Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Susan McGarvey’s motion to modify a divorce judgment between her and John McGarvey and Susan’s motion to reconsider that denial, holding that there was no error in the court’s judgment. On appeal, Susan argued that the district court erred by determining that there were no substantial changes in circumstances sufficient to justify a modification of the divorce judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) because Susan failed to provide the Court a transcript of the hearing on her motion to modify, it must be assumed that the court’s findings were supported by competent evidence in the record; and (2) based on those findings, the court did not err in denying Susan’s motion to modify. View "McGarvey v. McGarvey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother’s parental rights to her child pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii), holding that the court did not err in finding that Mother was unfit to parent and that it was in the best interest of the child to terminate Mother’s parental rights. Specifically, the Court held (1) all of the district court’s factual findings had evidentiary support; (2) the district court did not err in determining that, despite Mother’s efforts, she was unable to protect her child from jeopardy or take responsibility for the child within a time that was reasonably calculated to meet the child’s needs; and (3) the court did not err in concluding that the termination of mother’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest. View "In re Child of Amanda H." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother’s parental rights to her two children, holding that there was sufficient evidence to support the court’s findings of parental unfitness. Based on its findings, the lower court found grounds to terminate Mother’s parental rights to her children pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(B)(2)(b)(i), (ii) and (iv). The court further determined that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests. On appeal, Mother challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting all three grounds of parental unfitness. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the record contained sufficient evidence to support the court’s findings as to all three grounds of parental unfitness. View "In re Children of Tiyonie R." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of divorce entered by the district court on Donald Durkin’s complaint and the court’s denial of Joyce Durkin’s motion for amended or clarified findings and for reconsideration, holding that the court’s judgment was unclear. At issue was whether district court erred by concluding that it lacked the authority to award spousal support from nonmarital assets and by declining to award nominal spousal support. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the district court did have the authority to consider a spouse’s nonmarital assets in determining the appropriateness of spousal support; (2) the district court did have the authority to secure any spousal support through a lien on nonmarital property; but (3) the district court’s judgment was unclear as to whether the court believed it had such authority. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded for clarification of the court’s analysis and conclusions and for reconsideration as deemed necessary, holding that from the court’s language in its order, the court apparently erred in its legal analysis regarding its ability to consider nonmarital property in determining whether to award spousal support - and in its ability to fashion a remedy to enforce any such award. View "Durkin v. Durkin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Father’s parental rights to two of his children pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii),(iv), holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion in determining that the termination of Father’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence provided the district court with ample support for the court’s conclusion that termination of Father’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests; and (2) the district court’s determination that the circumstances of this case warranted termination of Father’s parental rights while preserving Mother’s parental rights was not erroneous. View "In re Children of Christopher S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed two separate judgments of the probate court granting the petitions of half-sisters’ maternal grandmother to terminate the fathers’ parental rights as part of the proceeding through which the grandmother sought to adopt the children, holding that the fathers were not deprived of due process and equal protection of the law when the court denied the fathers’ motions for an order requiring the provision of rehabilitation and reunification services. The judicial termination proceedings in these consolidated cases did not involve the Department of Health and Human Services. The fathers argued that they were constitutionally entitled to the services that are ordinarily provided in a title 22 child protection action after a court has found abuse or neglect or has placed a child in foster care under the supervision of the Department. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the probate court (1) did not violate the fathers’ constitutional rights by denying the fathers’ motions for orders of rehabilitation and reunification services; and (2) did not err in determining that each father’s parental rights should be terminated. View "In re Adoption of Riahleigh M." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the probate court denying the petition filed by Michael Zani and Peter Zani to be appointed co-guardians of Patricia S., their mother and an incapacitated adult, and instead appointing Karin Beaster and Nancy Carter as co-guardians, holding that Beaster and Carter had not fulfilled the pretrial filing requirements of Me. Rev. Stat. 18-A, 5-303(a). The probate court appointed Beaster and Carter as co-guardians of Patricia even though Beaster and Carter had not filed petitions to be appointed. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that the superior court erred by appointing Beaster and Carter when they had not complied with the requirements applicable to a guardianship petition under section 5-303(a). View "In re Patricia S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the probate court terminating the parental rights of Mother and Father pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 18-A, 9-204(a)-(b) and Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(2), (B)(2)(a) and (B)(2)(b)(ii), holding that the probate court did not err or abuse its discretion. Specifically, the Court held (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the probate court’s findings that Mother and Father were parentally unfit and that termination of their parental rights was in the best interest of the child; and (2) Father failed to demonstrate, and the record did not reveal, any error in the probate court’s handling of objections that were raised to the maternal grandmother’s testimony. View "In re Adoption of Ivan M." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that the children of Mother and Father were in jeopardy pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4035, holding that the court’s findings were supported by competent record evidence. After the Department of Health and Human Services filed a child protection petition against Mother and Father as to their three minor children the court found by a preponderance of the evidence that the children were in circumstances of jeopardy to their health and welfare. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the court’s factual findings were supported by competent record evidence. View "In re Children of Travis G." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Parents’ parental rights to their children pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4050-4056, holding that the record supported the court’s findings that at least one ground of parental unfitness had been proved and that termination of Parents’ rights was in the children’s best interests. On appeal, Father advanced no arguments, but Mother argued that the district court erred in taking judicial notice of prior proceedings. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) the district court independently assessed all facts presented; and (2) the court’s determination that termination of parental rights was established by clear and convincing evidence was supported by the record. View "In re Children of Bradford W." on Justia Law