Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting the government's request to garnish Appellant's husband's 401(k) account and apply the proceeds to his nearly four million dollar criminal restitution obligations, holding that Appellant had no vested legal interest in her husband's account.Appellant's husband (Husband) pleaded guilty to eight counts of wire fraud, money laundering, and unlawful monetary transactions. The district court sentenced him to a term of incarceration and ordered him to pay $3,879,750 in restitution. The government later asked the district court for a writ of garnishment directed at Husband's 401(k) plan, which Husband held individually in his own name. The district court rejected Appellant's objections and issued a garnishment order. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Massachusetts law did not give Appellant a vested legal interest in Husband's 401(k) account; and (2) it was not plain error for the district court to issue the writ of garnishment without compensating Appellant for her contingent death benefit under the policy. View "United States v. Abell" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Mother's petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction for return of her son (Child) to Venezuela from the United States, holding that the district court properly exercised its discretion in refusing Mother's petition.Mother sought Child's return to Venezuela, alleging that Father abducted Child in contravention of The Hague Convention and a Venezuelan child custody order. The district court concluded that Father admitted to retaining Child in contravention of the Hague Convention but that Father had established that Child was a mature child such that the court should consider Child's stated desire to remain with Father in the United States. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not clearly err in rejecting Mother's claim that Father unduly influenced Child and in determining that Child was of the age and maturity to state his viewpoint that he should remain in the United States and not return to Venezuela. View "Avendano v. Balza" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint seeking to recoup assets purportedly gifted to a charitable institution for less than adequate consideration by Plaintiff's ex-husband, holding that the district court erred by dismissing Plaintiff's claims on the basis that she lacked standing.Janet and Robert Foisie entered into a divorce settlement agreement in which each party agreed to a mutually acceptable split of assets. When Janet discovered that Robert had fraudulent transferred several million dollars to the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Janet brought a civil action against WPI asserting claims of actual and constructive fraudulent transfers under both the common law and Connecticut's version of the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA). The district court dismissed the complaint. The First Circuit vacated the judgment, holding (1) Janet easily satisfied the three elements of Article III standing, and her claims were ripe; (2) a choice-of-law analysis would be better performed on a more fully developed factual record; (3) the district court erred by dismissing Janet's UFTA claims on the basis that she lacked standing as a creditor; (4) the dismissal of Janet's common law claims on preemption grounds cannot stand; and (5) Janet's UFTA and common law claims were adequately pleaded. View "Foisie v. Worcester Polytechnic Institute" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decisions of the district court ordering the return of A.C.A., the child that Mother "wrongfully removed" from Brazil, holding that the district court did not err in finding that the two affirmative defenses to return under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction did not apply and did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant's motion for a new trial.Without Father's consent or knowledge, Mother took A.C.A. from Brazil, where the parties lived, to the United States. Father filed a Hague Convention petition seeking the return of A.C.A. to Brazil. The district court concluded that Mother had wrongfully removed A.C.A. from Brazil and ordered that A.C.A. be returned to Brazil. Mother moved for a new trial, which the district court denied. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in concluding that Mother had not met her burden of proof as to any of her defenses; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Mother's motion for a new trial. View "da Silva v. de Aredes" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Father's petition brought under The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act seeking return of his child from the United States to Chile on the basis that Mother had wrongfully retained the child in violation of his custody rights, holding that the district court did not err.In denying Father's petition the trial judge ruled, among other things, that clear and convincing evidence established that the child faced a grave risk of harm if sent back to Chile. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that where the district judge was in a unique position to gauge the child's credibility, none of Father's arguments left this Court with a firm conviction that the district judge made a mistake on the grave-risk issue. View "Diaz-Alarcon v. Flandez-Marcel" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s action on the grounds that the lawsuit was, in essence, an appeal from a state-court judgment, and therefore, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear it under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, holding that the district court correctly held that it lacked jurisdiction to hear Plaintiff’s claims.This appeal arose from Plaintiff’s legal challenge seeking to void two Massachusetts Superior Court conditions of probation imposed on the adult male who was convicted of statutory rape after impregnating Plaintiff when she was a minor. One of those conditions ordered the defendant to acknowledge paternity of the child. The district court decided that it did not have jurisdiction over the claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that because the relief Plaintiff sought was based on her claim that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court erred in the adjudication of her case, the district court properly dismissed this case for want of jurisdiction. View "Tyler v. Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts" on Justia Law

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A trial court that wishes to us the McDonnell Douglas framework, see McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-804 (1973), as part of its jury instructions should translate it into everyday parlance and fit it to the facts and circumstances of a particular case.In this case alleging violations of federal and state law, including the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court entering a take-nothing verdict in favor of Defendants. Plaintiff moved for a new trial, arguing, among other things, that the district court erred in employing the McDonnell Douglas framework in its jury instructions. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court’s jury instructions as a whole were satisfactory. View "Teixeira v. Town of Coventry" on Justia Law

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A trial court that wishes to us the McDonnell Douglas framework, see McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-804 (1973), as part of its jury instructions should translate it into everyday parlance and fit it to the facts and circumstances of a particular case.In this case alleging violations of federal and state law, including the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court entering a take-nothing verdict in favor of Defendants. Plaintiff moved for a new trial, arguing, among other things, that the district court erred in employing the McDonnell Douglas framework in its jury instructions. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court’s jury instructions as a whole were satisfactory. View "Teixeira v. Town of Coventry" on Justia Law