Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court setting Appellant's support obligation above the amount indicated by the latest version of Arkansas Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 10 - Child Support Guidelines, holding that the court erred in its calculation of Appellant's child support obligation.At issue before the Supreme Court was construction of new provisions in the guidelines setting support when a child's parents earn more than $30,000 per month. In this case, the court concluded that $6500 was an appropriate monthly support obligation. Appellant appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred by ordering support that exceeded the highest chart amount. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court's ruling constituted a clear error of law and that the court's findings were not consistent with the plain language of revised Administrative Order No. 10. View "Parnell v. Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's order granting Father's motion for modification of custody of the parties' daughter, holding that the court did not err in modifying the previous custody order after finding that Father's change in employment and move to Little Rock constituted a material change in circumstances.A previous order of the circuit court awarded joint custody of the child to the parties and provided a specific visitation schedule. Father later filed an amended complaint for contempt and for modification. The circuit court found that Mother was not in contempt of court but concluded that Father's change in employment and move to Little Rock constituted a material change in circumstances that warranted modification of child custody to grant Father equal time with the child. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court's decision to reallocate time was not an abuse of discretion. View "Nalley v. Adams" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying mother's motion to prohibit the Arkansas Department of Human Services (ADHS) from immunizing her one-year-old daughter, M.S., over her objection after the circuit court adjudicated M.S. dependent-neglected, holding that Mother properly availed herself of the vaccination exemption provided for by Ark. Code. Ann. 6-18-702.On appeal, Mother argued that ADHS, as the temporary custodian of M.S., did not have the authority to immunize the child over her philosophical and religious objections. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) under the circumstances, the legal issues were sufficiently developed to allow an intelligent and useful decision, and therefore, the case was ripe for appellate review; and (2) Mother exercised her right to exempt M.S. from immunization, as was her right as a parent. View "Macklin v. Arkansas Department of Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the adoption order of the circuit court, holding that the circuit court erred in determining that Father's consent was not required in the adoption of his two minor children to their natural mother and her husband.Under Ark. Code Ann. 9-9-207(a)(2)(ii) consent is not required of a parent of a child in the custody of another if that period, for a period of at least one year, has failed significantly to provide for the care and support of the child as required by law or judicial decree. Mother and her husband sought to adopt the two minor children of Mother and Father, alleging that Father's consent was not required under section 9-9-207(a)(2)(ii). The circuit court granted the adoption petition. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court clearly erred in finding that Father's consent to the adoption was not required based on the failure to provide for the care and support of the children for a period of one year. View "Plymale v. Rogers" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part the divorce decree and orders of contempt of the circuit court in this divorce case, holding that the circuit court did not err or abuse its discretion.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in calculating Appellant's child-support obligation at $800 per month and imputing income to Appellant; (2) did not abuse its discretion in awarding alimony to Appellee; (3) did not clearly err in failing to consider a mediation agreement; and (4) did not clearly err in holding Appellant in contempt for failure to pay child support. Lastly, the Supreme Court held Appellant failed to preserve for appeal his remaining argument. View "Symanietz v. Symanietz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed a divorce decree that awarded Rhonda Marlene Cherry permanent alimony and a subsequent order that found William Cherry in contempt for failing to pay the full amount of alimony ordered, holding that the circuit court did not err.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not abuse its discretion by not reducing or eliminating the amount of alimony that Rhonda was to receive; (2) did not clearly err in holding William in contempt; (3) did not clearly err in finding that annuities from a personal injury settlement were not divisible as marital property; and (4) did not err in failing to order William to purchase a life insurance policy. View "Cherry v. Cherry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Father's petition to modify a joint custody order and give him primary custody of his minor daughter and denying Mother's petition for attorney fees, holding that the circuit court did not err.In the parties' divorce decree, the circuit court ordered joint custody of the child with each parent to have physical custody of the child on alternating weeks. Father later the petition for change of custody that was at issue in this appeal. The circuit court found a material change of circumstances but concluded that the best interest of the child required it to maintain the status quo. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no clear error in the circuit court's decision to maintain the joint-custody arrangement; and (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in not awarding Mother attorney's fees. View "Pace v. Pace" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting Appellant a divorce, dividing the parties' marital property, and awarding alimony to Appellee, holding that the circuit court's rulings were not clearly erroneous.The parties in this case entered into an arranged marriage in India. Approximately one year later, Appellant filed a complaint for divorce. After the divorce decree was entered Appellant appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err by equally dividing the funds that Appellant spent during the parties' separation; (2) did not err in deciding to divide equally the marital assets; and (3) did not err by awarding Appellee rehabilitative alimony. View "Chekuri v. Nekkalapudi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals dismissing for lack of subject matter jurisdiction the appeal from a dependency-neglect case in which the circuit court entered an order awarding permanent custody, holding that the appeal was timely filed. The circuit court entered an order awarding permanent custody of four minor children to the children's foster parents and closed the dependency-neglect case that the Arkansas Department of Human Services had brought against the children's parents. After the four minor children unsuccessfully filed a motion for relief from judgment they filed a notice of appeal. The court of appeals dismissed the matter for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals' opinion and remanded the case for further action, holding that the appeal from the order awarding permanent custody was timely filed. View "Minor Children v. Arkansas Department of Human Services" on Justia Law

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In this divorce case, the Supreme Court affirmed on direct appeal the order of the circuit court on remand from the Supreme Court but reversed and remanded on cross appeal, holding that the circuit court erred in calculating the amount Nancy Moore was ordered to reimburse John David Moore (David) for his payments on a parcel of real property referred to as "Granny's Place."When this case was first before the Supreme Court the Court reversed the circuit court's division of certain property and award of alimony and remand. David appealed from the circuit court's order on remand, and Nancy cross-appealed. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in dividing the marital property unequally under the circumstances of this case; (2) did not clearly err in valuing and dividing the martial livestock; (3) did not err in holding David in contempt; but (4) erred by awarding David his request for reimbursement for payments he made toward the principal indebtedness on Granny's Place. View "Moore v. Moore" on Justia Law