Articles Posted in Family Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgments of the district court terminating Mother’s parental rights to Lacie G. and Tyler S. pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1)(a), (B)(2). Specifically, the court held (1) given the findings, which were supported by competent evidence in the record, the district court did not err in finding, by clear and convincing evidence, at least one ground of parental unfitness; and (2) the court did not err or abuse its discretion in determining that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the best interests of Tyler and Lacie. View "In re Lacie G." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgments of the district court terminating Mother’s parental rights to her children, Mackenzie P. and Antonio P. pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4055(1)(A)(1), (B)(2)(a), (b)(i)-(ii). Specifically, the court held (1) given the findings, were were supported by competent evidence in the record, the district court did not err in finding at least one ground of parental unfitness and in determining that termination of Mother’s parental rights with a permanency plan of adoption was in the children’s best interests; and (2) because the court acted at Mother’s request to prevent any prejudice by excluding the testimony of a guardian ad litem at the termination hearing. View "In re Mackenzie P." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
At issue in this appeal were two judgments of the district court. The first judgment clarified that a divorce judgment required Appellant to pay $50,000 plus post-judgment interest to Appellee and ordered that a writ of execution should issue. The second judgment, issued after a writ of execution had issued, clarified an ambiguity in the first judgment and directing that a new writ should issue in the amount of $50,000 plus interest. The Supreme Court dismissed as untimely the appeal from the first judgment clarifying the divorce judgment and affirmed the second judgment clarifying the terms on which the writ of execution would issue, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in entering a judgment clarifying that a writ of execution should issue in the same amount as the clarifying judgment. View "Chamberlain v. Harriman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
James Black appealed an order of the district court denying Dorothy Black’s motion for contempt but nonetheless ordering James to pay Dorothy a sum that the court determined he owed her pursuant to the parties’ divorce judgment. Specifically, James argued that the court lacked authority to grant Dorothy any form of relief upon denying her motion for contempt, which was not accompanied by a motion to enforce. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that, under the unique circumstances of this case, the court acted within its authority by issuing an order requiring James to pay Dorothy the arrearage owed to her and that James was not unfairly prejudiced as a result. View "Black v. Black" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
Kimberly Quinty filed a motion to extend the spousal support provision of the divorce judgment granting a divorce to her and Steven Johnson. The district court granted Steven’s motion to dismiss Kimberly’s motion, concluding that reinstating the award of spousal support after the obligation to pay spousal support had expired was prohibited by law. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly found that its authority to reinstate the spousal support award had ceased under to the parties’ settlement agreement, which was incorporated into the divorce judgment, and therefore, Quinty’s untimely motion failed to allege facts that would entitle her to relief. View "Quinty v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
The district court found John Knoblach in contempt for failing to pay spousal support to Stacylee Morris as required by the parties’ divorce decree and imposed a period of incarceration unless Knoblach paid the arrearage within a specified time. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion by proceeding with the contempt hearing without objection on the scheduled date, and even if the district court erred by holding the contempt hearing one day too soon based on the amount of notice Knoblach was entitled to receive pursuant to Me. R. Civ. P. 66(d)(2)(C), Knoblach failed to demonstrate that the contempt order should be vacated. View "Knoblach v. Morris" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
Wife appealed from the judgment of divorce from Husband entered in the district court. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion (1) by limiting Wife’s financial discovery from Husband’s current partner, a third party; (2) in its findings regarding the value of marital property; (3) by declining to find specifically that Husband’s discovery violations constituted economic misconduct; (4) in its findings supporting its award of spousal support and in failing to award Wife additional support; and (5) declining to award Wife attorney fees. View "Bernsten v. Berntsen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
In this divorce case, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the motion court, holding that the court did not abuse its discretion when it sanctioned Husband for disregarding his discovery obligations. Wife had filed a motion for sanctions based on Father’s continued noncompliance with discovery requests and orders. The motion court found that Husband had largely not complied with discovery orders and granted Wife’s motion. After the district court granted the divorce and divided the marital property, Husband appealed, arguing that the motion court’s sanctions against him resulted in an unjust division of property. Wife, in turn, filed a motion for sanctions alleging that Husband’s filings on appeal violated the Maine Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment and declined to issue sanctions under the circumstances. View "Lentz v. Lentz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
Husband appealed from a district court judgment awarding child support and primary residence of the parties’ children to Mother. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the portion of the judgment related to the health insurance component of Husband’s child support obligation and affirmed the judgment in all other respects, holding (1) the district court did not err by awarding primary residence of the children to Mother; but (2) the district court committed clear error in its factual findings regarding the calculation of Father’s obligation to pay for the children’s health insurance. View "Pyle v. Pyle" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
At issue here was the application of Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 4036(1-A) to preexisting parental rights orders. Section 4036(1-A) authorizes a court that has made a finding of jeopardy in a title 22 child protection proceeding to enter an order awarding parental rights and responsibilities if the court determines the order will protect the child from jeopardy and is in the child’s best interest. In this case, the trial court did not direct the opening of a family matters case as directed by section 4036(1-A)(A) but instead amended the parental rights and responsibilities order that had been issued in the parties’ previous divorce judgment that was in effect at the time of the jeopardy hearing. The trial dismissed the child protection action and awarded sole parental rights over the child to Mother by amending the preexisting parental rights and responsibilities order. The court further made a specific finding that Father created circumstances of jeopardy for his child. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the jeopardy order and the amended parental rights and responsibilities order, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in reaching its ultimate conclusion. View "In re Paige L." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law