Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the family court denying a miscellaneous petition filed by Plaintiff pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 15-5-24.1 and 15-5-24.3 for grandparent visitation with two children of her daughter, who was deceased, holding that the hearing justice was within his discretion in denying Plaintiff’s petition. Defendant, who was previously married to Plaintiff’s daughter, was the biological father of the two children at issue in this case and had full custody of the children. Plaintiff filed this petition seeking grandparent visitation alleging that Defendant had refused her visitation requests. The hearing justice denied Plaintiff’s petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice did not abuse his discretion in denying Plaintiff’s petition for grandparent visitation. View "MacTavish-Thurber v. Gauvin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of the Family Court terminating Father’s parental rights with respect to his daughter, holding that that any errors complained of were harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Specifically, the Court held that the Family Court justice (1) did not abuse her discretion by qualifying a certain witness as an expert and relying on her testimony; (2) admitting the child’s letter into evidence pursuant to R.I. R. Evid. 803(4); and (3) taking judicial notice of Form 188, the Disclosure of Permanency Planning form. View "In re Izabella G." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of the family court declaring that Mother neglected and abused her two children, Madlyn and Luke. Specifically, the Court held (1) there was sufficient evidence to support an inference that Mother had abused and neglected Luke; (2) the trial justice did not err in finding that Mother was Luke’s primary caregiver and that it was reasonable to infer that Mother either perpetrated physical abuse upon Luke or allowed the same to occur; (3) Mother’s argument that certain statements made by a physician were inadmissible hearsay was waived; and (4) the trial justice did not abuse his discretion in allowing Father to remain in the courtroom, notwithstanding Mother’s motion to sequester. View "In re Madlyn B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the family court denying Mother’s motion to relocate with the parties’ four minor children from Rhode Island to Australia, holding that the hearing justice did not overlook or misconceive material evidence in reaching his decision, nor were his factual findings clearly wrong. After a hearing on Mother’s motion, the hearing justice concluded that relocation would not be in the children’s best interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no reason to disturb the ruling of the hearing justice that relocation of the minor children to Australia would not be in their best interests. View "Ainsworth v. Ainsworth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the family court finding that Defendant and Plaintiff were married at common law, holding that the trial justice’s factual findings did not represent “a firm belief or conviction” that the parties seriously intended to enter into a mutual husband and wife relationship. Plaintiff filed for a divorce from Defendant. The family court found clear and convincing evidence that the parties were married at common law since 1995, concluding that Defendant’s testimony was largely incredible and Plaintiff’s testimony was mostly credible. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial justice misconceived the evidence in finding that Defendant and Plaintiff had a present and mutual intent to be married at common law. View "Luis v. Gaugler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the family court finding that Defendant and Plaintiff were married at common law, holding that the trial justice’s factual findings did not represent “a firm belief or conviction” that the parties seriously intended to enter into a mutual husband and wife relationship. Plaintiff filed for a divorce from Defendant. The family court found clear and convincing evidence that the parties were married at common law since 1995, concluding that Defendant’s testimony was largely incredible and Plaintiff’s testimony was mostly credible. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial justice misconceived the evidence in finding that Defendant and Plaintiff had a present and mutual intent to be married at common law. View "Luis v. Gaugler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the family court terminating Mother’s parental rights with respect to her three children. After a trial, the trial justice concluded that, by clear and convincing evidence, the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) had proven that the three children had been in the legal care and custody for at least twelve months, that DCYF had made reasonable efforts to offer Mother services to correct the situation, and that, notwithstanding DCYF’s efforts, Mother had failed to address her parenting and substance abuse issues. Further, the trial justice found that terminating Mother’s parental rights was in the best interests of the children. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice did not overlook or misconceive material evidence in finding that Mother was unfit to parent her three children, and therefore, the trial justice did not err when she terminated Mother’s parental rights as to the three children. View "In re James H." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part a family court decision pending entry of final judgment following a divorce proceeding, holding that the trial justice erred in not identifying certain assets as marital property, which would have been subject to equitable distribution upon divorce. The Court held that the trial justice (1) properly applied all the equitable-distribution factors enumerated in R.I. Gen. Laws 15-5-16.1; (2) erred in determining the marital estate by incorrectly identifying certain assets as nonmarital property; and (3) did not err in denying Husband’s request for counsel fees. View "Wu-Carter v. Carter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decree of the family court as it pertained to Mother. The decree found that Mother failed to provide Daughter with a minimum degree of care or guardianship, that Child was without proper parental care and supervision, that Mother inflicted or allowed to be inflicted upon Daughter physical injury, and that Mother created or allowed to be created a substantial risk of physical injury to Daughter. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the evidence presented was insufficient to permit a reasonable inference to be drawn that Mother abused and negligent Child. View "In re Adrina T." on Justia Law

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Sandra Armand and Gorvey Armand filed two adoption petitions so that Gorvey might become the legal father of Kai Jackson’s two sons, Kyeshon and Jarell. Jackson refused to consent to the adoptions. Thereafter, Petitioners moved to terminate Jackson’s parental rights with respect to the two boys. After a trial, the trial justice found, by clear and convincing evidence, that Jackson was unfit as a parent and that it would be in the best interests of Kyeshon and Jarell to terminate Jackson’s parental rights so that Gorvey, the boys’ stepfather, might adopt them. The trial justice then entered a decree terminating Jackson’s parental rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice did not err in terminating the parental rights of Jackson to his sons. View "In re Kyeshon J." on Justia Law