Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

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Raisa Pinto ("Mother") and Sailesh Arulkumar ("Father") were married in 2015. Both parents were trained physicians who attended medical school in India. In the summer of 2017, the couple moved to Oklahoma to allow Mother to attend a three-year Hematology and Oncology fellowship at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center ("OUHSC"). In July 2017, shortly after beginning her fellowship, Mother gave birth to the couple's only child. At the time, Father was working in Tulsa, commuting from the couple's home in Oklahoma City. He later took a job in Oklahoma City to reduce his commute time. In April 2018, Mother filed for divorce in Oklahoma County. The trial court granted the couple's divorce on the grounds of incompatibility. In its order, the trial court designated Mother as the custodial parent, but ordered equal visitation time. The couple has adhered to the custody plan and split time with their child equally since the divorce. While completing the final year of her fellowship, Mother began her search for employment. During her job search, Mother applied to 120 positions and underwent thirty interviews. Of those interviews, Mother received seven job offers for positions located in California, New York, and Pennsylvania. Mother did not receive any job offers in Oklahoma. Prior to accepting an out of state job offer, Mother contacted Father to inquire if he knew of any job openings in Oklahoma. The next day Mother accepted an offer from a hospital in New York. Later that month, Mother notified Father of her intent to relocate to which Father timely objected. Although finding Mother's request was made in good faith, the trial court denied the relocation request finding Father met his burden showing relocation was not in the child's best interest. Mother appealed the trial court's ruling. After its review, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Mother's proposed relocation. View "Arulkumar v. Arulkumar" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court awarding Mother primary physical custody of the parties' daughter, CP, holding that the district court's findings were sufficient to support the court's order awarding Mother primary physical custody of CP.In 2017, Father filed his petition under Wyo. R. Crim. P. 52(a) to establish custody, visitation, and child support. In 2020, the district court entered an order requiring the parties to share physical custody of TP. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed, ruling that the district court's Rule 52(a) findings were insufficient under the circumstances. On remand, the district court awarded Mother primary physical custody of TP. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court's order made findings of fact sufficient to meet the requirements of Rule 52(a). View "Pettengill v. Castellow" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the district court striking Mother's "motion to reopen evidence" on Father's motion to modify child support because she failed to pay a filing fee, holding that Mother was not required to pay a filing fee.More than a decade after the parties divorced, Father filed a motion to modify child support seeking a reduction in his support obligation because the parties' oldest child had graduated from high school. The trial court granted the motion. Mother later filed her motion to reopen evidence asserting that she had discovered evidence showing that Father's actual income was significantly higher than the income imputed to him by the trial court in its order. The trial court struck the motion as incomplete for lack of a filing fee. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment below, holding that Mother's motion was exempt from the filing fee. View "Davies v. Davies" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Louis Lafasciano petitioned the New Hampshire Supreme Court for review of a decision of respondent, New Hampshire Retirement System Board of Trustees (Board), that rescinded a previously-granted termination of the survivorship benefit of his former spouse, intervenor Margaret Murray, in his state pension. At the time he retired, petitioner named intervenor, then his spouse, as his survivor beneficiary, thereby reducing the amount of the retirement benefit he received during his lifetime. Under the law then in effect, a retired member who designated his or her spouse as survivor beneficiary could terminate that designation during the spouse’s lifetime only if the parties divorced and the spouse remarried. Petitioner and intervenor divorced in 2014. In 2016, the New Hampshire legislature amended RSA 100-A:13 to provide an additional circumstance under which a retired member could terminate a previously-elected spousal survivorship benefit. In November 2016, petitioner requested that intervenor be removed as his primary death beneficiary, stating that the two had been “divorced for two years now, and since the change in state legislation this past August [he] believe[d] that [his] request [could] now be honored.” In July 2020, NHRS informed the petitioner that his 2016 request for termination of his survivor benefit option had been processed in error. It further informed him that NHRS would be “rescinding that termination and reinstituting the 100% joint and survivor option you originally selected for your former spouse” and would be “instituting recoupment proceedings to recover the cumulative pop-up amount that has been paid to you since December 2016.” Petitioner appealed the Board's decision. The Supreme Court found that petitioner did not have a unilateral right to revoke his election of a spousal survivorship benefit. "[A]bsent his former spouse’s remarriage, he may terminate such an election only if his divorce decree 'provides that the former spouse shall renounce any claim to a retirement allowance under RSA 100-A.'" Because the divorce decree here did not require intervenor to renounce her claim to a survivorship benefit, petitioner could not terminate the benefit under the statute. Judgment was thus affirmed. View "Petition of Louis Lafasciano" on Justia Law

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In this case, which orginated from a marital dissolution action, the Second Appellate District affirmed the trial court's decision to award attorney's fees based on one of the party's frivolous motions to disqualify the other's attorney. The appellate court determined that the fact that the underlying action was voluntarily dismissed did not divest the court of jurisdiction to issue the award of attorney's fees. View "Marriage of Blake & Langer" on Justia Law

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Father challenged a juvenile court’s order requiring him to undergo a psychological evaluation and follow its recommendations. ORS 419B.387 authorized a juvenile court, following an evidentiary hearing, to “order [a] parent to participate in the treatment or training” that “is needed by [the] parent to correct the circumstances that resulted in wardship or to prepare the parent to resume the care of the ward” and that “is in the ward’s best interests.” Father contended the psychological evaluation did not qualify as “treatment” and that, even if it did, it was not “needed” by father. Thus, the issue this case presented for the Oregon Supreme Courr’s review centered on the meaning of those terms in ORS 419B.387 and whether that statute authorized the juvenile court to order the psychological evaluation here. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the juvenile court’s order was authorized under ORS 419B.387. View "Dept. of Human Services v. F. J. M." on Justia Law

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Thomas Kaspari appealed an amended judgment entered following a reversal and remand of an award of spousal support. On remand, the district court supplemented its findings and confirmed its prior spousal support award. Kaspari argued on appeal that the court did not adequately explain its decision and its findings are clearly erroneous. Because, after review, the North Dakota Supreme Court was “left with a definite and firm conviction a mistake has been made in awarding spousal support, without adequate explanation, in an amount more than double the recipient’s expenses as found by the court and advanced by the recipient, by including within the recipient’s need expenses paid on behalf of adult children, and by finding the obligor had an ability to pay based upon a 70-80 hour work week,” it reversed and remanded this case for reconsideration of an appropriate amount of spousal support. View "Kaspari v. Kaspari" on Justia Law

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Kristen Overboe appealed a divorce judgment, an order striking a declaration, an order denying a motion to amend the findings of fact, and an order striking additional filings and granting a protection order. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the divorce judgment but remanded for the district court to specify in the order for judgment whether either or both of the parties would be permitted to marry, and if so, when. The Court affirmed the court’s order denying Overboe’s motion to amend findings of fact but vacated the April 25, 2022 order granting Jonathan Buchholz’s motion to strike and granting a protection order. The Supreme Court also granted Buchholz’s motion for attorney’s fees and awarded double costs. View "Buchholz v. Overboe" on Justia Law

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Matthew Beland and Sarah Kyte appealed after the denial of Beland’s motion for a temporary restraining order and motion for sanctions against Jeremiah Danel and Jeremiah Danel, D.D.S., P.C., and the granting of Danel’s motion for sanctions against Beland and Kyte. Beland and his former spouse shared joint legal custody over their two minor children since divorcing in 2015. Beland, with the assistance of his counsel, Kyte, filed an ex parte motion for a temporary restraining order along with a complaint seeking injunctive relief against Danel to stop dental services from being provided to Beland’s children. The complaint also sought full disclosure of the children’s dental records for services already received. The district court denied Beland’s request for a temporary restraining order and injunctive relief, and granted Danel’s motion for sanctions, finding that Beland and Kyte’s commencement of litigation was done for the improper purpose of exercising control over Beland’s former spouse’s decisions, and usurping Minnesota family court proceedings in violation of N.D.R.Civ.P. 11(b)(1). The court also found Beland’s claims lacked evidentiary support in violation of N.D.R.Civ.P. 11(b)(3). The court noted that N.D.R.Civ.P. 11(b)(2) was not violated because Beland and Kyte’s request for dental records had merit. After review of the district court decision, the North Dakota Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed. View "Beland, et al. v. Danel, et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting the visitation action brought by Grandparents against Parents seeking visitation with their grandchildren, holding that the district court violated Parents' fundamental constitutional right to raise their children as they see fit.Grandparents brought this action under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 20-7-101(a) after a conflict with Parents. The district court judgment in favor of Grandparents and awarded them the right to open and unmonitored contact with the children and monthly and summer visitation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, when it ordered grandparent visitation, the district court did not adequately protect Parents' fundamental constitutional right to rear their children as they see fit. View "Bowman v. Study" on Justia Law