Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the child support order requiring Father to pay post-majority support for his child, Zao, while Zao was attending college, holding that the district court abused its discretion when it ordered post-majority support.At issue was the second motion to modify support filed by the Department of Family Services, Child Support Enforcement Division. The trial court found that Zao suffered from phenylketonuria, a metabolic disorder that required a special diet and rendered Zao disabled and incapable of self-support. The court then ordered Father to continue paying support of $375 per month after high school as long as Zao was enrolled in full-time college. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court's findings were unsupported by the evidence. View "O'Roake v. State, ex rel. Department of Family Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgments of the district court granting in part and denying in part Mother's fifth motion for order to show cause and finding Father in contempt of court upon Mother's sixth motion to show cause, holding that the district court abused its discretion in awarding Mother $100 in attorney fees.After Mother and Father divorced Mother filed several post-divorce motions in the district court. At issue was her latest two motions - her fifth and sixth motion for order to show cause why Father should not be held in contempt for allegedly harassing communications since their divorce. The district court granted in part Mother's fifth motion and awarded her $100 in attorney fees. Upon Mother's sixth motion to show cause the district court found Father in contempt of court and awarded Mother attorney fees. The Supreme Court primarily affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not violate Mother's due process rights in refusing to consider Mother's exhibits at the hearing on the fifth motion; (2) did not err when it refused to visit its ruling on the fifth motion; and (3) abused its discretion when it awarded Mother $100 in attorney fees related to her fifth motion without explanation. View "Heimer v. Heimer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting the Wyoming Department of Family Service's petition to terminate Father's and Mother's parental rights under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 14-2-309(a)(iii) and (a)(v), holding that there was sufficient evidence for the district court to terminate Mother's and Father's parental rights.After a four-day bench trial, the district court held that the Department proved, by clear and convincing evidence, that Mother's and Father's parental rights should be terminated under sections 14-2-309(a)(iii) and (v) and that it was in the child's best interest to terminate their parental rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court had subject matter jurisdiction; and (2) the Department presented sufficient evidence for the district court to terminate Mother's and Father's parental rights under section 14-2-309(a)(v). View "Hood v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court entering an order requiring shared custody of a child between Mother and Father, holding that the district court erred.Father and Mother shared a child. Father filed a petition to establish custody, visitation, and child support. The district court entered a temporary custody order establishing fifty-fifty shared custody. Two years later, each parent asked for primary physical custody and requested written findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Wyo. R. Civ. P. 52(a). More than one year after the bench trial, the district court entered an order requiring shared custody. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court's delay in issuing the final order was not reversible error; but (2) the district court abused its discretion in holding that the law favors shared custody and in ordering shared custody without adequate Rule 52(a)(1)(A) findings and conclusions explaining how the arrangement was in the child's best interest. View "Castellow v. Pettengill" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the juvenile court adjudicating three minor children as neglected and the order changing the permanency plan for the adoption from reunification of the family to termination of Father's parental rights and adoption, holding that there was no plain error in the proceedings below.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the juvenile court's failure to insure Father's presence at the adjudication hearing did not deprive the court of subject matter jurisdiction to rule on the children's permanency; (2) the juvenile court violated a clear and unequivocal rule of law when it denied Father the opportunity to participate by phone in the initial hearing and failed to advise him of his rights, but there was no material prejudice to Father; and (3) the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the Department of Family Services had made reasonable efforts at reunification and that the permanency plan for the children should be changed to adoption. View "FR v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the juvenile court's order changing the permanency plan for Mother and Father's four children from reunification to adoption, holding that the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion when it found that the Department of Family Services (DFS) provided reasonable efforts to reunify the children.After an evidentiary permanency hearing the juvenile court found that reunification with Mother and Father was not in the children's best interests and that reasonable efforts to reunify were no longer required because they had been unsuccessful. The court then changed the plan to adoption. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient for the juvenile court to conclude that reasonable efforts to reunify the children with Mother and Father had been made and no further efforts were required; and (2) the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in changing the permanency plan from reunification to adoption even though specialized care was not provided to the parents. View "AW v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Father's petition for modification of alimony, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Father's request to modify alimony.The parties in this case had two children and were divorced in Connecticut. They entered into a separation agreement that was incorporated by reference into their decree of divorce that set terms for child support and alimony. Father later filed a petition to reduce alimony, asserting that the financial position of both parties had changed substantially since their divorce. The district court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court could reasonably find that Father failed to show a substantial change in circumstances that would warrant a modification of his alimony obligation. View "Boyce v. Jarvis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the juvenile court dismissing this juvenile case, holding that Mother's opening brief misstated the record and failed to comply with the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure.Mother had six children, four of which were minors. The two fathers of three of the minor children were involved in this case. Due to allegations of abuse and neglect, the juvenile court ordered the children to be placed into protective custody. The three children were placed with their fathers and the fourth was placed in a foster home. Later, the district court granted the fathers temporary custody of their children, and the fathers moved for discharge of the three children from the juvenile court action. The juvenile court granted the fathers' motion and dismissed the juvenile case. Mother filed a notice of appeal, listing twelve orders from which she was appealing. The Supreme Court summarily affirmed the juvenile court's dismissal order because Mother's brief misstated the record and failed to comply with the rules of appellate procedure. View "In re FP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court awarding Father custody of the parties' minor child subject to Mother's visitation, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it dismissed Mother's motion for an order to show cause.Upon the parties' divorce, the district court awarded Father custody of the parties' child subject to Mother's specified visitation. After Father and the child moved to Bahrain, Mother, who lived in Russia, filed a petition to modify custody and visitation. Mother filed a motion for an order to show cause. The district court dismissed the show cause motion and granted Father's modification petition, applying the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and the common law doctrine of forum non conveniens. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing Mother's show cause motion for inconvenient forum under the UCCJEA. View "Pokrovskaya v. Genderen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court denying KA's unopposed petition for adoption of minor child under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-22-101 et seq., holding that the adoption statutes did not prohibit KA from adopting the child.KA sought to adopt his ex-wife's son, with whom he had a loving relationship. Until recently, the child believed KA was his biological father, and when he learned the truth, he requested that KA adopt him. KA filed an unopposed petition to adopt the child. The district court denied the petition on the grounds that KA was married and thus not a "single adult," he did not jointly filed to adopt the child with his current wife, and his current wife was not the child's mother. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that that the adoption statutes did not prohibit KA from adopting the child. View "In re Adoption of ATWS" on Justia Law