Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries
In re J.H.
Respondent, the mother of J.H. (Mother), appealed a circuit court order finding that she neglected her son, J.H. On appeal, Mother argued the trial court erred because, as a matter of law, she could not be found neglectful when another person was the legal guardian of J.H. In the alternative, she contended the evidence in the record was insufficient to support the neglect finding. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "In re J.H." on Justia Law
In re H.C.
Respondent, the mother of H.C., appealed a circuit court order that terminated her parental rights after the court found that she had been convicted of a felony assault which resulted in injury to H.C.’s sibling. The issues this case presented to the New Hampshire Supreme Court were: (1) whether RSA 170-C:5, VII(d) applied in this case when H.C. was born after the date of the felony assault; (2) whether RSA 170-C:5, VII(d) applied to convictions obtained outside the State of New Hampshire; and (3) whether the trial court erred in finding that termination of the respondent’s parental rights was in H.C.’s best interest. Because the Supreme Court concluded RSA 170-C:5, VII(d) applied and that the trial court did not err in ruling that termination of the respondent’s parental rights was in H.C.’s best interest, the Court affirmed its decision. View "In re H.C." on Justia Law
In re Z.S.-1
The Supreme Court vacated the order of the circuit court terminating the parental rights of Father and Mother two their two minor children, holding that numerous procedural errors substantially affected the integrity of the underlying proceedings.On appeal, Mother and Father argued that the circuit court erred by terminating their parental rights in its dispositional order. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the circuit court properly adjudicated the children and the parents in the underlying abuse and neglect proceedings. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court's order, holding (1) the circuit court erred in adjudicating Z.S.-1 as a neglected child and Mother and Father as neglectful parents based upon the parents' defective stipulations; and (2) because the circuit court could not locate any definitive adjudication of Z.S.-2 as an abused and/or neglected child or of Mother or Father as abusive and/or neglectful of Z.S.2 the circuit court's dispositional order as to Z.S.-2 must be vacated. View "In re Z.S.-1" on Justia Law
Marriage of Motiska & Ford
The parties married in 2001 and separated in 2011. Before the marriage, the husband operated a nursery as a sole proprietorship. After the marriage, the husband formed a corporation to operate the business. In 2003, the nursery business was “sold” to the corporation for $1 In the dissolution action, the court rejected the husband’s contention that the corporation was a continuation of the pre-existing business and that the business was presumptively community property.On interlocutory appeal, the court of appeal affirmed that the husband did not have a claim for reimbursement under Family Code section 2640 for contributions of separate property to a community asset. The $1 sale price is not determinative. A spouse who decides to sell property to the community is electing not to contribute the property “freely and without reservation” “to benefit the community.” It also is not a “general expectation” (ibid.) of most spouses that if they sell separate property to the community, they will nevertheless receive additional reimbursement for the transferred property, over and above the sale price, if the community dissolves. View "Marriage of Motiska & Ford" on Justia Law
In re N.W.
In these consolidated abuse and neglect appeals the Supreme Court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction Mother's appeal and affirmed the judgment of the circuit court terminating Father's parental rights to baby N.W., holding that there was no reason to disturb the circuit court's judgment.After a hearing, the circuit court terminated the parental rights of Mother and Father to N.W., concluding that there was no reasonable likelihood that the conditions of abuse or neglect could be substantially corrected. N.W. was subsequently adopted, and the court denied Petitioners' motion for post-termination visitation. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal brought by Mother and affirmed the circuit court's order terminating Father's parental rights, holding (1) Mother's appeal presented an issue that was not ripe, divesting this Court of jurisdiction; and (2) the circuit court did not err in terminating Father's parental rights. View "In re N.W." on Justia Law
In re B.P.
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court adjudicating Petitioner as a neglectful parent because of his failure to provide for B.P.'s basic needs due to Petitioner's absence from her life as a result of his incarceration, holding that the circuit court did not base its adjudication of Petitioner on drug use.On appeal, Petitioner challenged the termination of his parental rights based on what he argued was the circuit court's improper adjudication for drug use. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding (1) there was no merit to Petitioner's argument that he was improperly adjudicated based upon alleged drug use; (2) a parent's absence from a child's life because of incarceration that results in the inability of the parent to provide for their children's basic needs is a form of neglect under the definition of "neglected child" set forth in W. Va. Code 49-1-201; and (3) the circuit court appropriately considered all of the factors in adjudicating Petitioner as a neglectful parent. View "In re B.P." on Justia Law
In re C.L.
The Supreme Court vacated the dispositional orders of the circuit court terminating Father's parental rights to his four children, holding that the circuit court erroneously failed to follow the process established by the West Virginia Rules of Procedure for Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings and related statutes.The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) filed a petition alleging abuse and neglect after Petitioner was seen living out of a car with two of his children and their mother. In an amended petition, DHHR added Father's two other children, despite the fact that the children had not seen Father for years and lived with a different mother. The circuit court ultimately terminated Father's parental rights to all four children - two on the basis of abandonment and two because of inadequate housing. The Supreme Court vacated the dispositional orders, holding that remand was required for further proceedings because the circuit court clearly erred by failing to follow the West Virginia Rules of Procedure for Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings and related statutes. View "In re C.L." on Justia Law
McInerney v. Kramer
The Supreme Court summarily affirmed the judgment of the district court in this marriage dissolution action, holding that the district court did not err in granting Wife's motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Wyo. R. Civ. P. 59, and this Court declines to impose sanctions under Wyo. R. App. P. 10.05.After a bench trial the district court entered a decree of divorce dividing the martial assets and ordering Wife to make a lump sum equalization payment to Husband subject to statutory interest. Wife moved to alter or amend the judgment requesting a payment plan without interest for the equalization payment. The district court granted the motion. The Supreme Court summarily affirmed, holding that Husband's brief on appeal was deficient in several respects and lacked cogent argument. View "McInerney v. Kramer" on Justia Law
In re Adoption of R.L.
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying the petition brought by Petitioners, Mother and Stepfather, to allow Stepfather to adopt R.L., a minor child, holding that W. Va. Code 48-22-306(a) does not preclude a finding of abandonment in a case where the birth parent has the ability to ascertain the child's whereabouts during the relevant time frame but willfully fails to do so.Because Respondent Father contested R.L.'s adoption the circuit court was require to analyze whether Father abandoned the child under section 48-22-306. The circuit court denied the adoption petition, concluding that Father did not abandon R.L. because (1) section 48-22-306(a)(2) permits a finding of abandonment only where the parent "fails to visit or otherwise communicate with the child when [he] knows where the child resides"; and (2) Father did not know where R.L. resided at the time the adoption petition was filed or in the preceding six months. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded this case for further proceedings, holding that the circuit court erred in concluding that it was precluding from finding abandonment because Father did not know where R.L. resided without any consideration as to whether Father could have ascertained that information. View "In re Adoption of R.L." on Justia Law
Dawson v. Ojeda
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the family court trial justice affirming the decision and order entered by the General Magistrate of the family court granting Plaintiff's motion to relocate permanently to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with the parties' minor child, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff filed this action and an ex parte motion seeking temporary custody and physical possession of the parties' child. The court granted the motion, after which Plaintiff filed a verified emergency motion to relocate to Massachusetts. The family court granted the emergency motion to relocate. The general magistrate granted the motion to relocate, and the family court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the family court did not erroneously affirm the general magistrate's decision and order concluding that allowing Plaintiff to relocate permanently to Massachusetts was in the child's best interests. View "Dawson v. Ojeda" on Justia Law