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Daniel Peltier appealed an order denying his motion for relief from a child support judgment. Peltier argued the district court erred in denying his motion because the Turtle Mountain Tribal Court had exclusive subject matter jurisdiction to decide his child support obligation. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the state district court had concurrent jurisdiction to decide Peltier's child support obligation, and the district court did not err in denying his motion for relief from the judgment. View "North Dakota v. Peltier" on Justia Law

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J.G., the mother of minor child J.J.T, appealed a judgment terminating her parental rights to the child. J.G. argued the juvenile court erred: (1) in finding J.J.T. was deprived; (2) in denying her court-appointed counsel's motion for a continuance to prepare for trial; (3) in granting her court-appointed counsel's motion to withdraw as counsel of record and appointing that counsel as standby counsel; and (4) in denying her statutory right to counsel. Because the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in denying a continuance and in allowing withdrawal of counsel, J.G.'s actions were the functional equivalent of a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent waiver of her right to counsel, and the statutory requirements for termination of J.G.'s parental rights were satisfied. Therefore, the Court affirmed the judgment. View "Interest of J.J.T." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court holding Appellant in contempt for failing to comply with the parties’ divorce decree. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court (1) violated principles of res judicata by receiving testimony in a contempt hearing on matters previously adjudicated at trial, and (2) abused its discretion when it found Appellant in contempt. The Supreme Court held (1) because Appellant failed to provide a record of the contempt hearing, the first issue will not be considered, and even if res judicata principles applied, Appellant’s argument was without merit; and (2) because no transcript of the hearing was provided, the Court must assume that the district court’s findings and rulings are correct, and thus they are summarily affirmed. View "Rigdon v. Rigdon" on Justia Law

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Both of ten-year-old Jane Doe II’s parents passed away in 2017. A family friend with whom Jane and her mother had been living (“Friend”) petitioned for guardianship of Jane. Jane’s father’s twin sister (“Aunt”) also petitioned for guardianship. During proceedings the magistrate court appointed a local attorney, Auriana Clapp-Younggren (“Clapp-Younggren”), to serve as both the attorney and the guardian ad litem for Jane. After trial the magistrate court followed Clapp-Younggren’s recommendation and awarded temporary guardianship to Friend so that Jane could finish the school year, but appointed Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian. Friend appealed the magistrate court decision. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the magistrate court abused its discretion by failing to conduct a reasonable inquiry into whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney. The final decree appointing Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian was vacated and the case was remanded so that the magistrate court can conduct a hearing to determine whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney prior to a new trial. View "In the Interest of Jane Doe II (under 18)" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating the parental rights of Father and Mother (together, Parents) to their son pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a) and (B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii). On appeal, Parents challenged the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the district court’s findings of unfitness and best interest and the court’s discretionary determination that termination of parental rights was in the child’s best interest. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the evidence supported the court’s factual findings and discretionary determinations; and (2) the court did not abuse its discretion in determining that termination of Parents’ parental rights was in the child’s best interest. View "In re Child of Everett S." on Justia Law

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Defendant Liana Roy was convicted of custodial interference for taking her four-year-old daughter, who was then in Department for Children and Families (DCF) custody, on a two-day trip out of the state without DCF’s permission. After the jury returned its verdict, the trial court granted defendant’s motion for a judgment of acquittal, concluding that, in the absence of a court order specifying defendant’s parent-child contact, defendant was not criminally liable. The central question presented for the Vermont Supreme Court's review in this case was whether a parent may be convicted of custodial interference under 13 V.S.A. 2451 for interfering with the custody of the DCF in the absence of a court order specifying the schedule and limitations of the parent’s visitation. The Court held section 2451 did not require such an order and that the evidence of defendant’s knowing and egregious actions in derogation of DCF’s custodial rights supported her conviction. Accordingly, the Court reversed. View "Vermont v. Roy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted the writ of prohibition sought by Foster Parents and remanded this case with directions to the circuit court to vacate its order granting Biological Parents post-dispositional improvement periods in excess of statutory time limitations, to grant Foster Parents’ motion to intervene, and to schedule this matter for disposition. After eight weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, J.L. was placed into foster care with Foster Parents. Biological Parents admitted to abuse and neglect, and a post-adjudicatory improvement period was ordered for each. Foster Parents moved to intervene, but the circuit court denied the motion. Upon the request of the guardian ad litem to revoke Biological Parents’ improvement periods, the circuit court awarded a six-month post-dispositional improvement period to Biological Parents. The Supreme Court granted Foster Parents’ requested writ of prohibition, holding (1) Foster Parents were absolutely entitled to participate in all court proceedings by virtue of W. Va. 49-4-601(h); (2) foster parents are entitled to intervention as a matter of right when the time limitations contained in W. Va. Code 49-4-605(b) and/or 49-4-610(b) are implicated; and (3) upon issuance of the writ, the circuit court is directed to schedule this matter for disposition at its earliest opportunity. View "State ex rel. C.H. v. Honorable Laura V. Faircloth" on Justia Law

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A father requested primary physical custody of his daughter, modifying a previous shared custody arrangement. The mother opposed the change, arguing there had not been a substantial change in circumstances. The superior court ordered a limited custody investigation to resolve a factual dispute related to the change in circumstances, promising a second hearing on the daughter’s best interests. But after the custody investigator reported that the daughter wanted to live with the father, the court granted the father primary physical custody without holding a second hearing. The mother appealed, arguing solely that her due process rights were violated by the failure to hold the second hearing. The Alaska Supreme Court vacated the custody modification and remanded for further proceedings because the failure to hold the second hearing denied the mother due process. View "Laura B. v. Wade B." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a premarital agreement provision waiving an award of attorney fees related to issues of child or spousal support is categorically prohibited by Iowa Code 596.5(2), and Iowa Code 596.5(1)(g) prohibits fee-shifting bar provisions as to child-custody issues. The parties in this case executed a premarital agreement waiving the right to seek an award of attorney fees in the event of a dissolution of their marriage. During their dissolution proceeding, Wife requested an award of attorney fees arising from litigating issues of child custody, child support, and spousal support. The district court declined to award attorney fees, concluding that, in the absence of any articulated public policy of the state, it did not have authority to ignore the plain language of the parties’ premarital agreement. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the waiver provision in the premarital agreement was unenforceable as to child-related issues because it violates public policy. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals decision on its award of attorney fees for child-related issues but vacated the part of the decision regarding attorney fees for spousal support, holding that the premarital agreement was also unenforceable as to the spousal-support issues. View "Erpelding v. Erpelding" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s termination of Mother’s parental rights to her minor children, holding that Mother may not collaterally attack the juvenile court’s permanency order during prior neglect proceedings by appealing the district court’s termination of parental rights order. In 2014, the State filed a juvenile neglect action against Mother. In 2015, Mother admitted to the neglect allegations. While reunification was first recommended as the initial permanency goal, the permanency plan was later changed to termination of parental rights and adoption. The Department of Family Services then filed a civil action to terminate Mother’s parental rights. The district court terminated Mother’s parental rights after a bench trial. On appeal, Mother argued solely that the juvenile court violated her due process rights in the neglect proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Mother’s remedy was in juvenile court. View "Reed v. State, Department of Family Services" on Justia Law