Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Oregon Supreme Court
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In February 2005, the parties stipulated to a judgment dissolving their marriage. At that time, the parties had been married for seven years and had two minor children, then ages four and six. The judgment provided that the parties would have joint legal custody of their children, with mother having primary physical custody and father having reasonable parenting time. It also required that father pay child support of $1,750 per month, which exceeded by $8 the presumptively correct amount indicated by application of the Oregon Child Support Guidelines Formula (Child Support Formula). The judgment provided that neither party would seek modification of that support obligation. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether that stipulation could be enforced. And after review, the Court concluded that the trial court did not err in enforcing the parties' nonmodification agreement in accordance with Oregon law. View "Matar v. Harake" on Justia Law

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In this juvenile dependency proceeding, a father was found by the court to have subjected one of his children to sexual abuse. Although the child was unavailable to testify at the proceedings, the juvenile court admitted into evidence child's out-of-court statements. Father contended that the juvenile court's theory for admitting the statements - that they were the statements of a party-opponent and, therefore, not hearsay -was a fundamental misunderstanding of the evidence rule pertaining to statements of party-opponents. Furthermore, Father argued that the court's admission of child's out-of-court statements under OEC 801(4)(b)(A) violated his (father's) right to due process and to a proceeding that was fundamentally fair. Upon review, the Supreme Court agreed with father that the juvenile court erred in admitting the child's statements under OEC 801(4)(b)(A), and concluded that the error was not harmless. Accordingly, the Court reversed the juvenile court's judgments and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Dept. of Human Services v. G. D. W." on Justia Law

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At issue in this dependency case was the lawfulness of a juvenile court order that required a father not to interfere with the ability of a child who is a ward of the court to visit other children who live with the father but are not wards of the court. The Court of Appeals concluded that the juvenile court possessed the authority to enter the order under ORS 419B.337(3). "J.R.F," the Father in this case, contended that the Court of Appeals erred in its holding, because the order at issue did not involve visitation "by the parents or the siblings." The Department of Human Services (DHS) contended that the Court of Appeals was correct, because, although ORS 419B.337(3) did not explicitly authorize the order at issue, the dependency statutes, taken as a whole, authorized the court to "make any order designed to further the best interest of a ward and advance the reunification of the family." Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court concluded that even if the state was correct about the scope of the authority that the statutes conferred on the juvenile court, the record in this case was inadequate to support the order at issue. The Court therefore reversed the opinion of the Court of Appeals and vacated the order of the juvenile court.