Articles Posted in Family Law

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Mark Rath appealed orders denying his demands for a change of judge, an order denying his motion for an order to show cause, and an order modifying his child support obligation. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding Rath did not meet the statutory requirements for a change of judge, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion for an order to show cause, and the court did not err in modifying the child support obligation. View "Rath v. Rath" on Justia Law

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The North Dakota Supreme Court determined it was proper for the district court to look at the social stigma associated with sex offenders in determining the best interest of a child in a name change petition. Shortly after L.Z.N.'s birth, Shawn Narvais plead guilty to four counts of possession of certain materials prohibited. The mother filed a petition on behalf of the child to change his surname, arguing: (1) she did not want L.Z.N. to carry around the stigma of Narvais's crimes because he shared a last name with his father; (2) she wanted L.Z.N. to have the same last name as his half-sibling, herself, and his maternal grandparents; (3) L.Z.N. wanted to change his last name; and (4) Narvais requested a paternity test to establish his relationship with L.Z.N. and has not been involved with or supported L.Z.N. in any significant way since his incarceration. Narvais appealed a district court's order granting a petition to change his child's surname. Narvais argued the district court used improper factors in determining the best interest of L.Z.N., he was not provided proper notice of the name change petition, and his due process rights were violated because he was not allowed to appear for the hearing. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Matter of L.Z.N." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The clearly erroneous standard of review does not permit a reweighing of evidence or reassessment of credibility. Richard Colling appeals a district court judgment awarding Adrienne Behrens primary residential responsibility of their child, R.W.B.C. He argued the district court's findings relating to best interests factors (j), (d), and (f) were clearly erroneous. He also argued the district court judge had a duty to disclose his involvement in an earlier case in which Behrens was a party. Concluding the record supported the district court's findings, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Interest of R.W.B.C." on Justia Law

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A district court's contempt decision will only be disturbed on appeal if the court abused its discretion. A denial of a motion for reconsideration will not be reversed on appeal absent a manifest abuse of discretion. Mark and Kayla Rath were divorced in January 2013. The divorce judgment awarded Kayla primary residential responsibility of the couple's two minor children, with Mark receiving supervised parenting time. Mark appealed orders denying his motions for recusal, for an order to show cause, and for reconsideration, and from orders denying his demands for change of judge in child support modification proceedings. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded he waived his issues on appeal regarding recusal and the orders denying his demands for change of judge were interlocutory and not appealable. The Court further concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying his motion seeking to hold Kayla in contempt and motion to reconsider. View "Rath v. Rath" on Justia Law

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Section 25-03.1-18.1(1)(a), N.D.C.C., does not require both treating and non-treating physicians to testify at a medication hearing addressing a request to involuntarily treat with medication. M.G. appealed a district court's order authorizing involuntary treatment with prescribed medication. F.M.G. argued the district court erred in granting the request to treat her with prescribed medications, because the proper medical providers did not testify at the hearing under N.D.C.C. 25-03.1-18.1(1)(a), and the mandatory certification requirements under N.D.C.C. 25-03.1-18.1(1)(a)(2) were not met. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded N.D.C.C. 25-03.1-18.1(1)(a) did not require both treating and non-treating physicians to testify at the hearing, and F.M.G. did not adequately raise the issue of whether the form used to request involuntary treatment with medication met the certification requirements under N.D.C.C. 25-03.1-18.1(1)(a)(2) before the district court. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order. View "Interest of F.M.G." on Justia Law

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A party petitioning for termination of a guardianship must make a prima facie showing that the ward is no longer incapacitated, and if a prima facie case is established, the guardian has the burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the ward remains an incapacitated person. M.E. appealed a trial court order denying her petition to be restored to capacity, arguing the district court erred by denying her petition because no evidence showed she lacked the ability to care for herself and the court failed to order the least restrictive form of intervention. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding M.E. failed to establish a prima facie case for termination of the guardianship or for a less restrictive form of intervention. View "Guardianship & Conservatorship of M.E." on Justia Law

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While a long-term marriage generally supports an equal division of property, a court may unequally divide property in a short-term marriage and award the parties what each brought into the marriage. If the district court fails to comply with the child support guidelines in determining an obligor's child support obligation, the court errs as a matter of law. Angela Allmon appealed a judgment granting her a divorce from Aaron Allmon, granting her primary residential responsibility for their child, ordering him to pay child support, and distributing their marital property. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed in part, but reversed the child support award and remanded for the district court to correctly apply the Child Support Guidelines. View "Allmon v. Allmon" on Justia Law

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A party cannot rely on the other party's request for an oral argument to guarantee himself or herself an oral argument. Matthew Johnson appealed a district court's order awarding two of the three tax exemptions for the children to Tina Johnson. Matthew argued the district court erred by not holding an oral argument and failing to make explicit findings on who would benefit the most from having the tax exemptions. Matthew did not request an oral argument; rather, he asserted he could rely upon Tina’s request to guarantee himself an oral argument. The Supreme Court concluded the district court's findings were not clearly erroneous; therefore, it affirmed. View "Johnson v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Dianna Holm appealed a judgment granting her a divorce from Thomas Holm and dividing their marital property. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the district court's treatment as compensation of dividends received from stock purchased from Thomas' employer, and the court's valuation and award of the stock, were not clearly erroneous. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. View "Holm v. Holm" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Chad Lizakowski appealed a divorce judgment distributing marital property and awarding spousal support and attorney fees. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's distribution of marital property and award of spousal support. However, the Court reversed the district court's award of attorney fees, and remanded for reconsideration of Chad Lizakowski's request for fees. View "Lizakowski v. Lizakowski" on Justia Law