that the court did not err in issuing the protection from harassment order. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in consolidating the hearing on Defendant's motion to dissolve the temporary protection from harassment order and the final hearing on Doe's complaint; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in issuing a scheduling order that limited the time for the consolidated hearing to two hours; and (3) the district court did not err in finding credible the testimony of two witnesses and in finding that Defendant intentionally sought to harass Doe. View "Doe v. Plourde" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Father's parental rights to his children pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii), holding that the court did not impermissibly consider Father's incarceration in reaching its parental unfitness determination and that Father failed properly to raise his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel at the termination hearing. Specifically, the Court held (1) the lower court's findings were supported by competent record evidence and, given these findings, the court did not err in finding that Father was unfit; and (2) because Father raised his ineffective representation claim on direct appeal without submitting an affidavit, Father's ineffective representation claim must be denied. View "In re Children of Matthew G." on Justia Law