Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the court of appeals affirming an order of the circuit court granting Father unsupervised overnight visitation with two minor daughters, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by expanding Father's visitation.After Father confessed to four incidents of inappropriately touching his daughter born from a prior marriage, Mother filed for divorce. The trial court concluded that Father had sexually abused his daughter and ordered supervised visitation for eight hours each Saturday. The court granted sole custody to Mother. Father later filed a third motion for joint custody and increased, unrestricted visitation. The trial court granted Father overnight visitation with the children every other weekend. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the lower courts utilized an incorrect legal standard, thereby requiring reversal. View "Moore v. Moore" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reinstated the judgment of the circuit court finding that Mother neglected her daughter and terminating Mother's parental rights, holding that the circuit court's termination of Mother's parental rights was supported by substantial evidence.The court of appeals reversed the termination of Mother's parental rights, concluding that the circuit court clearly erred in finding that termination was supported by clear and convincing evidence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) substantial evidence supported the trial court's finding that the child was in the custody of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services for fifteen of the preceding forty-eight months; and (2) the trial court's findings under Ky. Rev. Stat. 625.090(2)(e) and (g) were not clearly erroneous. View "Cabinet for Health & Family Services v. H.L.O." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the family court terminating Father's parental rights to Child, holding that the court's findings were not supported by substantial evidence.Through two dependency, neglect and abuse cases, two domestic violence cases, and one dissolution case, Child was never adjudicated to be an abused or neglected child. After Father's parental rights to Child were terminated, Father appealed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding (1) the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) does not apply to interstate placements of children with their biological parents, and therefore, an ICPC home study shall not be required for a noncustodial parent who is the subject of allegations or findings of child abuse or neglect; and (2) because much of the case against Father was based on his failure successfully to complete an ICPC home study, the court erred in terminating Father's parental rights. View "A.G. v. Cabinet for Health & Family Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and vacated the judgment of the family court terminating Father's parental rights to S.A.A., his now sixteen-year-old son, holding that the court's findings were not supported by substantial evidence.Much of the case against Father was based upon his failure successfully to complete an Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) home study. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment terminating Father's parental rights, holding (1) an ICPC home study shall not be required for a noncustodial parent who is not the subject of allegations or findings of child abuse or neglect pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 615.030; and (2) the trial court erred in terminating Father's parental rights. View "A.G. v. Cabinet for Health & Family Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the order and judgment of the trial court terminating the parental rights of Mother and Father to their two boys, holding that the court of appeals did not err.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) substantial evidence of abuse and neglect proved that termination was in the children's best interests; (2) the State's Cabinet for Health and Family Services proved it made reasonable efforts to reunify the family; and (3) admission and consideration of abuse of other children within the extended family did not unfairly prejudice Mother and Father. View "R.M. v. Cabinet for Health & Family Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals denying Petitioner's original action seeking a writ of mandamus against Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Tara Hagerty, holding that the court of appeals did not abuse its discretion by denying Petitioner's petition for a writ of mandamus.Petitioner sought the writ to compel Judge Hagerty to dismiss Petitioner's estranged wife's petition for dissolution of marriage, arguing that he and his estranged wife were already divorced under the laws of the Kingdom of Jordan when the petition for dissolution was filed. The court of appeals denied the writ petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner was not entitled to a writ under either the first class of writ or the second class of writ. View "Iqtaifan v. Hagerty" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals denying Elderserve, Inc.'s petition for a writ of mandamus directing the family court to grant its motion to amend an annulment petition to include a petition for dissolution of the marriage of Charles Brooks and Taylor Toney, holding that the trial court did not err in denying the motion to amend.On Brooks' behalf, Elderserve sought to amend the annulment petition to include a petition for a dissolution of the marriage of Brooks and Toney. In denying the motion to amend, the family court cited the prohibition in Johnson v. Johnson, 170 S.W.2d 889 (Ky. 1943), against guardians initiating an action for divorce on behalf of their wards. Elderserve then sought the writ of mandamus at issue. The court of appeals denied the writ, also relying on the holding in Johnson. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court's denial of the motion to amend the annulment petition was not in error because Johnson was good precedent at the time the court entertained Elderserve's petition; (2) changes to the Kentucky guardianship statutes since Johnson's rendering no longer justify its complete prohibition of guardian-initiated divorces. The opinion then described legal steps a guardian must follow before it can petition for a divorce of its ward. View "Brooks v. Honorable Tara Hagerty" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the family court's finding of neglect against M.C. regarding his three teenaged children and vacated the family court's orders, holding that the family court's finding that M.C. neglected his children was an abuse of discretion.The family court found that the three children in this case were neglected by M.C. under Ky. Rev. Stat. 600.020(1)(a)2, 3, 4, and 8. The court of appeals affirmed, holding, among other things, that there was sufficient evidence of risk of physical or emotional injury to support a finding of neglect in this case. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) there was no evidence that M.C.'s children were at a risk of physical or emotional injury; (2) there was no evidence that M.C.'s substance use disorder rendered him incapable of caring for his children or meeting their needs; and (3) no reasonable argument could be made that M.C. neglected his children under either section 600.020(1)(a)4 or 8. View "M.C. v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Appellant's petition for grandparent visitation on grounds that Appellant lacked standing to seek formal visitation after the adoption of his grandchild had been finalized, holding that the stepparent exception set forth in Hicks v. Enlow, 764 S.W.2d 68 (Ky. 1989), should be applied to grandparents under the facts appearing in this matter.Appellant was the paternal grandfather of Child. Child's maternal grandmother petitioned the family court to adopt Child with the consent of Mother, who also consented to the termination of her parental rights. Before the adoption was finalized, Father passed away. Thereafter, the family court granted the adoption petition. Appellant subsequently petitioned the family court for grandparent visitation pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 405.021, the grandparent visitation statute. The family court dismissed the petition, finding that Appellant lacked standing to seek visitation under section 405.021 because his grandparent rights terminated upon finalization of the adoption. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 405.021 does not contemplate the situation at hand; and (2) the public policy considerations of the stepparent exception articulated in Hicks extend equally to an intra-family grandparent adoption, such as the one in this case. View "Blackaby v. Barnes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the order of the family court in this divorce action, holding that the family court miscalculated the combined monthly income for purposes of setting child support.On appeal, Appellant challenged the family court's classification and division of marital property, calculation of maintenance, and calculation of child support. The court of appeals affirmed the family court's decision in its entirety. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) the family court erred in classifying Appellee's restricted stock units and thus miscalculated the combined monthly income in setting child support; and (2) the family court did not abuse its discretion by not considering Appellee's income as an independent factor for increasing directed maintenance or computing Appellant's reasonable needs. View "Normandin v. Normandin" on Justia Law