Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Family Law
Holm v. Holm
In the State of North Dakota, Joshua Holm appealed from a district court's decision to issue a disorderly conduct restraining order preventing him from contacting Heidi Holm for six months. The couple's marriage had deteriorated and they agreed to separate; however, Heidi alleged that Joshua had taken money from her safe and joint checking accounts, attempted to force her into sex, and had weapons, causing her to fear him. The Supreme Court of North Dakota reversed the decision, stating that the district court had abused its discretion by issuing the restraining order without finding that Joshua intended to adversely affect Heidi's safety, security, or privacy. The court noted that while Joshua had admittedly visited the marital home against Heidi’s wishes, this alone did not establish reasonable grounds for a restraining order. The court concluded that Heidi, as the petitioner, bore the burden of proving Joshua acted with adverse intent, which she failed to do. The restraining order was, therefore, reversed. View "Holm v. Holm" on Justia Law
Albertson v. Albertson
In the State of North Dakota, the Supreme Court was asked to review a lower court's decision to grant a disorderly conduct restraining order. The petitioner, Hattie Albertson, had filed for this restraining order against the respondent, Trent Albertson. The District Court of Bottineau County had granted the restraining order in favor of Hattie Albertson and their minor child, C.W.A., for a period of one year. This decision was appealed by Trent Albertson, and the Supreme Court retained jurisdiction and remanded the case to the lower court for more detailed findings. Upon review of these additional findings, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's decision to maintain the restraining order.The lower court had found that Trent Albertson had made multiple threatening phone calls over two days, including threats of violence against a friend of the minor child and towards the child as well. These threats and the respondent's actions, including attempting to forcefully enter Hattie Albertson's home, led her to leave the home out of fear. The Supreme Court agreed with the lower court's decision, finding the evidence and testimony presented sufficient to believe that acts constituting disorderly conduct had been committed.Trent Albertson had argued on appeal that the restraining order effectively modified a residential responsibility schedule without necessary hearings and considerations. However, the Supreme Court declined to address this argument as it was raised for the first time on appeal, and had not been presented to the lower court for consideration. The Supreme Court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting the disorderly conduct restraining order and affirmed the decision. View "Albertson v. Albertson" on Justia Law
Z.V. v. Cheryl W.
J.W. was born in 2008. Father died in 2015. J.W.'s paternal Grandmother helped raise J.W. since birth. Mother had denied Grandmother contact with J.W. since Father’s death. The court awarded Mother sole custody and granted Grandmother visitation. In 2021, Mother sought to vacate the visitation order, indicating she had moved to Southern California. Grandmother sought temporary emergency orders to enforce visitation. The court set a long cause hearing. The court provided an oral statement of decision, at Mother's request, at the conclusion of the long cause hearing on April 5, 2022, the existing order to allow one visit every other month, plus summertime visits. On June 15, 2022, the court filed Findings and Orders, reducing its oral statement of decision to writing. Grandmother served Mother with notice of the order on June 23. On May 12, Mother filed a notice and motion to vacate and substitute a new judgment or for a new trial. She filed amended notices and motions on May 27 and June 2022. The written denial was served on the parties on September 6, 2022. On September 21, 2022, Mother filed her notice of appeal, stating the appeal was taken from a June 15, 2022 judgment. The court of appeal dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Mother filed a notice of appeal beyond the 60-day deadline. View "Z.V. v. Cheryl W." on Justia Law
Marriage of V.S. & V.K.
V.S. and V.K., both born in India, met in 2009 in Illinois, where they both lived. In 2010, during a trip to India, they participated in the Phera Hindu marriage ceremony. In 2013, the couple had a civil marriage ceremony in Illinois. In 2019, V.S. petitioned for the dissolution of the marriage, identifying the date of marriage as December 2010. Although V.K. in his response, likewise indicated the date of marriage as December 2010. He later argued that the date of marriage was the date of the Chicago civil ceremony.The court of appeal affirmed that the 2010 Phera was not legally binding under the Hindu Marriage Act and that the parties were not married until their U.S. civil ceremony. An out-of-state marriage is “valid” in California if it “would be valid by laws of the jurisdiction in which the marriage was contracted” (Family Code 308). The court upheld a determination that the Phera was not legally binding on V.K., who was not domiciled in India and did not voluntarily submit to be bound by the Act. The court properly did not treat V.K.’s initial admission that the parties were married in 2010 as a judicial admission of fact; the date of the parties’ marriage is a predominantly legal conclusion not susceptible of judicial admission as a disputed fact. Substantial evidence supports the determination that V.S. was not entitled to treatment as a putative spouse after the Phera. View "Marriage of V.S. & V.K." on Justia Law
Scott v. Foster
Petitioner Derrick Scott filed a petition to establish paternity. Respondent-Mother Candice Foster moved to dismiss, asserting that title 10, section 7700-609(B) required a party to commence an adjudication of paternity within two years of an acknowledgment of paternity. The district court granted Mother's motion to dismiss and ordered Petitioner to pay substantial attorney fees. Petitioner appealed and the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, overturning the district court's order regarding attorney fees. The Oklahoma Supreme Court previously granted certiorari to address whether the Court of Civil Appeals properly affirmed the district court in dismissing Petitioner's claim. The Supreme Court responded in the negative: "Contrary to COCA's recitation of the 'undisputed facts before the court,' the record does not show that Scott firmly believed that he was the biological father when Child was born. Rather, the record before this Court fails to show when the relationship between Scott and Mother actually took place or concluded, when Scott learned of Mother's pregnancy or childbirth, when he first thought that he was Child's father, when he became aware of the Acknowledgment of Paternity, or when he came to believe Mother committed fraud. The district court erred in granting summary judgment based on its determination that section 7700-609 is a statute of repose and erred in dismissing Scott's claim." View "Scott v. Foster" on Justia Law
In Re Colorado in interest of children and concerning J.L.M. and J.P.
The Washington County Department of Human Services (“WCDHS”) and the Board of County Commissioners of Washington County (“the Board”)—collectively, Washington County, contended a Colorado district court erred when it failed to adhere to Colorado v. Madera, 112 P.3d 688 (Colo. 2005) in granting Father’s request for an in camera review of documents that were allegedly protected by the attorney-client privilege. The district court and Father countered that Madera was inapposite and that the challenged ruling was free of error because it is consistent with the Colorado Supreme Court's decision in Alcon v. Spicer, 113 P.3d 735 (Colo. 2005). The issue this case presented was whether Madera or Alcon, issued six days apart in the spring of 2005, controlled in this case. Here, in response to a subpoena duces tecum served by Father, Washington County provided a privilege log listing documents allegedly protected by the attorney-client privilege. After reviewing the log, Father insisted the privilege did not apply, and the parties were unable to resolve their dispute informally. Consequently, Father asked the district court to conduct an in camera inspection of the documents identified in the log. Because the log provided vague descriptions of the withheld documents, the district court could not assess Washington County’s claim of privilege. It thus granted Father’s request for an in camera review. In doing so, the district court neither made Madera’s required findings nor employed Madera’s analytical framework. Washington County argued the district court’s failure to conform to Madera rendered the in camera order faulty. But the district court and Father responded that Madera didn't apply. Instead, they maintained, Alcon applied. The Supreme Court concluded the district court correctly followed Alcon, not Madera, in this case. And the Court further concluded that, consistent with Alcon, the court correctly granted Father’s request for an in camera review because Washington County’s log did not permit an assessment of the claim of privilege. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "In Re Colorado in interest of children and concerning J.L.M. and J.P." on Justia Law
Nguyen v. Bui
The issue this case presented for the New Mexico Supreme Court's review centered on whether a hearing officer improperly denied a petition for an order of protection under the Family Violence Protection Act (FVPA) by requiring the petitioner to show she was in imminent danger of harm by the respondent, whom she alleged sexually assaulted her as a child. The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ memorandum opinion reversing the district court. The Court held that the plain language of the FVPA did not require petitioners to provide a showing of imminent danger or injury in seeking an order of protection. View "Nguyen v. Bui" on Justia Law
Barefoot v. Cole
Daniel Barefoot, as a personal representative and legatee of the estate of Danny Bryant Barefoot, appealed a probate court order that determined the estate of Donna Viola Barefoot was entitled to a share of Danny's estate on the basis that Donna was an omitted spouse under § 43-8-90, Ala. Code 1975. Danny executed a will in August 2012, while married to Merita Hall Barefoot. In the will, other than a specific bequest to his and Merita's son, Daniel, Danny devised his residuary estate to Merita. Danny specified that, if Merita predeceased him, his estate would be shared jointly in equal shares by Daniel and Marcie Jenkins, whom he identified in the will as his stepdaughter. Danny also named Daniel and Marcie as corepresentatives of his estate. Merita died on September 6, 2014. On January 21, 2018, Danny married Donna. Danny and Donna did not execute a prenuptial agreement, and Danny did not execute a new will or a codicil to his previous will to include any testamentary dispositions to Donna. Danny died on September 5, 2021. Twelve days later, on September 17, 2021, Donna died. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the appeal was from a nonfinal order and dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "Barefoot v. Cole" on Justia Law
A.M.D., et al. v. A.L.R, et al.
At issue in this appeal was whether an order determining that grandparents had standing under Section 5325(3) of the Domestic Relations Code, 23 Pa. C.S. § 5325(3), to file and pursue an action for partial physical custody of their grandchildren was a collateral order appealable as of right under Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 313, Pa.R.A.P. 313 (Rule 313). In August 2017, A.L.R. (Father) and T.A.D-R. (Mother) (collectively, Parents) began residing with J.C.D., III, and A.M.D. (collectively, Grandparents), Mother’s parents, at their home in York County, Pennsylvania. While Parents resided at Grandparents’ home, the Children were born to Parents: E.J.R. and A.L.R. Parents and the Children resided with Grandparents until May 2022, when, following a disagreement, Parents moved out of Grandparents’ home with the Children. Thereafter, Grandparents filed a complaint seeking shared legal and partial physical custody of the Children. Parents filed preliminary objections, alleging, inter alia, that Grandparents lacked standing to pursue an action for custody of the Children. The trial court found: (1) Parents and Children lived in the same home as Grandparents for approximately five years; (2) during that time, Grandparents were not raising the Children and did not stand in loco parentis to the Children and helped Parents with the Children as grandparents and as people sharing living quarters typically do; and (3) Grandparents filed their custody complaint within six months of when Parents removed the Children from Grandparents’ home. Based on these findings, the trial court entered an order concluding that Grandparents did not have standing to file and pursue an action for shared legal and partial physical custody of the Children. After reconsideration, the trial court entered a second order determining the Grandparents did have standing to file and pursue their action for partial custody of the Children. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that such an order was not a collateral order, and, therefore, it affirmed the Superior Court’s order quashing this appeal. View "A.M.D., et al. v. A.L.R, et al." on Justia Law
Parris J. v. Christopher U.
Defendant appealed from the five-year domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) issued against him at the request of his former spouse, Plaintiff. He contended the trial court abused its discretion by granting Plaintiff’s request for a DVRO because the record does not demonstrate he engaged in conduct rising to the level of abuse under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA). Defendant also asserted the trial court erred by ordering him to change the beneficiary of the $4 million insurance policy he owns on Plaintiff’s life from himself to a charity of her choice. Lastly, Defendant argued that the trial court’s order awarding $200,000 in attorneys’ fees to Plaintiff as the prevailing party under section 6344 must also be reversed. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by granting Plaintiff’s request for a DVRO. In addition, the court rejected contentions regarding the life insurance policy. Thus, the court found that it has no reason to reverse the order awarding attorneys’ fees to Plaintiff. The court also concluded reversal is not required based on the denial of Defendant’s requests for a statement of decision. The court explained that Defendant has not shown that courts must apply an objective, reasonable person standard when deciding whether a person has “disturbed the peace of the other party” within the meaning of section 6320. Instead, the relevant inquiry is simply whether the person against whom the DVRO is sought engaged in “conduct that, based on the totality of the circumstances, destroyed the mental or emotional calm of the other party.” View "Parris J. v. Christopher U." on Justia Law