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The superior court divided J. Jill Maxwell and William Sosnowski's marital property during divorce proceedings. The superior court found that William was entitled to credit for post-separation mortgage payments that he made on the marital residence, but it did not determine the precise amount of those credits because the sale of the residence was pending. After the residence ultimately sold nearly two years later, the superior court issued a disbursement order that granted William credit for mortgage payments dating back to October 2011, when he moved out of the marital residence, rather than May 31, 2013, which the court had found to be the separation date. Jill appealed the effective date of the credit for these post-separation payments in the disbursement order. She also challenged consideration of the funds she provided to her adult son during the marriage in the property division order. The Alaska Supreme Court vacated the disbursement order because William was entitled to credit only for payments he made after the separation date. But the Court concluded Jill’s argument regarding the funds she gave her son was untimely because the property division order became final in December 2014. View "Maxwell v. Sosnowski" on Justia Law

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Linda Marshall appealed a trial court’s judgment on reserved issues following the dissolution of her marriage to Bryan Marshall. Linda challenged two specific aspects of the family court’s division of marital property: (1) the court erred declaring a 2006 capital gains tax liability to be a community debt, notwithstanding the fact she had obtained an “innocent spouse” determination from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); and (2) the court erred in awarding Bryan the post-separation proceeds of a disability insurance policy as his separate property, despite the fact the policy had been purchased with community funds and was purportedly intended to serve as retirement income. The Court of Appeal determined the trial court did not err: (1) the trial court was not bound by the IRS’s innocent spouse determination in characterizing the tax liability, and the decision to treat the liability as a community debt, notwithstanding that determination, was supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the disability insurance policy was intended to replace Bryan’s earned income, rather than to operate as part of a retirement plan, was amply supported by the evidence. View "Marriage of Marshall" on Justia Law

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In a proceeding to terminate parental rights that is governed by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA), qualified expert witness testimony is required to support the determination that continued custody of the child by the parent is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. The district court terminated the parental rights of Mother and Father, concluding that ICWA and MIFPA applied to the proceedings and that the laws’ requirements had been satisfied. The court of appeals reversed in part, holding that the district court erred in failing expressly to find under ICWA and MIFPA that continued custody of the child by the parent was likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. On appeal, the district court stated as much in a one-sentence addendum to its findings of fact and conclusions of law. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s termination decision. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court erred in terminating Father’s parental rights because the qualified expert witness’s testimony did not support the court’s determination that continued custody of the children by Father would likely result in serious damage to the children. View "In re Welfare of Children of S.R.K. & O.A.K." on Justia Law

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In this divorce proceeding, the Supreme Court overruled its precedent disfavoring shared custody. The district court issued a final decision granting Mother and Father shared legal and physical custody of their minor child until he enters kindergarten and granted primary physical custody to Father with visitation for Mother after that. On appeal, Mother argued that the district court abused its discretion in ordering shared custody in violation of the Supreme Court’s clear rule that shared custody arrangements are disfavored. See Buttle v. Buttle, 196 P.3d 174 (Wyo. 2008). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court’s custody decisions were not an abuse of discretion. View "Bruegman v. Bruegman" on Justia Law

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A husband and wife divorced after 40 years of marriage. The wife appealed the superior court’s decision to equally divide their marital property, which consisted primarily of retirement benefits and debt. The superior court declined to consider how the couple’s Social Security benefits affected a fair distribution, believing that Alaska Supreme Court case law precluded it from doing so. But the Supreme Court held that although federal law prohibited any allocation of the parties’ Social Security benefits, the court could consider them as evidence of the parties’ financial condition in crafting an equitable division of the marital property. The wife raised a number of other challenges to the property division, but the Supreme Court concluded they lacked merit. The Court vacated the order dividing the marital property and remanded for further consideration in light of the parties’ Social Security benefits. View "Dunmore v. Dunmore" on Justia Law

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A couple divorced after nearly 30 years of marriage. The husband appealed the superior court’s valuation of his corporate stock and its characterization of the wife’s retirement health benefits as non-marital property. The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the court’s stock valuation, but reversed its characterization of the retirement health benefits as non-marital. The Court therefore remanded for valuation of the health benefits and reconsideration of the equitable distribution of the marital estate. View "Wiegers v. Richards-Wiegers" on Justia Law

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The biological father of three children validly consented to their adoption in the face of parental rights termination proceedings. Five months later he sought to withdraw his consent. The superior court determined that withdrawal of the father’s consent to adoption would not be in the children’s best interests and denied the father permission to withdraw his consent. The father appealed, arguing the superior court clearly erred in finding that withdrawal of his consent was not in his children’s best interests. Because the superior court did not clearly err in this factual determination, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed. View "Dean S. v. Alaska Dept. of Health & Social Services" on Justia Law

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The Juvenile Code does not mandate that a petition alleging a juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent must be filed only by the director or authorized agent of the department of social services of the county “in which the juvenile resides or is found.” See N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-101. The Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Youth and Family Division (YFS) filed a juvenile petition with the District Court in Mecklenburg County alleging that A.P. was a neglected and dependent juvenile. The trial court concluded that A.P. was a neglected and dependent juvenile. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that YFS did not have standing to file the juvenile petition because Mecklenburg County was not the juvenile’s county of residence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statutory sections in the Juvenile Code governing parties and venue did not mandate dismissal of the juvenile petition under the circumstances of this case. View "In re A.P." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals that affirmed the order of the trial court requiring Father’s consent before proceeding with the adoption of a minor child (Child), holding that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the trial court’s order. Specifically, the Court held (1) as a matter of law, Father’s evidence did not establish that he made reasonable and consistent payments for the support of Mother or Child before the filing of the adoption petition; and (2) therefore, the evidence was legally insufficient to support the trial court’s order requiring Father’s consent. View "In re Adoption of C.H.M." on Justia Law

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In this appeal, Grandmother failed to meet her burden of establishing that she was an interested party in a stepparent adoption proceeding relating to her grandson. The district court concluded that neither the law nor other circumstances conferred standing upon Grandmother to participate in the stepparent adoption because she was not an interested party. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed without reaching the merits of Grandmother’s claim that she was a parent by virtue of certain agreements and court orders entered in a separate grandparent visitation case, holding that Grandmother failed to establish that she was an interested party under the Kansas Adoption and Relinquishment Act and the Probate Code. View "In re Adoption of T.M.M.H." on Justia Law