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In 2014, the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services (the Department) was ordered to take custody of D.Z.B. and house him in a particular facility pending his delinquency adjudication. Believing that the district court order imposed a duty on it that was in violation of statutory requirements, the Department appealed that order. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal, concluding that the Department, as a non-party to the delinquency proceedings, lacked standing to appeal the order. In reaching that conclusion, the Colorado Supreme Court determined the district court conflated the test to evaluate whether a plaintiff has standing to bring a lawsuit with the test to determine whether a non-party has standing to appeal a decision of a lower court. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded for the division to apply the correct standing analysis and to consider any other remaining arguments. View "Colorado in Interest of D.Z.B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s modification of Father’s visitation schedule, holding that there was no support for a finding that the modification to Father’s visitation schedule was in the children’s best interests. When Father and Mother were divorced the district court ordered that Father would exercise his visitation with the parties’ two children at their former marital residence in Oakley, Utah. The parties later requested a modification to the visitation schedule so that Father, who lived in Rock Springs, Wyoming, was no longer required to exercise his visitation in Oakley. The court granted the request and changed the visitation location but, in addition, modified the visitation schedule to provide that the children would spend extended periods of time with Father in Rock Springs. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not violate Mother’s due process rights when it modified the visitation schedule; (2) there was a material change in circumstances sufficient to reopen the court’s original order; but (3) the record did not support a finding that the modification of Father’s visitation schedule was in the children’s best interests. View "Booth v. Booth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals’ dismissal of Appellant’s appeal of a district court order granting temporary visitation of Appellant’s minor children to the children’s maternal grandmother, holding that the order for temporary grandparent visitation was not a final, appealable order. In dismissing the appeal, the court of appeals concluded that the order at issue was a final, appealable order but that the appeal was moot because the order had expired. The court of appeals, however, examined the merits of Appellant’s claims under the public interest exception to the mootness doctrine and concluded that the district court had the authority to issue the temporary order allowing visitation during the pendency of grandparent visitation proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed on other grounds, holding that the district court’s order of temporary grandparent visitation did not affect a substantial right, and therefore, the court of appeals lacked jurisdiction over the case. View "Simms v. Friel" on Justia Law

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Twins P.T and E.T. were removed from Mother’s care by the Alameda County Social Services Agency in April 2014 when they were four months old. Mother has a history of mental health issues and drug addiction; E.T. was found unresponsive and not breathing on her living room couch. After more than a year of reunification services, the children were returned to Mother in October 2015 with family maintenance services. In February 2017, Mother told her social worker that she had relapsed into drug use and needed help. They came up with a safety plan: Mother would temporarily place the children with their godparents who had previously served as the foster parents. Mother did not immediately test negative for drugs and bickered with the godparents. The juvenile court bypassed reunification services to Mother because she was previously provided services and reunification was unsuccessful. The court ordered a hearing to terminate Mother’s parental rights. Ultimately, the juvenile court denied Mother's petition that asserted changed circumstances and terminated her parental rights with a finding her children are adoptable. The court of appeal reversed, calling this “the rare case where the juvenile court erred in failing to recognize that Mother’s relationship with her children outweighed the benefit to the children that would accrue from termination of parental rights and a plan of adoption.” Mother did the right thing when she informed her social worker that she was again using drugs and sought help. View "In re E.T." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother’s and Father’s parental rights to two of their children, holding, among other things, that the evidence was sufficient to support the court’s determination that Mother was parentally unfit within the meaning of Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(B)(2)(b)(ii)-(iv). Specifically, the Court held (1) even if the evidence shows that the Department did not fulfill its statutory duty to develop a proper rehabilitation and reunification plan, such a failure is not dispositive of a termination petition; (2) the district court’s determination of Father’s parental unfitness with regard to his two children was supported by competent evidence in the record; and (3) the court’s determination of Mother’s parental unfitness was supported by competent record evidence. View "In re Children of Corey W." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court in this appeal from a judgment and decree of divorce, holding that the court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney fees, calculating child support, and dividing property. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney fees to Wife; (2) did not err in calculating child support and awarding adoption subsidies to Wife; (3) did not abuse its discretion dividing the credit card debts of the parties and requiring Husband to pay a cash property settlement; and (4) did not abuse its discretion in requiring Husband to pay any judgments against him not covered by the sale of the marital home within one year from the date of the judgment and decree of divorce. View "Green v. Green" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that, to the extent a surviving spouse’s shares of a deceased spouse’s estate exceeds $25,000, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 191, 15, the Commonwealth’s elective share statute, reduces his or her interest in the real property from outright ownership to a life estate. The dispute here centered on the nature of a surviving spouse’s interest in a deceased spouse’s real property where the surviving spouse’s shares of the decedent’s personal and real property together exceeded $25,000 in value. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) where a surviving spouse elects to waive the provisions of a deceased spouse’s will in accordance with section 15 and the decedent left issue, the surviving spouse is entitled to one-third of the decedent’s personal property and one-third of the decedent’s real property; (2) the above is subject to the limitation that if the surviving spouse’s shares of the real and property property, taken together, exceed $25,000 in value, then the surviving spouse takes $25,000 absolutely and a life estate in any remaining real property; and (3) further, any remaining personal property must be held in trust for the duration of the surviving spouse’s life with the surviving spouse entitled to the income therefrom. View "Ciani v. MacGrath" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order and decree of adoption issued by the district court terminating Father’s parental rights and ordering the adoption of his minor daughter, L.F.R., by her stepfather, K.J.D., holding that the district court’s failure to notify Father of his right to counsel violated his constitutional rights. During a hearing on the petition for termination of Father’s parental rights, Father appeared but was not represented by counsel. On appeal, Father argued that the district court’s failure to notify him of his right to counsel during the proceeding violated his constitutional rights. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding that Father did not knowingly and voluntarily waive his right to counsel. The Court remanded the cause for a new hearing. View "In re Adoption of L.F.R." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Riverside County Department of Child Support Services (the County) filed a complaint against defendant-respondent Michael Lee Estabrook (Father), seeking $288 per month in child support, as well as any healthcare expenses, for J.L., Father’s alleged daughter, whose mother, J.L. (Mother), was receiving public assistance. Father requested and received a judgment of non-paternity, and dismissed the County’s complaint with prejudice. On appeal, the County argued: (1) the family court erred by not ordering genetic testing; (2) the family court’s decision to apply the marital presumption was not supported by substantial evidence; (3) the family court erred by permitting Father to assert the marital presumption because the presumption may only be raised by the spouses who are in the marriage; and (4) the family court’s finding of non-paternity was not supported by substantial evidence. The Court of Appeal determined the family court erred by not ordering genetic testing; the family court’s decision to apply the marital presumption was not supported by substantial evidence; and the family court’s judgment of non-paternity was not supported by substantial evidence. View "County of Riverside v. Estabrook" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the orders of the district court making paternity and custody determinations concerning one child but declining to do so with respect to the other child at issue in this case, holding that Mother failed to comply with Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-520.02, and therefore, the district court lacked jurisdiction to enter the relief sought. Specifically, the district court found that Mother did not properly serve Appellee and that it lacked jurisdiction to establish paternity and award custody with respect to one child. The court also failed to find that it was in the children’s best interests to remain in the United States rather than return to Guatemala. Mother challenged these findings on appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Mother did not comply with section 25-520.01, and therefore, her constructive service was improper and the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over Appellee. View "Francisco v. Gonzalez" on Justia Law