by
Family Court does not retain subject matter jurisdiction to conduct a permanency hearing pursuant to Family Court Act (FCA) article 10-A once the underlying neglect petition brought under article 10 of the FCA has been dismissed for failure to prove neglect. Family Court directed Daughter’s temporary removal from Mother’s custody. The Department of Social Services subsequently filed a FCA article 10 neglect petition. Family Court eventually ruled that the Department failed to prove neglect and dismissed the petition. Family Court, however, did not release Daughter into Mother’s custody and instead held a second permanency hearing. Mother argued that the dismissal of the neglect proceeding against her ended Family Court’s subject matter jurisdiction and should have necessitated her daughter’s immediate return. The Appellate Division affirmed the second permanency hearing order. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the dismissal of a neglect petition operates to discharge a child from placement, terminate all orders regarding supervision, protection or services docketed thereunder, and extinguish Family Court’s jurisdiction over the matter. View "Matter of Jamie J." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of Patricia and Robert Porenta’s marital home to Patricia in this case involving a fraudulent transfer of the home to Robert’s mother (Mother). During the divorce proceedings of Patricia and Robert, Robert transferred his interest in the couple’s marital home to Mother with the intent to avoid Patricia’s claim to the home. Robert subsequently died, and the divorce case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Thereafter, Patricia filed this action against Mother alleging that the transfer was fraudulent under the Utah Fraudulent Transfer Act. The district court granted the marital home to Patricia. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Utah Fraudulent Transfer Act requires an ongoing debtor-creditor relationship when a claim under the Act is filed, and the debtor-creditor relationship was in this case was not extinguished when Robert died because an ongoing debtor-creditor relationship existed between Patricia and Robert’s estate; and (2) the trial court did not err in granting Patricia the entire marital home rather than money damages, but the matter is remanded for a determination of the current status of title. View "Porenta v. Porenta" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the juvenile court’s order denying Appellants’ motion to intervene in custody proceedings relating to their granddaughter, EHD. The court held (1) in light of the facts of this case, the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellants’ request to intervene; and (2) Appellants did not have standing to pursue their remaining arguments that the juvenile court abused its discretion in denying Appellants’ requests to be appointed to the multi-disciplinary team and in denying Appellants’ request that EHD be placed with them. View "MMH v. State" on Justia Law

by
After a juvenile court has terminated its jurisdiction, the family court has jurisdiction over domestic violence orders and may issue a renewal. In this case, the juvenile court issued a protective order and enjoined defendant from specified acts of abuse, and the order remained effective after the juvenile court terminated its jurisdiction. The Court of Appeal held that the family court erroneously concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to renew plaintiff's restraining order and remanded to the trial court to apply Family Code section 6345 to determine if plaintiff was entitled to a five-year or permanent restraining order. View "Garcia v. Escobar" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court did not reach the merits in this matter where Father appealed the district court order awarding Mother attorney fees and costs for the underlying juvenile court proceedings for lack of jurisdiction and awarded Mother reasonable attorney fees and costs on appeal. The juvenile court denied Father’s petition to terminate Mother’s parental rights and granted Mother custody of the parties’ minor children. The court also ordered Father to pay all fees and costs incurred by Mother. When jurisdiction over the case had been transferred to the district court, the court granted Mother’s motion for attorney fees. Father filed a motion to alter or amend under Utah R. Civ. P. 59 challenging the award. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court lacked the authority to rule on the merits of the Rule 59 motion because it was not timely filed, and therefore, the earlier order of the district court was the final judgment on the underlying matter of attorney fees and costs; (2) the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction to rule on the merits of this case; and (3) Mother is awarded reasonable attorney fees and costs on appeal. View "Smith v. Smith" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court modifying a divorce judgment to confer sole parental rights and responsibilities on Mother and impose conditions on Father’s contact with the parties’ four children. The court held (1) the district court did not misinterpret or misapply Me. Rev. Stat. 19-A, 1653(3) in prioritizing the children’s safety and well-being when determining the children’s best interests; and (2) the district court acted within its discretion in ordering Father to undergo sobriety testing before and during all visits with the children and to have a psychological evaluation and begin any recommended treatment before the children resume overnight visits in his home. View "Miller v. Nery" on Justia Law

by
In this appeal brought by Mother, the Supreme Court affirmed the divorce decree entered by the district court. The court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding Father primary physical custody of the parties’ daughter; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Mother’s motion to bifurcate the trial to separate the property distribution proceedings from child custody and support proceedings; and (3) this court declines to award sanctions under Wyo. R. App. P. 10.05(b), which authorizes the court to certify that there was no reasonable cause for an appeal and award attorney’s fees and damages. View "Ransom v. Ransom" on Justia Law

by
This case began in 2014 when the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) filed a petition alleging that B.K. and L.K., then six and seven years old respectively, were children in need of care or supervision (CHINS). In September 2014, the parents stipulated to a CHINS adjudication, which was adopted by the family court. In the stipulation, the parents admitted that over the previous four years they had not engaged in recommended services for domestic violence and substance abuse, and that the children had suffered severe trauma due to witnessing violence in the home and had frequent unexcused absences and tardiness from school. ness from school during the 2013-14 school year. The court approved a case plan with concurrent goals of reunification with mother and father or adoption, with interim custody with DCF. The case plan called for father to participate in parenting classes and domestic violence treatment, and for mother to participate in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Father made significant progress toward the case plan goals. Mother, by contrast, attended visits and therapy inconsistently, and was incarcerated for a period in 2015. Since December 2015, mother has had no contact with the children. In April 2016, DCF filed petitions to terminate the parental rights of both parents. However, the court found that father played a constructive role in the children’s lives and that it would not be in their best interests to lose father as they had mother. By 2017, the trial court issued its decision terminating father's parental rights, finding permanency should have been given greater weight in its analysis, and that the best interests of the children were ultimately served by termination. On appeal, father argues that the court’s decision lacked a rational basis and that it erred by terminating his parental rights based on findings that were not supported by clear and convincing evidence. DCF argued the trial court did not base its decision on any new findings of fact, but merely reconsidered the law. The Vermont Supreme Court disagreed, finding the trial court made clear that it learned two new facts at the hearing upon which it relied in reweighing the best-interest factors. The original decision did not include these findings, which were based upon statements made by the attorneys and the foster mother at the hearing. The court based its decision to terminate father’s parental rights at least in part on these new facts. For that reason, the Court could not hold that error to be harmless. View "In re B.K. and L.K." on Justia Law

by
In this custody case, the chancellor found the natural parents unfit to retain custody of their young daughter. After considering the child’s best interest and conducting an "Albright" analysis, the chancellor awarded joint custody to the child’s maternal great-grandparents and paternal grandmother. The paternal grandmother appealed. She argued Mississippi Code Section 93-5-24 (Rev. 2013) prohibits joint-custody awards to third parties. The Court of Appeals affirmed the chancellor's decision. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found Section 93-5-24 allowed joint-custody awards among third parties. Thus, the chancellor did not abuse his discretion, and the Court of Appeals was right in recognizing as much. View "Darby v. Combs" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding that the court did not err or abuse its discretion in determining that termination of Parents’ parental rights to their child pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i), (ii), (iv), with a permanency plan of adoption, was in the child’s best interest. The court held that, given the court’s findings of fact that were supported by competent evidence in the record, the court adequately explained how the deficits of the parents rendered each parent unwilling or unable to protect the child from jeopardy or take responsibility for the child in time to meet his needs and adequately explained how Mother failed to make a good faith effort to rehabilitate and reunify with the child. View "In re Ryan G." on Justia Law