by
John Doe I (“Father”) appealed a magistrate court’s order terminating his parental rights to Jane Doe I (“Child”). Father argued the court erred in concluding he neglected Child because Jane Doe (“Mother”) prevented Father from supporting or contacting Child. Father also argued the magistrate court, in analyzing the best interest of Child, impermissibly compared Father’s relationship to John Doe II (“Stepfather”) without considering Mother’s actions. Despite Mother’s unwillingness to provide her or Child’s contact information, the evidence demonstrated that Father had several opportunities to play a role in Child’s life, but his attempts to do so inevitably lost traction. Child’s relationship with Stepfather was only one factor that was considered by the magistrate court in determining that termination was in the best interest of Child. The magistrate court also considered that Father had not paid child support, or made a substantial effort to contact Child since 2012. The Idaho Supreme Court found it was appropriate for the magistrate court to consider these factors when it analyzed whether termination was in the best interest of Child, and affirmed that court's decision in all respects. View "Doe II v. Doe I" on Justia Law

by
The superior court granted joint legal and primary physical custody of a child to his maternal grandmother and step-grandfather. The child’s mother, who retained joint legal custody and visitation rights, appealed, arguing: (1) she was entitled to court-appointed counsel during the proceedings; (2) the order violated her Fourteenth Amendment right to direct the upbringing and education of her child; and (3) the court erred in its custody determination. After review, the Alaska Supreme Court found that because the mother provided no legal basis for her claim to court-appointed counsel, the trial court did not err in denying that request. Because the court applied the correct constitutional and legal standard for third-party custody, its factual findings were not clearly erroneous, and its exercise of discretion was not unreasonable, the Supreme Court affirmed the court’s order awarding joint legal and primary physical custody of the child to the grandparents. View "Dara v. Gish" on Justia Law

by
D.B. and K.S. petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for certiorari review of the Court of Civil Appeals' judgment affirming, without opinion, a custody-modification judgment awarding K.S.B. ("the mother") custody of her daughter ("the child"). D.B., the child's maternal grandfather, and K.S., the child's maternal stepgrandmother, petitioned for custody of the child after the mother telephoned the grandfather in May 2010 and asked him to come get the child because she was "being mean" to the child. The mother did not appear at the hearing on the grandparents' custody petition, and the juvenile court awarded custody of the child to the grandparents in August 2010. Based on the juvenile court's custody judgment in favor of the grandparents, in order to succeed in her request to modify custody, the mother was required to meet the well settled custody-modification standard set forth in Ex parte McLendon, 455 So. 2d 863 (Ala. 1984). The mother conceded the grandparents had taken good care of the child, and she expressed no concerns in the juvenile court regarding the grandparents as custodians of the child; the mother simply testified that she believed that she could take care of the child and love her just as well as the grandparents. The Supreme Court held Ex parte McLendon required more. The Court found the evidence failed to support the juvenile court's judgment modifying custody was "plainly and palpably wrong." The judgment of the Court of Civil Appeals affirming the juvenile court's judgment modifying custody of the child was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Ex parte D.B. and K.S." on Justia Law

by
Jane Doe II (“Grandmother”) raised her two young granddaughters, VG and CG. Grandmother met Jane Doe I (“Former Girlfriend”) soon after CG’s birth. Grandmother and Former Girlfriend were involved in a romantic relationship and moved to Idaho with the girls, where they all lived together for several months. Soon thereafter, Grandmother ended the relationship with Former Girlfriend. Former Girlfriend moved out of the home, but continued to care for the girls. Grandmother became legal guardian of both girls. In March 2013, Grandmother filed a petition to make Former Girlfriend a co-guardian because she thought it would ensure that the girls would remain together if something happened to her. About a year later, Grandmother and Former Girlfriend filed a joint petition to terminate the biological parents’ rights and co-adopt the girls. The written agreements to adopt that were prepared prior to the hearing were changed to reflect that Former Girlfriend would adopt CG and Grandmother would adopt VG. During the hearing on the matter, the petition to terminate the biological parents’ rights was granted, as were the separate adoptions. Police were called in to physically remove CG from Grandmother’s home; shortly thereafter, Former Girlfriend moved to terminate Grandmother’s guardianship. In late December 2016, Former Girlfriend filed a motion for summary judgment in this case seeking co-adoption of both girls and orders of guardianship or visitation based on the parties’ original petition for co-adoption. In response, Grandmother filed a motion to dismiss the petition, stating that she no longer wished to have the co-adoption go forward. The legal issues presented for the Idaho Supreme Court’s review of this matter were: (1) whether there was a basis for claiming legal error where a magistrate judge expresses a likely outcome of a motion, but does not actually hear the matter or enter an order; (2) whether an order vacating a final judgment is appealable under Idaho Appellate Rule 11(a); and (3) whether a guardian gave sufficient legal consent to an adoption. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, finding the trial court did not err in its decision with respect to the consent issue; with respect to the others, the Court determined it lacked jurisdiction for review. View "Jane Doe I v. Jane Doe II" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeal reversed the juvenile court's jurisdictional finding over the child under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b). The court held that the juvenile court's finding was not supported by substantial evidence where there was no evidence of past police raids, gang retaliation, nor shoot-outs in the home based on father's admitted gang membership and his possession of a firearm. Furthermore, the Department of Children and Family Services did not argue that evidence that one parent is a gang member, without more, can serve as a basis for taking jurisdiction of a child. View "In re C.V." on Justia Law

by
K.S., the mother of three minor children, appealed the termination of her parental rights. A petition to terminate her rights was filed after one day in June 2017, law enforcement and ambulance service was called to her residence; police found K.S. unconscious on the bathroom floor with a needle in her arm. Her extremities were blue and she was gasping for breath. It was alleged she was experiencing a drug overdose. Ward County Social Services moved the juvenile court to reopen the termination of parental rights proceeding for an evidentiary hearing regarding the overdose. K.S. opposed the motion. The court granted the motion because it had not yet issued a final order and the facts of the underlying incident may have a direct bearing on the matter. After a supplemental evidentiary hearing, the court entered an order terminating the parental rights of the three children. K.S. argued the juvenile court abused its discretion in granting a motion to reopen the record. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the court did not abuse its discretion in reopening the record for a supplemental hearing and affirmed. View "Interest of F.S., M.S., Jr., and M.S." on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeal vacated the juvenile court's jurisdictional finding over the child under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b), and his removal from mother's custody. The court held that the Department of Children and Family Services failed to meet its burden of proof to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that mother had failed to adequately supervise or protect the child; to provide him with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment; or to provide regular care for him. In this case, the juvenile court's finding that the child comes within the juvenile court's jurisdiction was not supported by substantial evidence. View "In re Joaquin C." on Justia Law

by
The statutory presumption set forth in Ariz. Rev. Stat. 25-814(A)(1) that a man is presumed to be a legal parent if his wife gives birth to a child during the marriage applies to couples in same-sex marriages. After Kimberly McLaughlin and Suzan McLaughlin were married in California, Kimberly gave birth to a baby boy, E. When E. was almost two years old, Kimberly moved out of the parties’ home, taking E. with her. Thereafter, Suzan filed petitions for dissolution and for legal decision-making and parenting time in loco parentis. Suzan also challenged the constitutionality of Arizona’s refusal to recognize lawful same-sex marriages performed in other states. Based on Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. __ (2015), the trial court concluded that Kimberly could not rebut Suzan’s presumptive parentage under section 25-814(C). The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Suzan was a presumed parent under section 25-814(A)(1) and that Kimberly was equitably estopped from rebutting Suzan’s presumptive parentage of their son. View "McLaughlin v. Honorable Lori B. Jones" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the juvenile court’s permanency order with regard to Mother’s child, an order that changed the permanency plan for the child from family reunification to adoption. The court held (1) despite the troubling delays in this neglect proceeding, Mother waived her due process and other claims relating to the change in permanency from reunification to adoption when she advocated the same change in permanency; and (2) the juvenile court did not err in refusing to designate the adoptive parents in the permanency order because determination of the adoptive parents is a matter for a separate proceeding. View "DM v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Eric Teele’s motion to modify his child support obligation to his former wife but denying his request to be reimbursed for support he had paid during a period when he was disabled. Teele requested the reimbursement because, as a result of his disability, the parties’ two children received a retroactive lump-sum dependent benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA) covering the same period when he had made payments. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the district court did not err in its interpretation and application of Me. Rev. Stat. 19-A, 2107 and Me. Rev. Stat. 19-A, 2009(2) in denying Teele’s request for reimbursement of child support during a period during which the children received retroactive dependent benefits from the SSA. View "Teele v. West-Harper" on Justia Law