Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing without prejudice Grandmother's petition seeking temporary guardianship of Grandchild for failure to prosecute, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. Grandmother filed her petition for temporary guardianship on May 9, 2017. On June 26, 2017, the district court issued an order to show cause, noting that no action had been taken on the petition in more than two years and ordering Grandmother to show cause why the matter should not be dismissed. The court subsequently entered an order dismissing the petition with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the petition. View "In re Interest of Bass" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court establishing paternity, custody, visitation and child support, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in any aspects of its child support apportionment. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in failing to make the support obligation retroactive; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by declining to impute Father's income at the amount he earned in a previous, higher-paying position; and (3) Mother's arguments regarding allocation of responsibility for the child's medical insurance and medical costs were not ripe for review. View "Shipley v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court modifying visitation and child support after Mother moved to Idaho, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. After Mother moved to Idaho from Wyoming Father petitioned to modify custody, visitation and support, requesting physical and residential custody of the parties' daughter. Mother counterclaimed to maintain primary physical custody of the child. The district court then issued a final order concluding that Mother's move constituted a material change in circumstances and that it was in the child's best interest for Father to have primary physical and residential custody of the child. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it (1) determined that it was in the child's best interest for Father to have primary physical and residential custody of the child after she enters kindergarten; and (2) established the visitation plan. View "Walsh v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying a petition filed by Father and Stepmother for adoption of Father and Mother's two minor children pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-22-110(a)(ix), holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Mother's failure to pay seventy percent or more of court-ordered child support for a two-year period was not willful. Father and Stepmother petitioned the district court to allow Stepmother to adopt Father and Mother's two minor children based on Mother's willful failure to pay at least seventy percent of court-ordered support for a two-year period. The district court denied the petition, determining that Mother's failure to pay was not willful. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the district court's finding that Mother's failure to meet her child support obligation was not willful. View "CML v. ADBL" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's decree of divorce and order awarding custody and dividing property and debts between Father and Mother, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering supervised visitation and dividing the marital property but abused its discretion in calculating Father's child support amount. Father argued that the district court abused its discretion in restricting Father's visitation with his four children to two hours of supervised visitation every other week until Father addressed the court's concerns regarding his anger. Father further argued that the court abused its discretion when it divided the marital property and when it found him voluntarily underemployed for not working overtime. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion when it imposed supervised visitation, finding Father had abused the children, and conditioning visitation on counseling for both Father and the children; (2) did not abuse its discretion in dividing the marital property; but (3) abused its discretion when it circumvented the express statutory limitation set forth in Wyo. Stat. Ann. 20-2-303(a)(ii) prohibiting courts from including in child support calculations any earnings derived from overtime work. View "Johnson v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying the petition filed by Mother and Stepfather to adopt the minor child, ZEM, over the objection of the child's father, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the petition for adoption on best interests grounds. In their verified petition for adoption Mother and Stepfather claimed that Father failed financially to support ZEM and that it was ZEM's best interest to terminate Father's parental rights and allow Stepfather to adopt her. The district court concluded that adoption did not serve ZEM's best interests and denied the petition to adopt. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that where the district court carefully weighed conflicting evidence, determined credibility, and came to a reasonable conclusion, the court did not abuse its discretion in denying the adoption. View "JEG v. BCB" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her two minor children under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 14-2-309(a)(iii) and (v), holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion. Specifically, the Court held (1) under the circumstances of this case, the district court properly granted the motion filed by the Department of Family Services for leave to amend its petition; (2) Mother did not preserve her right to challenge the district court's allocation of peremptory challenges; and (3) clear and convincing evidence supported termination of Mother's parental rights. View "Harmon v. State, Department of Family Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Father's petition to modify alimony payments to Mother, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Father was voluntarily underemployed and in refusing to modify alimony. When Mother and Father divorced, the parties stipulated to a split custody arrangement. The district court ordered Father to pay child support of $1740 per month and monthly alimony of $1800 for five years. After Father was terminated from his job, Father filed a pro se petition to modify alimony. The district court denied Father's petition, finding that Father was voluntarily underemployed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Father's petition to modify alimony payments. View "Linden v. Linden" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court modifying custody, support and visitation awarding primary physical custody of the minor child to Father, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying a continuance of trial. After Mother's attorney was suspended from the practice of law the district court denied three separate pro se motions for continuance of trial. Following a trial, the district court found a material change of circumstances and awarded Father primary physical custody of the child, subject to visitation by Mother. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in denying Mother's motion for continuance. View "Bacus v. Coon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights, holding that even if the district court erred in admitting Mother's physician's testimony and a related 2011 medical record, Mother was not prejudiced and the error was harmless. The jury found clear and convincing evidence for termination on grounds on two separate statutory grounds. Mother appealed, arguing that the district court abused its discretion when it admitted privileged evidence through her physician's testimony and an associated medical record. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was ample evidence without the physician testimony and associated medical record to show that Mother was unfit to have custody and control of the child as required by Wyo. Stat. Ann. 14-2-309(a)(v); and (2) even assuming the testimony and medical record were privileged and the district court erred in admitting them, the error was harmless. View "Mets v. State, Department of Family Services" on Justia Law