Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court
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Chad Quamme appealed an amended judgment setting his child support obligation and ordering him to pay spousal support to Ashley Quamme. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court failed to properly calculate Chad's child support obligation and the evidence in the record did not support the court’s spousal support decision. Judgment was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Quamme v. Quamme" on Justia Law

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Alonna Knorr, formerly known as Alonna Knorr Norberg, appealed a money judgment entered in favor of Jon Norberg for Knorr’s share of unpaid expenses assigned to her under the divorce judgment. Knorr argued the district court erred by denying her motion to dismiss or vacate the order granting Norberg’s motion to amend the judgment because the parties had a global settlement agreement that resolved the issues in this case. In Knorr v. Norberg, 2022 ND 139, 977 N.W.2d 711, the North Dakota Supreme Court retained jurisdiction and remanded for the district court to consider the settlement agreement and for an explanation of the basis for its decision. View "Norberg v. Norberg, et al." on Justia Law

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Issac Vassel appealed a district court’s divorce judgment and calculation of child support entered following a bench trial. Issac Vassel and Felice Vassel were in a relationship in 2009 and married in 2015. The parties had three minor children together, born in 2010, 2012, and 2016. Felice attempted to file an action for divorce in or around September 2020. The summons and complaint were returned undeliverable. Felice filed a summons and complaint in North Dakota on October 15, 2020. Issac answered and filed a counterclaim on March 15, 2021. A bench trial was held on March 1, 2022. The parties testified at trial. Issac contended the district court erred by awarding Felice back child support because the award was not supported by the record. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the award. View "Vassel v. Vassel" on Justia Law

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T.K. (mother) appealed an order denying her petition to terminate D.D.G.’s, parental rights to the children J.J.G., M.K.G., and O.J.G and from an order denying her motion for a new trial. T.K. and D.D.G., the father, had three children together: J.J.G. born in 2008; M.K.G. born in 2009; and O.J.G. born in 2014. In September 2021, the mother petitioned to terminate the father’s parental rights, alleging the father abandoned the children. She alleged the father has a history of drug use, he abused her in front of the children, he has not seen or communicated with the two younger children for three years, he had one visit with the oldest child in 2019 and another visit in 2020, and he has not provided any financial support for the children. An evidentiary hearing was held; and the mother, father, and other relatives testified. The district court denied the mother’s petition, concluding there was not clear and convincing evidence the father abandoned the children. The mother moved for a new trial under N.D.R.Civ.P. 59. T.K. argued the district court erred by failing to terminate D.D.G.’s parental rights, there was clear and convincing evidence he abandoned the children, and the court erred by denying her motion for a new trial. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court’s findings were not clearly erroneous and the court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion for a new trial. View "Interest of J.J.G., M.K.G. & O.J.G." on Justia Law

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N.L., Sr. appeals from the juvenile court’s order terminating his parental rights. A.H. and N.L., Sr. were the biological mother and father of N.L., Jr., born in 2015 and J.L., born in 2018. In August 2020, N.L. and J.L. were removed from their home after law enforcement performed a welfare check. N.L., Sr. argues the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to terminate his parental rights, the Grand Forks County Human Service Zone (GFCHSZ) lacked standing, and the court erred in finding GFCHSZ met the requirements for termination of parental rights under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and N.D.C.C. § 27-20.3-19. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the termination. View "Interest of N.L." on Justia Law

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James Senger appealed a divorce judgment entered following a bench trial. He argued the district court erred by retroactively applying an amended and reenacted version of N.D.C.C. § 14-05-24(1) in valuing the marital estate and, thereby, erred by considering inadmissible evidence and incorrectly valuing the marital home and bank accounts. He further argued the court erred by distributing marital property and by awarding Denise Senger spousal support. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the court’s award to James for unaccounted for cash withdrawals as a marital asset and remanded with instructions to further explain its reasoning on any unjustified use or dissipation of marital assets by James. The district court's judgment was affirmed in all other respects, and the matter remanded for reconsideration of spousal support in light of any changes made in the division of property. View "Senger v. Senger" on Justia Law

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Sheri Fercho appealed a divorce judgment enforcing the parties’ premarital agreement, dividing the marital estate, and denying spousal support and attorney’s fees. She also appealed an order denying her motion to compel discovery. William Fercho moved to dismiss the appeal on the basis of Sheri having accepted the benefits of judgment. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court denied William’s motion, affirmed the judgment and order, and awarded Sheri attorney’s fees on appeal. View "Fercho v. Fercho, et al." on Justia Law

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Thomas Kaspari appealed an amended judgment entered following a reversal and remand of an award of spousal support. On remand, the district court supplemented its findings and confirmed its prior spousal support award. Kaspari argued on appeal that the court did not adequately explain its decision and its findings are clearly erroneous. Because, after review, the North Dakota Supreme Court was “left with a definite and firm conviction a mistake has been made in awarding spousal support, without adequate explanation, in an amount more than double the recipient’s expenses as found by the court and advanced by the recipient, by including within the recipient’s need expenses paid on behalf of adult children, and by finding the obligor had an ability to pay based upon a 70-80 hour work week,” it reversed and remanded this case for reconsideration of an appropriate amount of spousal support. View "Kaspari v. Kaspari" on Justia Law

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Kristen Overboe appealed a divorce judgment, an order striking a declaration, an order denying a motion to amend the findings of fact, and an order striking additional filings and granting a protection order. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the divorce judgment but remanded for the district court to specify in the order for judgment whether either or both of the parties would be permitted to marry, and if so, when. The Court affirmed the court’s order denying Overboe’s motion to amend findings of fact but vacated the April 25, 2022 order granting Jonathan Buchholz’s motion to strike and granting a protection order. The Supreme Court also granted Buchholz’s motion for attorney’s fees and awarded double costs. View "Buchholz v. Overboe" on Justia Law

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Matthew Beland and Sarah Kyte appealed after the denial of Beland’s motion for a temporary restraining order and motion for sanctions against Jeremiah Danel and Jeremiah Danel, D.D.S., P.C., and the granting of Danel’s motion for sanctions against Beland and Kyte. Beland and his former spouse shared joint legal custody over their two minor children since divorcing in 2015. Beland, with the assistance of his counsel, Kyte, filed an ex parte motion for a temporary restraining order along with a complaint seeking injunctive relief against Danel to stop dental services from being provided to Beland’s children. The complaint also sought full disclosure of the children’s dental records for services already received. The district court denied Beland’s request for a temporary restraining order and injunctive relief, and granted Danel’s motion for sanctions, finding that Beland and Kyte’s commencement of litigation was done for the improper purpose of exercising control over Beland’s former spouse’s decisions, and usurping Minnesota family court proceedings in violation of N.D.R.Civ.P. 11(b)(1). The court also found Beland’s claims lacked evidentiary support in violation of N.D.R.Civ.P. 11(b)(3). The court noted that N.D.R.Civ.P. 11(b)(2) was not violated because Beland and Kyte’s request for dental records had merit. After review of the district court decision, the North Dakota Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed. View "Beland, et al. v. Danel, et al." on Justia Law