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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the district court refusing to grant Petitioners' petition to terminate a guardianship and conservatorship over four children in their care, holding that the district court's findings were insufficient to allow proper appellate review. Petitioners Alicia and Sam were the mother and father of four children. The county attorney filed child in need of care (CINC) petitions regarding all four children, and the court gave temporary physical custody of the children to Sam's cousin, Malinda, and her husband, Gregory. Each child was adjudicated a child in need of care. Thereafter, Malinda filed a petition for guardianship and conservatorship. The district court granted the petition and appointed Malinda and Gregory coguardians and coconservators of the children. Petitioners later filed a petition to terminate the guardianship and conservatorship on the grounds that they now had the means to care for the children. The district court denied the petition. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that remand was required for the district court to make findings and legal conclusions that suffice to allow appellate review. View "In re Guardianship and Conservatorship of B.H." on Justia Law

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The respondents had several children together. Their youngest, a daughter, JF, was born in 2003. JF had spina bifida, and as a result, had trouble ambulating without the aid of a mobility device. Also related to spina bifida, JF has neurogenic bladder, and she must use a catheter to urinate. JF required medical care and supervision for her entire life. In October 2015, the petitioner, the Department of Health and Human Services (the Department), petitioned to remove JF from the respondents’ care. The Department alleged that the respondents had failed to adequately attend to JF’s medical needs. At a preadjudication status conference, respondents admitted certain things about their care of JF; these admissions allowed the trial court to exercise jurisdiction over JF. In taking the respondents’ pleas, the court did not advise them that they were waiving any rights. Nor did the court advise them of the consequences of their pleas. The court ultimately terminated respondents' parental rights to JF. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding In re Hatcher, 443 Mich 426 (1993), prohibited it from considering respondents’ claim that the trial court violated their due-process rights by failing to advise them of the consequences of their pleas. The Michigan Supreme Court held the Hatcher rule rested on the legal fiction that a child protective proceeding was two separate actions: the adjudication and the disposition. "With that procedural (mis)understanding, we held that a posttermination appeal of a defect in the adjudicative phase is prohibited because it is a collateral attack. This foundational assumption was wrong; Hatcher was wrongly decided, and we overrule it." It reversed the Court of Appeals, vacated the trial court's order of adjudication and order terminating the respondents’ parental rights, and remanded this case to the trial court for further proceedings. Because the trial court violated the respondents’ due-process rights by conducting an unrecorded, in camera interview of the subject child before the court’s resolution of the termination petition, a different judge was ordered to preside on remand. View "In re Ferranti" on Justia Law

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This case was an expedited appeal of a magistrate court’s termination of the parental rights of John Doe (Father) to his eight-year-old minor child (IW). John and Jane Doe I, the maternal grandmother and step-grandfather (collectively “Guardians”), filed a petition to adopt IW and terminate Father’s parental rights. Guardians alleged that Father abandoned IW and that termination was in her best interests. The magistrate court granted the Guardians’ petition, and Father timely appealed. Finding substantial and competent evidence to support the magistrate court's findings, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Does v. Doe" on Justia Law

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The juvenile court determined that mother was unfit and that it was improbable that child could be returned to mother’s care within a reasonable period of time, satisfying the requirements of ORS 419B.504. However, the court determined, the Department of Human Services had not established, as ORS 419B.500 required, that termination of mother’s parental rights was in child’s best interest. The court acknowledged that the department had proved that child had a need for permanency that could be met by terminating mother’s parental rights and permitting child’s foster parents, his maternal uncle and aunt, to adopt him. However, the court also found that child had an interest in maintaining his bond with his mother and her parents. The court suggested that child’s need for permanency could be satisfied by permitting his foster parents to serve as his permanent guardians and concluded that it was not in his best interest to terminate mother’s rights. Accordingly, the court dismissed the petition. In an en banc, split decision, the Court of Appeals determined that child’s pressing need for permanency could have been satisfied if he were “freed for adoption” and that, although naming child’s foster parents as his guardians might mitigate the effects of past disruptions, “leaving open the possibility of a return to mother creates its own instability” and was a “less-permanent” option that was not in child’s best interest. As the division in the Court of Appeals indicated, this was "a close case." The Oregon Supreme Court did not adopt the reasoning of the juvenile court in its entirety, it agreed with its conclusion that, given the particular facts presented here, it was in child’s best interest that his mother’s parental rights not be terminated. The Court of Appeals was reversed and the juvenile court affirmed. View "Dept. of Human Services v. T. M. D." on Justia Law

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In this divorce case, the Supreme Court affirmed on direct appeal the order of the circuit court on remand from the Supreme Court but reversed and remanded on cross appeal, holding that the circuit court erred in calculating the amount Nancy Moore was ordered to reimburse John David Moore (David) for his payments on a parcel of real property referred to as "Granny's Place." When this case was first before the Supreme Court the Court reversed the circuit court's division of certain property and award of alimony and remand. David appealed from the circuit court's order on remand, and Nancy cross-appealed. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in dividing the marital property unequally under the circumstances of this case; (2) did not clearly err in valuing and dividing the martial livestock; (3) did not err in holding David in contempt; but (4) erred by awarding David his request for reimbursement for payments he made toward the principal indebtedness on Granny's Place. View "Moore v. Moore" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals' decision holding that the family court erred in declining to conduct a special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) hearing at the disposition phase of a dependency, neglect and abuse case regarding an unaccompanied Guatemalan child (Child), holding that the Kentucky General Assembly has not specifically directed Kentucky's courts to make SIJ findings. Child was detained by United States immigration authorities in Arizona and temporarily placed with a cousin pending immigration proceedings. An adult resident of Newport, Kentucky filed a dependency petition in the Campbell County Family Court regarding Child. The court concluded that it was without the jurisdictional authority to undertake SIJ findings because such findings were not relevant to the core dependency, neglect, and abuse matters before the court. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Kentucky courts are not required to make additional findings related to SIJ classification unless the court first determines that the evidence to be gathered from such a hearing is relevant to the child's best interests. View "Commonwealth, Cabinet for Health & Family Services v. N.B.D." on Justia Law

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At the direction of the trial court, respondent Rebecca Tam filed a petition seeking to join appellant Dr. John Kachorek as a party to the marital dissolution proceeding between her and her former husband, Paul Benner. In her petition, Rebecca outlined the unusual procedural history of this case that led to her filing the petition for joinder. The trial court dissolved Rebecca and Paul's marriage in June 2010. In May 2011, Paul filed a postjudgment motion seeking modification of child custody. In June 2013, the trial court appointed Dr. Kachorek, pursuant to Evidence Code section 730, to conduct a child custody evaluation. Dr. Kachorek issued a child custody evaluation report in 2014. In 2016, the trial court determined that Dr. Kachorek's report was deficient in a number of respects and that the report was thus of no value in assisting the court in determining what would be the appropriate child custody arrangement. The court ordered Dr. Kachorek to repay Rebecca and Paul all of the expert fees that they had paid him pursuant to his appointment. In March 2017, the trial court set aside the repayment order and joined Dr. Kachorek, sua sponte, as a party to the action for the purpose of determining whether to order him to repay the fees. The trial court subsequently granted Dr. Kachorek's motion to quash the sua sponte joinder order and ordered Rebecca to file a formal petition to join Dr. Kachorek in the action. When she did, Dr. Kachorek filed a special motion to strike the petition pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute, arguing "the claims asserted in the petition arise from protected activity" under the statute. Rebecca opposed the motion, in which she argued that her petition "does not even contain a cause of action," and that she sought merely to provide Dr. Kachorek with notice of a hearing regarding his fees under Evidence Code section 730, as directed by the trial court. The trial court denied Dr. Kachorek's anti- SLAPP motion, concluding that the petition did not state a cause of action arising from protected activity, but rather, merely joined Dr. Kachorek to the action for the purpose of "establishing the reasonableness of his fees." The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court properly denied Dr. Kachorek's motion, though it found Dr. Kachorek did not have to be joined as a party to the dissolution action in order for the court to determine the reasonableness of his expert fees—including whether to order him to repay fees already received—and it was error for the court to require that he be joined in the action. The matter was remanded with instruction on the proper procedural manner by which the trial court could determine this issue on remand. View "Marriage of Benner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's and Father's parental rights to their child, holding that the record contained competent evidence to support the court's findings, by clear and convincing evidence, of both parents' parental unfitness. Specifically, the Court held (1) the court's findings of unfitness were supported by competent record evidence; and (2) the court did not violate Mother's due process rights by denying her motion to continue and then commencing the termination hearing in her absence with the knowledge that she had been arrested, as Mother failed to show that she was prejudiced by her partial absence. View "In re Child of Raul R." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights to her child, holding that the court did not err in determining that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the best interest of her child. After a termination hearing, the court determined that the child's best interest would be served through the permanency plan of adoption. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that, given the strength of the record, particularly the length of time the child had been in kinship care and Mother's consistent and demonstrated inability to provide a safe and stable home for the child, the court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the child's best interest. View "In re Child of Shannon S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating the parental rights of Mother and Father to their child, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. On appeal, Mother argued that the district court erred in denying her motion for relief from the termination judgment, in which she alleged that she received ineffective assistance of counsel. Father argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the termination of his parental rights. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Mother's motion for relief from the termination of her parental rights; and (2) there was sufficient evidence in the record to support the court's termination of Father's parental rights. View "In re Child of Dawn B." on Justia Law