Articles Posted in Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Frank Deede’s motion to reduce the amount he owed Kerry Wallace, his former wife, pursuant to the terms of the parties’ divorce settlement agreement and the district court’s subsequent contempt orders, holding that the district court acted well within its equitable power and sound discretion when it denied Frank’s motion to modify amount due. Frank’s motion to modify amount due was based on Frank’s assertion that some of the underlying debt was forgiven. The district court denied the motion, finding that Frank had failed to prove that the amount due was incorrect or that Frank had established that he should be given credit against Bank of America debt. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Frank’s motion to modify amount due; and (2) Kerry was entitled to an award of fees and costs because Frank failed to present a cogent argument on appeal. View "Deede v. Deede" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decree entered in divorce proceedings involving Husband and Wife and denied Husband’s request to remand or grant leave for the district court to hear a Wyo. R. Civ. P. 60 motion, holding that the district court did not improperly modify its prior oral ruling distributing the parties’ property. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by entering a written decision and a divorce decree that varied from the court’s oral statements at trial because the court had discretion to issue a decree that was inconsistent with the court’s statements at trial; and (2) because the record did not reflect that a Rule 60 motion was ever filed and the parties did not claim to have filed one, Husband’s request regarding the Rule 60 motion was denied. View "Schmalz v. Schmalz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In this appeal from the juvenile court’s order on permanency hearing, the Supreme Court held that Father was not prejudiced by the juvenile court’s delay in appointing an attorney until shortly before the permanency hearing, and the juvenile court did not err in denying Father’s request for transport to the hearing. At issue on appeal was whether the juvenile court (1) violated Father’s due process rights when it did not advise him of his right to counsel and did not appoint an attorney until shortly before the permanency hearing, and (2) erred in denying Father’s request for transport to attend the hearing in person. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the juvenile court violated a clear rule of law when it failed to advise Father of his right to counsel at his first appearance in the proceeding and failed to act on Father’s initial request for appointment of counsel, but these errors did not materially prejudice Father; and (2) Father’s due process rights were not violated when the juvenile court denied Father’s request for transport to the permanency hearing. View "FH v. State" 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

Posted in: Family 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

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Father and Stepmother’s petition for a decree of adoption allowing Stepmother to adopt MMM without Mother’s consent, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Father and Stepmother failed to establish that Mother willfully abandoned MMM or that she willfully failed to pay child support. Here, Father and Stepmother filed a petition for a decree of adoption in favor of Stepmother, without the consent of Mother, alleging that Mother willfully abandoned MMM and willfully failed to provide court-ordered child support. The district court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it found that Father and Stepmother failed to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that Mother willfully abandoned MMM or willfully failed to pay child support during the relevant period. View "In re Adoption of MMM" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order modifying the child custody, visitation and support order entered when Father and Mother divorced. The district court modified the order by granting Mother primary custody of the parties’ children and awarding Father visitation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that a material change of circumstances that was relevant to the welfare of the children warranted a modification to the joint custody order; (2) the court’s order changing custody served the children’s best interests; and (3) the district court did not err when it denied Father’s motion to require that Mother and the children be examined by a psychologist of Father’s choosing. View "Johnson v. Clifford" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In this divorce proceeding, the Supreme Court overruled its precedent disfavoring shared custody. The district court issued a final decision granting Mother and Father shared legal and physical custody of their minor child until he enters kindergarten and granted primary physical custody to Father with visitation for Mother after that. On appeal, Mother argued that the district court abused its discretion in ordering shared custody in violation of the Supreme Court’s clear rule that shared custody arrangements are disfavored. See Buttle v. Buttle, 196 P.3d 174 (Wyo. 2008). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court’s custody decisions were not an abuse of discretion. View "Bruegman v. Bruegman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the order of the district court granting Father’s petition to modify the parties’ divorce decree. The Court held that the district court (1) did not err in concluding that Father had established a material change in circumstances to reopen the visitation provision of the decree and then modifying the decree to extend Father’s summer visitation; (2) did not have the authority to modify the original decree’s provisions regarding medical payments; and (3) abused its discretion by allowing Father to claim the children as dependents for tax purposes every other year. View "Meehan-Greer v. Greer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Mother’s motion to set aside the clerk of court’s entry of default against her after she did not respond to the petition of the Department of Family Services to terminate her parental rights within twenty days after service. In denying Mother’s motion, the district court found that Mother did not present good cause to set aside the entry of default. After a default evidentiary hearing, the district court terminated Mother’s parental rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the district court did not abuse its discretion when it applied the three-factor test applied in civil actions to determine a motion to set aside the entry of default judgment and weighed the three factors to deny Mother’s motion to set aside the entry of default against her. View "Hurd v. State, Department of Family Services" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law