Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court dismissed Mother's appeal from two juvenile court permanency and review orders and from the juvenile court's decision denying her motion to close the case for want of jurisdiction, holding that none of the juvenile court orders from which Mother appealed were appealable orders.The State filed a neglect petition alleging that Mother neglected her child. As the case progressed, the juvenile court held review and permanency hearings, in connection with which it issued orders. Mother appealed two of those orders and the denial of her motion to close the case. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the orders appealed from did not affect Mother's substantial rights and were not appealable. View "JW v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Diana Myers's Wyo. R. Crim. P. 60(b)(6) motion seeking relief from the parties' martial settlement agreement and divorce decree, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion.In 2019, Diana and Griffin Myers divorced. In 2021, Diana filed her motion seeking relief from the settlement agreement and divorce decree on the grounds that an asset divided pursuant to the divorce was worth significantly more than Diana believed during mediation. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Diana had no right to discovery on her Rule 60(b) motion; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it concluded that Diana's motion asserted improper grounds, was untimely, and failed to demonstrate extraordinary circumstances. View "Myers v. Myers" on Justia Law

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Mother sought sole legal and physical custody of the children, born in 2014 and 2018, plus child support and medical support. Father was properly served but failed to respond. The court held a default hearing. Father, who was in custody on a pending criminal matter, appeared but represented himself. Mother requested a “graduated” 15-month visitation schedule for Father, noting that had been in and out of jail, used drugs, and had unstable housing and employment. She asserted Father had been a roofer for approximately 10 years. A subsequent temporary order awarded Mother sole physical custody of the children, the parties shared legal custody, and Father paid no child support.Approximately 18 months later, Mother informed the court that Father had been released from prison. At a default hearing, Mother appeared with counsel. Father appeared but represented himself. The court heard no evidence, found it in the children’s best interest for the parties to have joint legal custody, Mother to have primary physical custody, and Father to have “reasonable, graduated visitation,” and ordered Father to pay $363 a month in child support. The Wyoming Supreme Court reversed. The court erred in ruling on visitation without any evidentiary basis to determine the children’s best interest and abused its discretion by calculating child support without having a sufficient evidentiary basis to determine Father’s income even though Mother failed to object. View "Hehn v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders entered by the district court in this divorce case, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.On appeal, Husband argued that the district court erred by enforcing the parties' Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) and incorporating its terms into a decree of divorce, erred when it denied his motion for sanctions for Wife's alleged failure to disclose assets, and erred when it denied his motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err by incorporating the terms for the MSA into a decree of divorce; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the motion for sanctions as moot; and (3) the MSA resolved any outstanding issues relating to forum non conveniens. View "Pellet v. Pellet" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court ruling that Jill and Shane Ailport (together, Grandparents), the grandparents of five children (collectively, Children), did not prove their right to visitation under the grandparent visitation statute, Wyo. Stat. Ann. 20-7-101, holding that Grandparents did not meet their burden of establishing that visitation was in the best interests of the children.Grandparents filed a petition against parents of Children (collectively, Parents) under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 20-7-101 to establish visitation rights with Children. Applying an enhanced best interest analysis, the district court concluded that Grandparents had not met their burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that they were entitled to visitation over Parents' objections. View "Ailport v. Ailport" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Mother's petition filed on behalf of her minor child, SGN, for a change of surname, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the petition.While Father and Mother were married, they had SGN. After they divorced, Mother remarried and took the surname of her husband. Mother then filed a verified petition in the district court to change SGN's surname to Lamb-Newman because Mother would be the primary custodian and wanted SGN to share her surname and that of her half sibling. Father objected. The district court denied the petition, finding that the name change was not in SGN's best interest and that it was detrimental to Father's interests. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court's decision to deny the name change was not an abuse of discretion. View "Lamb v. Newman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court modifying Father's child support obligation, holding that the court abused its discretion by modifying child support without first having sufficient information about Father's finances.Pursuant to an agreement incorporated into their divorce decree, Mother had primary custody of the parties' three children, and Father paid no child support. The State later petitioned to modify child support. The court entered a temporary support order on the State's petition, determining that Father's presumptive child support obligation was $832 per month. Father subsequently filed a motion seeking primary custody and an adjustment of child support. The court denied custody but modified Father's child support obligation to $134 per month. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court did not have sufficient information about Father's finances and abused its discretion by modifying child support in the absence of such information. View "Tucker v. Tucker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the juvenile court changing the permanency plan for Mother and her three children from family reunification to termination of parental rights and adoption, holding that the juvenile court abused its discretion.On appeal, Mother argued that the juvenile court abused its discretion in determining that the Wyoming Department of Family Services had made reasonable efforts to reunify Mother with her children. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the record demonstrated that the Department failed in its burden to show that it provided Mother appropriate services or genuine help to achieve reunification with her children. View "In re MA" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the juvenile court changing the permanency plan for Mother and Father's children, SMD and SND, from reunification to adoption, holding that the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the juvenile court (1) did not abuse its discretion when it found that it was in the children's best interests to change the permanency plan to adoption instead of guardianship; and (2) did not abuse its discretion when it determined there was no need for a concurrent plan of reunification upon determining that reunification efforts could cease. View "In re Interest of SMD" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Father's petition to modify child custody, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion.On appeal, Father argued that the district court abused its discretion when it (1) found a material change in circumstances had occurred warranting reconsideration of child custody but then declined to modify the custody arrangement, and (2) excluded the testimony of one of Father's witnesses at trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to modify the custody arrangement; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony of Father's witnesses at trial. View "Lackey v. Lackey" on Justia Law