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February 12, 2019 Feature

Review of the Year 2017–2018 in Family Law: Courts Tackle Immigration, Jurisdiction, and the Usual Family Law Disputes

Linda D. Elrod & Robert G. Spector


The 2017–18 reporting year had relatively little activity by Congress. Federal courts have also been relatively quiet in the family law area, except for abortion, immigration, and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) cases. States, however, continue to hear a seemingly increasing volume of cases. In addition to the usual marriage, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, and division of property disputes, there were several cases dealing with jurisdictional issues this year.

I. Federal

Although Congress passed only a couple of pieces of legislation that impact families, both were significant. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 removed the alimony deduction starting January 1, 2019. While it remains for existing orders and for modifications of existing orders, the loss of the obligor’s ability to deduct alimony will undoubtedly affect divorce negotiations. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also eliminated the federal dependency exemption but raised the standard deduction. In many states, child support guidelines currently include consideration of tax consequences. Agreements made under the old tax rules may be revisited under the new ones. Taxpayers are just beginning to feel the tax changes with indications that corporations, rather than families, have seen the most benefit.

Perhaps the most significant, potentially helpful, legislation for the child-welfare system is the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892), which included the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). FFPSA seeks to increase investments in prevention services to keep families from getting into the child welfare system. Child welfare funds under Title IV-E will be directed toward prevention, away from housing and separation. While the details are still being developed, FFPSA may decrease the number of children in the foster care system for the first time in years.

Conservative Justice Kavanaugh replaced Justice Kennedy, who was often a moderate swing vote, on the U.S. Supreme Court. The impact of the change may be significant in family law cases as numerous state abortion decisions are on appeal. The Supreme Court upheld a Minnesota statute that automatically revoked provisions for ex-spouses on divorce. The statute’s application to revoke an ex-wife’s primary beneficiary designation under a life insurance policy that was made before the statute’s enactment did not violate the contracts clause of the Constitution.1

Dozens of immigration issues flooded federal courts as challenges emerged to President Trump’s immigration policies.2 Migrant parents brought a class action against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) alleging the practice of separating migrant parents and children held in immigration detention without a showing that the parent was unfit or presented a danger to the child violated their due process rights. The Southern District of California granted an injunction to allow family integrity and association unless unfit.3 Unfortunately, thousands of children appear to be “lost” in the system. The family of a Mexican teen killed in a cross-border shooting by a U.S. border patrol agent could not bring an action for damages under the Fourth Amendment against the agent.4

In October 2018, for the first time in its forty-year history, a federal judge in Texas found the ICWA to be unconstitutional as a discriminatory race-based statute that could not withstand strict scrutiny.5 The decision was stayed pending appeal, and it is likely to be overruled by the Fifth Circuit. Every other court of appeals who has heard ICWA challenges has upheld ICWA.

A U.K. charge of child abduction criminalized the same essential conduct as the U.S. crime of international parental kidnapping. Thus, a fugitive’s extradition to the United Kingdom to face a charge of childhood abduction under the United Kingdom’s Child Abduction Act of 1984 satisfied the extradition treaty’s requirement of dual criminality.6 The Sixth Circuit found that the federal statute that prevents people with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions from possessing firearms is constitutional.7

A woman who claims to have been defrauded by her ex-husband and his business associates may not sue in federal court because the division of marital property is closely tied to the divorce itself and therefore invokes the “domestic relations” exception to federal jurisdiction.8 A man’s lawsuit against his son’s mother alleging she fraudulently claimed the boy as a dependent on her federal tax returns must be dismissed because, even if he is correct, the Internal Revenue Code does not provide him with a remedy.9 Another federal case involved a woman who thought her husband was having an affair and began attacking the other woman on social media. A jury found the woman was defamed by the comments that she fraudulently obtained her Ph.D. and other statements. The court enjoined the wife and her mother from making six specific statements. The injunction did not survive strict scrutiny because the injunction punishes future conduct that may be constitutionally protected. The dissent argued that the majority created a rule that protects recidivist defamers.10

A. Hague Abduction Convention

The definition of the child’s habitual residence continues to be litigated. Even though a mother’s actions originally may have been illegal in taking the child to Ecuador, the father failed to pursue his remedies in Ecuador to secure return of the child. By 2016, Ecuador had become the habitual residence of the child, who had lived there continuously since the age of three and maintained an active social, familial, and academic life there.11 A father failed to establish that the United Kingdom was the children’s habitual residence when they had only been there for a seven- to eight-week stay. There was no shared parental intent as to children’s residence from time of conception until the mother kept them in the United States.12

Defenses to return are raised regularly. In granting a father’s petition for return of his child to Mexico, the court noted the parties’ conflicting testimony, made statements in its findings of fact, and used the correct “clear and convincing evidence” standard to find the mother’s allegations of abuse did not show a grave risk of harm.13 The Hague Conference is currently drafting a “Guide to Good Practices” under Section 13(1)(b) of the Abduction Convention.

A few cases looked at attorney fees. Under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, a court has limited equitable discretion to determine when to allow an exception to the presumptive award of an attorney fee to a successful petitioner. The losing respondent bears the substantial burden to establish that a fee award is clearly inappropriate. Two considerations that have arisen related to the “clearly inappropriate” inquiry for an award of attorney fees are whether a fee award would impose such a financial hardship that it would significantly impair the respondent’s ability to care for the child and whether a respondent had a good faith belief that her actions in removing or retaining a child were legal or justified. Where the mother did not remove the child from the Czech Republic in good faith, the attorney fee award in favor of the father could not be denied.14

B. Bankruptcy

Two debtors who are in a civil union may file a joint Chapter 13 proceeding.15 A trustee could no longer sell a vacation property because a Chapter 7 debtor’s death terminated the estate’s interest in it.16

Most issues dealt with dischargeability. A state court judgment in favor of a debtor’s ex-wife for her share of his retirement benefits was nondischargeable in his Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Under California law, the divorce decree created a trust over her portion of the benefits and gave rise to a fiduciary relationship between the former spouses. Therefore, he was guilty of defalcation with a culpable state of mind, which is nondischargeable.17 A mother with three small children who was separated from her husband failed to show that having to repay more than $25,000 in student loan debt would cause undue financial hardship and so the debt could not be discharged.18 Also not dischargable was a debt owed to the wife’s ex-in-laws for student loans because of her failure to litigate the issues in the state collection proceeding.19

A debtor who owes a child support overpayment to the father of her child can wipe out that debt because an overpayment is not a support obligation.20 Attorney fees awarded to the ex-wife in a proceeding brought by her ex-husband for defamation can be discharged in bankruptcy because they are not in the nature of alimony or support.21

C. Pensions

A woman who stabbed her husband while he slept but was later found not guilty by reason of insanity was not entitled to receive surviving spouse pension benefits despite the fact that she was listed as the beneficiary on his ERISA-covered benefits.22 Applying the “substantial compliance” standard for a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), the Sixth Circuit allowed a divorce agreement and decree to operate as a QDRO. Therefore, the parties’ child received the life insurance benefits instead of the husband’s uncle, who was designated as the beneficiary.23

II. State Court Cases

A. Adoption

Once a consent is signed, most states consider it final unless it was involuntary or procured by fraud. A mother’s allegations in her motion to set aside an adoption stated a claim for extrinsic fraud where she alleged she was misled and railroaded.24 In another case, however, the birth mother was not entitled to set aside her prebirth consent to adoption where she did not present evidence of fraud or undue influence.25

Unwed fathers continue to struggle. Arizona found that filing in the resident-state putative father’s registry was a bright-line rule. The nonresident putative father’s failure to file was a statutory ground for severance of his parental rights even though he alleged the mother and adoption agency deceived him, and he filed for paternity in the mother’s home state. The court refused to make individualized, post-adoption determination of the reasonability of the father’s conduct, which would undermine the finality of adoptions.26 If a biological father does not demonstrate a reasonable and consistent support for the child within a certain time period, an adoption can take place without his consent.27 The Kansas Supreme Court found that an unwed father should have a “real world opportunity” to assert his parental rights when he was not notified that the mother was pregnant until after the child was born.28 In Wyoming, a biological father lacked standing to challenge the foster parents’ adoption of the child who had been in foster care for several years because he had been “unknown” and his parental rights terminated earlier.29

Several stepparents tried to adopt without the biological father’s consent. Ohio found that a father’s failure to contact the child for one year made his consent unnecessary.30 On the other hand, a probate court should have considered a biological father’s pending motion to reestablish parenting time with the child before finding his consent was unnecessary.31 The Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed a finding that a child was eligible for the stepfather to adopt where the father had taken sufficient legal action to maintain a relationship with the child, he had not willfully failed to pay child support, and the trial court could not find adoption was in child’s best interest.32

A couple of adoption cases dealt with suits by former same-sex partners. Equitable adoption doctrine applied to permit a former same-sex partner to enforce an earlier agreement with the adoptive father that he be allowed a second parent adoption. Neither party had a biological relationship with the child, so Nevada’s Uniform Parentage Act was not implicated. The father’s repudiation of the adoption agreement deprived the child of the former partner’s emotional and financial support.33 On the other hand, the Nebraska Supreme Court found that a district court’s stay of a custody action by a former partner of the biological mother who conceived a child via artificial insemination through an anonymous donor was not appealable. The district court granted the biological mother’s motion to consent to the adoption of the child by her new wife.34

B. Agreements

1. Premarital

Disclosure of assets is critical to the validity of a premarital agreement.35 Georgia held that a premarital agreement was enforceable even though the agreement itself did not list the husband’s income because the income was adequately disclosed in attachments to the agreement.36 A premarital agreement that classified shares of a company owned by a woman prior to her marriage as community property is valid and enforceable in her divorce.37 Mississippi held that the fairness of a prenuptial agreement must be judged when it was signed and not when it is enforced years later.38

In Iowa, prenuptial agreements waiving the right to seek legal fees in the event of a divorce are unenforceable insofar as the fees relate to child support and alimony.39 Texas, however, upheld a “no contest” clause and determined that the wife’s attempt to rescind the premarital agreement triggered a clause in the agreement under which she lost a $5 million payment otherwise due to her.40

2. Postmarital

The Indiana Court of Appeals found that a reconciliation agreement was enforceable against the wife where there was valid consideration and both parties waived their respective rights.41 An oral postnuptial agreement deeming certain possessions to be a wife’s sole-and-separate property—made manifest by deed transferring title to the wife’s name—was found to be valid and enforceable. The transfer was to appease the wife for loss of her inherited investment portfolio due to the husband’s poor investment decisions.42

The Alabama Court of Appeals upheld a postnuptial agreement where the husband provided only the cost, not the market value, of his real estate and business. The wife had agreed to sign rather than terminate the marriage after the husband discovered her affair. The agreement negotiation process took twenty-seven months, and the wife, who had been married twenty years and was familiar with real estate issues, consulted three attorneys during the process.43

C. Alimony

1. Initial

Alaska severely limited the role of alimony by providing that alimony can only be granted when the spouse’s needs cannot be met through an unequal property division.44 Many states have adopted guidelines for alimony. Vermont, however, determined that its alimony guidelines are not presumptive and a trial court need not justify awarding maintenance that is not in accordance with the guidelines.45

North Dakota determined that a party’s sexual orientation by itself is not an appropriate factor to consider in deciding whether to award spousal support. The court can, however, consider noneconomic fault where the wife engaged in an extramarital affair with a woman that was the proximate cause of the divorce.46 A South Carolina court found that the husband’s extramarital conduct and refusal to go to counseling contributed to the demise of the marriage, so the trial court was correct in awarding the wife permanent periodic alimony instead of rehabilitative alimony.47

Need remains a major factor in alimony cases. A U.S. citizen born in South Korea who had a sixth-grade Korean education, spoke little English, and did not work for most of her twenty-four-year marriage was entitled to permanent alimony.48 A woman whose psychiatric condition made her unable, for the foreseeable future, to be self-supporting was entitled to spousal support continuing until her remarriage, death, or receipt of Social Security. When the latter occurred, the support would be reduced, but not eliminated.49 A court did not have to take into account that the parties’ children were currently living with the wife because the evidence showed that they would be leaving soon.50 An order requiring a man to pay his wife a percent of his income as alimony is valid and is not an “illegal lifetime profit sharing order.”51 The husband had the financial ability to pay $2,500 a month alimony, the same as he had been paying temporarily, where he received the marital home and income-producing farmland valued at $2.5 million.52

2. Modification

The general rule for modification is that there must be a change of circumstances since the alimony order was entered. Utah clarified its standard finding that the issue is whether an alleged substantial change was “foreseeable” at the time of the divorce, not whether it was “contemplated” in the decree. Where a former wife’s sale of real estate (and investment of proceeds) was foreseeable, the increased income stream derived from real estate proceeds was not a change in circumstances.53

A spousal maintenance provision in a marital property settlement agreement, which provided that the ex-wife would receive distributions from the business while the parties were legally separated and would receive maintenance payments upon dissolution, was an inseverable part of the property distribution and could not be modified. The ex-wife agreed to give up her interest in the business only because she was assured she would receive maintenance payments that were in effect a structured purchase of her share of the business. It did not matter that the husband’s business failed and the amount of the payment equals his new income.54 The trial court properly considered extrinsic evidence that the ex-husband’s income fluctuated widely from year to year on the basis of business conditions where the separation agreement did not indicate the purpose of the alimony award. The court found the ex-wife was only entitled to maintain the standard of living that she had enjoyed during the marriage.55 In a Montana case, if the court finds that the agreement is unconscionable, the trial court could modify alimony even if the parties’ agreement provided that alimony was not modifiable. An agreement can become unconscionable with the passage of time and unforeseen circumstances.56

A woman’s divorce decree should not have been revised seven years later to award her alimony because her share of the husband’s military pension was reduced when he took disability payments.57 In another case, the fact that the wife is now receiving Social Security based on her former husband’s earnings is no reason, by itself, to reduce alimony.58

A judge did not have to impute income to the ex-husband, who had retired at fifty-eight and volunteered as an associate scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The wife failed to present any evidence that would have allowed the trial court to determine how much income to attribute to the husband, now sixty-two, based on current circumstances.59

Courts differ on the effect of cohabitation on an alimony award. The Nebraska court noted that a trial court cannot condition the termination of spousal support upon cohabitation with another person. Such matters are public policy issues for the legislature. Cohabitation, however, together with a showing that such arrangement improved a former spouse’s overall financial condition, might warrant a modification of spousal support.60 If the parties agree that cohabitation terminates alimony, the courts will enforce it.61

Definitions of cohabitation vary. Evidence was sufficient to support the trial court’s finding that the former wife was not cohabitating even though she had established a common residence and maintained a long-term intimate relationship with another person. There was no other sharing of assets, no joint accounts, and no holding out as a married couple.62

Utah determined that a man whose ex-wife no longer lived with her boyfriend cannot cease paying alimony based on the couple’s prior cohabitation. The cohabitation must be occurring on the date the motion is filed.63 Georgia and Kansas, however, reached the opposite result, holding that alimony may be modified or eliminated if the recipient cohabits regardless as to whether the cohabitation is taking place on the date the motion to modify is filed.64 Ohio noted that the burden of proof to show that the alimony recipient no longer needs the alimony after cohabitation falls on the payor.65

3. Termination and Enforcement

The Colorado Court of Appeals held that a former husband’s estate did not have an obligation to make maintenance payments to a former wife after he died. The premarital and separation agreements did not express a clear intent that the former wife would receive those payments.66 In an interesting case, Texas held that even though it must recognize an Oklahoma order providing for alimony, it refused to utilize garnishment as a remedy because it was not authorized under Texas law.67

D. Alternative Dispute Resolution

A father, who had dispute resolution training himself, was not allowed to repudiate the mediated agreement he had signed in an attempt to coerce the mother into allowing him more parenting time.68 A father’s action against the mother alleging breach of the separation agreement by failing to attempt mediation prior to filing a petition seeking sole custody was not entitled to summary judgment. There were triable issues of fact as to whether the mother was afforded fair opportunity in family court to address compliance with the mediation provision or whether emergency circumstances justified her failure to attempt mediation.69

The usual practice is that trial judges accept a mediated agreement of the parties, especially after court-ordered mediation. A Florida trial court held a “status” conference from which the wife was absent because all parties assumed the judge would accept their agreement. The trial judge rejected the parties’ sixteen-page mediation settlement agreement and sua sponte modified it substantially by changing sole custody to shared parental custody and giving the father a tax exemption. The unsolicited redraft of the parties’ executed mediation agreement violated the mother’s due process.70

The Uniform Mediation Act did not permit a mediator to disclose the terms of an alleged oral agreement arising out of a husband and wife’s mediation during the divorce proceeding. Mediation statutes provided an exception to communication privilege existed for a written agreement, which implied that nonwritten agreements were not excepted.71

E. Assisted Reproductive Technology

What to do with frozen pre-embryos remains a litigated issue. The Arizona legislature answered the question. Its Parental Right to Embryo law, which took effect in July 2018, requires courts in divorce proceedings to award in vitro embryos to the spouse who intends to allow them to “develop to birth.”72 Most courts have started by looking to the agreement of the parties and then to balancing the parties’ respective interests.73 Some have favored the person who did not want to procreate. For example, a wife was not entitled to be awarded two frozen pre-embryos containing the husband’s and wife’s genetic material over the husband’s objection. The husband’s fundamental right to not procreate would be irrevocably extinguished if she bore more of his children against his will.74

Until more states enact surrogacy legislation, courts will continue to struggle with surrogacy cases. The Iowa Supreme Court found that a surrogacy agreement entered into between intended parents and a surrogate mother and her husband was not unenforceable as against public policy.75 In New York, a court honored a preconception agreement between a gay couple and a female friend to have a child and parent together.76 Where a surrogacy contract was illegal and unenforceable, the New York Family Court refused to allow a biological father to adopt his son. The arrangement used the father’s sperm, an unknown egg donor, and a surrogate’s womb and provided the father would be the only parent.77 In another case, a sister of one of the same-sex partners agreed to be the surrogate so any child would be genetically linked to both of them. The partner did not adopt the twins, but the court found it was in their best interest to be placed with the nonbiological former partner.78 Although a same-sex couple’s failure to have artificial insemination performed by a doctor precluded them from the statute affording legitimacy to the child, the sperm donor was equitably estopped from asserting paternity or visitation rights.79

The IRS did not unconstitutionally discriminate against a gay taxpayer or violate his “fundamental right” when it rejected his claimed deductions for in vitro fertilization expenses. The IRS has consistently rejected male taxpayers’ efforts to claim IVF-related expense deductions for amounts paid to cover the care of female egg donors and gestational surrogates.80

F. Attorneys

1. Child’s Attorney/GAL

Pennsylvania decided several cases that clarified when an attorney for the child and when a guardian ad litem (GAL) should be appointed. The term “counsel” in the statute for involuntary termination refers to an attorney representing the child’s legal interests, not just a guardian ad litem for best interest.81 A child’s attorney did not properly advocate for his six-year-old child’s legal interests when he did not interview the child and did not put the child’s preferred outcome into the record.82 In another case, the court noted that the trial court must raise the failure to appoint a statutorily required counsel for children sua sponte as children are unable to raise the issue due to their minority.83 Divergent opinions between the sixteen-year-old child and the attorney who was both the child’s counsel and GAL as to whether the asthmatic child should be placed back with her mother constituted a conflict. Appointment of a separate GAL to represent the child’s best interest was warranted where her legal rights and best interest differed.84

Georgia determined in a termination of parental rights case that when an irreconcilable conflict of interest develops between the child’s wishes and the lawyer’s view of the child’s best interests, the lawyer must withdraw from the role of guardian ad litem, and may seek to withdraw entirely if the conflict is severe.85

A lawyer–guardian ad litem was entitled to governmental immunity the same as a GAL in a malpractice action brought by the child’s father after his parental rights were terminated but subsequently reinstated. The court found the lawyer-GAL was a subset of GAL.86 Although an attorney GAL was not entitled to quasi-judicial immunity, the oldest child did not state a cause of action for wrongful disclosure of confidential information because the GAL’s job was to report relevant information on best interests to the court.87 The attorney appointed as guardian ad litem for a child who received a personal injury settlement was not shielded by immunity in her lawsuit for his alleged negligence in allowing dissipation of the settlement money.88

An unusual New York case involved adoptive parents seeking to deny recognition to their 2008 adoption decree, which required appointment of a guardian ad litem. While the trial court had awarded $100,000 to the GAL, the appellate court reduced the amount to $53,000, noting the relevant factors in determining the fair and reasonable compensation for a guardian ad litem’s services are the nature and extent of the services, the actual time spent, the necessity therefore, the nature of the issues involved, the professional standing of counsel, and the results achieved.89

Vermont determined that because a parent was entitled to an attorney in a child abuse and neglect case, the parents were also entitled to an attorney in a suit to set aside a termination of their parental rights.90 West Virginia held that the attorney appointed to represent an indigent parent in a child neglect case could not represent that parent in a custody case because the parent is not entitled to court-appointed counsel in the custody case.91

2. Other Ethical Issues

An attorney who prepared an unsolicited custody agreement and persuaded feuding relatives to sign it was censured.92 The judge overseeing a contested adoption case was not required to recuse simply because the adopters’ attorney had provided a recommendation letter in connection with the judge’s application for appointment to the state’s top court.93 When, however, a trial judge’s wife had contact with a child support litigant through social media and, as a result, the judge acknowledged a bias against that parent, he must recuse himself.94

A Georgia attorney who asked a mother to recant an eyewitness account of her son’s molestation resigned from the bar after pleading guilty to felony witness tampering and attempting to suborn perjury.95 South Carolina held that a suspension of nine months was warranted for an attorney who forged an affidavit in support of a client’s request for an emergency hearing in a child custody case.96

Nevada decided that a reprimand was appropriate for an otherwise “good” lawyer who disclosed to a husband that his wife was planning to divorce him.97 A public censure is the appropriate remedy for an attorney who neglected to finalize the divorce for sixteen years because the client actually suffered no harm from the neglect.98 Wisconsin decided that a six-month suspension was appropriate for an attorney who severely neglected her client’s divorce case.99 Illinois upheld a $50,000 sanction against the wife’s attorney, payable to the husband, for unnecessary and unsupported litigation that increased the costs of the couple’s divorce proceeding.100

Louisiana suspended a lawyer for sneaking into an ex-girlfriend’s home while she and her husband were out of town.101 A public defender’s sexual relationship with a client was not unethical given their on-again/off-again relationship beginning more than ten years earlier when the lawyer was in junior high school.102 A lawyer representing a client in a custody case who engaged in sexual misconduct (fondling and masturbation) with her client in a courthouse conference room was suspended for up to two years.103 A three-year suspension was the punishment for a lawyer who “manipulated his attorney-client relationship” with a woman to facilitate inappropriate sexual communications with her fourteen-year-old daughter.104

3. Malpractice

A law firm’s failure to prepare and record a deed in the client’s divorce left it and another firm member open to top damages in a malpractice suit.105 A challenge to an attorney’s performance in a proceeding that resulted in a man’s loss of parental rights “fails as a matter of law” because the father did not show he was prejudiced by the alleged deficiencies in his attorney’s representation.106 Vermont determined that an attorney may be liable for malpractice for giving the wrong advice about child support.107 A law firm’s failure to prepare and record a deed in its client’s divorce case may be liable for damages in the client’s malpractice suit.108

G. Child Abuse/Neglect

Maine determined that personal jurisdiction over a parent is not necessary to determine whether they have abused or neglected their child.109 Parents were not entitled to have counsel present during the in camera interview of the child in a dependency and neglect proceeding.110 In Connecticut, the parents’ continual failure to acknowledge the cause of one daughter’s injuries warranted termination also as to the other daughter because it denied her the care necessary for her physical and emotional well-being.111 Parental rights have been terminated when parents are found to be unfit by clear and convincing evidence.112 If a Native American child is involved, the state must use active efforts to prevent the breakup of a Native American family and show that the child would be harmed beyond a reasonable doubt if placed with the Native American parent.113 Where there is not sufficient credible evidence to support termination of parental rights, the appellate court will reverse.114

In what seems like a unique case, New York determined that it could appoint a guardian for an undocumented transgender Honduran youth whose backpack with possessions was in Brooklyn although the child was in an immigrant detention center in New Mexico. The child petitioned the court for appointment of a New York “friend and mentor” as her legal guardian for purposes of seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status under federal law. The court decided that under state law, a county family court “may appoint a guardian of his [or her] person or property, or of both, . . . [w]here the infant is a non-domiciliary of the state but has property situate[d] in th[e] county.”115

H. Child Custody

1. Jurisdiction

Florida had a couple of cases finding violation of due process rights to change parenting plans without the opportunity to be heard.116 Where a parent has service and proper notice and fails to appear, a default judgment will be upheld.117

a. Home State

Custody jurisdiction is in the nature of general subject matter jurisdiction. Jurisdiction may not be conferred by mere presence of the parties or stipulation. The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) prioritize home state jurisdiction. Where the mother and children had lived in Oregon for two years before the father filed for divorce in Kentucky, it did not matter that the mother entered an appearance and agreed to designate Kentucky as the children’s home state. The Kentucky custody order was void because Oregon was the home state.118

Where Germany had home state jurisdiction and had not declined to exercise it when the termination petition was filed, the North Carolina trial court could not have jurisdiction.119 Minnesota determined that the six-month extended home state period does not begin to run until the left-behind parent had reason to recognize the permanency of the out-of-state absence. Therefore, when the mother took the children to Japan, the six-month period did not begin until four months after her departure when it became clear that she was not going to return the children.120

Temporary absences do not count against the six months for home state. The issue becomes whether there was a home state and whether the absence was temporary. Oregon adopted the totality of the circumstances test, rather than the duration or intent test, to determine that the child had not been in Indonesia long enough to qualify it as the “home state,” so the absence from there was not a “temporary” one. Oregon, which had a significant connection with mother and child, could adjudicate child custody.121 Montana set out the following factors to determine whether an absence is temporary: (1) “the physical presence of the child; (2) the integration of the child into the Montana community; (3) the duration of the absence; (4) the parties’ living arrangements; (5) the location of the child’s other family members; (6) the frequency of relocation; and (7) the parties’ intentions.”122 Illinois courts found that the parties’ three years in Canada were temporary, especially given the parties’ agreement that the United States was the child’s habitual residence.123

b. Temporary Emergency Jurisdiction

Several cases discussed the exercise of temporary emergency jurisdiction. The proper focus of emergency jurisdiction is whether the child will be at immediate risk of harm upon return to the parent.124 Although emergency jurisdiction is intended to be short term and limited, the court may continue to exercise jurisdiction as long as reasons underlying dependency exist. Where California exercised temporary emergency jurisdiction to protect a child, it may not address the merits of a dependency petition or make final determination until it properly asserts jurisdiction under the nonemergency provisions.125 Colorado vacated a termination of parental rights order and remanded the case for the trial court to undertake further inquiries about proceedings concerning the child in other states, confer with courts in other states as appropriate, and then make express findings as to its UCCJEA jurisdiction.126

One of the more interesting cases concerning temporary emergency jurisdiction involved Italy and the United States; the 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children (1996 Protection Convention); and the UCCJEA. The father appealed the trial court’s decisions requiring the relocation of the parties’ nine-year-old daughter from Italy to Washington State before a permanent parenting plan had become final. The Court of Rome had entered an emergency order under Article 11 of the 1996 Protection of Children Convention. A Washington court asserted jurisdiction under the UCCJEA and entered a later order. Although the Washington court used some unfortunate language indicating that the United States is a party to the Hague and therefore the 1996 Convention (we have not ratified this Convention), the trial court properly exercised jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. Because its order temporarily relocating the child addressed “the measures required by the situation,” it satisfied the requirements of the 1996 Hague Convention. The Court of Rome’s emergency order lapsed. The order did not violate the doctrine of comity or the UCCJEA.127

c. Exercise of Jurisdiction

Vermont could not exercise jurisdiction over a mother’s parentage action where the father’s child custody action was pending in Virginia, which was properly exercising jurisdiction under UCCJEA.128 Even if a court has jurisdiction, it may decline to exercise it for a number of reasons. A Washington, D.C., court properly declined jurisdiction in favor of New York even though the father’s move there was without the mother’s consent.129 North Carolina found that an Illinois court’s docket entry that it was transferring a custody matter to North Carolina was tantamount to an order making North Carolina the more appropriate forum.130

A New York court should not decline jurisdiction in favor of Israel when the child has lived all its life in New York, even though the parties’ parenting agreement attempted to confer exclusive jurisdiction on the family court in Israel.131 Where a child was living with the mother in Turkey and Turkey took jurisdiction over the child custody dispute in substantial conformity with the UCCJEA, Georgia should have declined jurisdiction. Both Georgia and Turkey were significant connection states, and the Turkish proceeding was filed first.132

A father was entitled to present evidence and argument before a Pennsylvania court relinquished jurisdiction to New York in a custody dispute.133 In a rather startling case, Maine determined that a party did not have a right to present facts and legal arguments before the two state courts determined which should take jurisdiction.134

d. Exclusive Continuing Jurisdiction

The mobility of families today often results in parents and children living in different states. In an interesting case, New York retained jurisdiction in a situation where one of two children who were genetically related through egg donation was allowed to move to Kentucky with one of his parents following a divorce. When the child was back in New York for visitation with his father, they filed a petition seeking visitation with the other child as siblings. The court determined that because New York still had continuing jurisdiction over the Kentucky child, it could also exercise jurisdiction over the visitation proceeding.135

In another case, the Ohio Court of Appeals held that the Ohio court that granted a divorce to the child’s biological father and biological mother retained exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the custody and parenting decisions because the father still lived in Ohio. Therefore, a California court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to enter an order adjudicating the biological mother’s former same-sex partner as a parent of the child.136

New York Family Court lacked jurisdiction over a mother’s petition for child custody, filed two days after a Pennsylvania court issued an order awarding sole legal and physical custody of the child to the father, who was a Pennsylvania resident. Pennsylvania retained jurisdiction.137 Ohio lacked jurisdiction to grant an adoption petition filed by the child’s guardian where West Virginia had granted the grandmother visitation with the child. Neither West Virginia nor Ohio had made a determination that relevant persons no longer resided in West Virginia.138

The court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to modify a foreign court’s order granting child custody to the grandmother. Therefore, the court lacked authority to find the maternal grandmother in contempt. Although the Court of Common Pleas determined that it would be a more convenient forum, the foreign court had not yet determined that it no longer had exclusive, continuing jurisdiction or that the Court of Common Pleas would be a more convenient forum.139

e. Enforcement

Indiana enforced a child custody order entered in the west African nation of Mali in favor of the father. The mother argued that Mali custody law violated fundamental human rights. Mali’s custody law, as written, may be outdated, but it did not violate fundamental rights. The Malian court expressly stated that its decision was based solely on the best interests of the children and used an analysis not unlike Indiana law.140

2. Factors

Although the trial court can weigh the evidence as it sees fit, Mississippi requires the chancellor to address on the record each of the custody factors set out in the Albright case. Failure to do so is reversible error.141 While the Louisiana judge is not required to make a mechanical evaluation of all the statutory factors, the evidence must show what is in the best interest of the children. The appellate court found there was no evidence to support a mother’s primary residency of twin children.142

A trial court erred by not admitting evidence of the ex-husband’s alleged history of domestic violence that occurred before the prior custody order was entered.143 The trial court abused its discretion by considering a mother’s sexual orientation as a factor when determining the parenting plan. The court found that the father was the more stable parent because he was better suited to maintain the children’s religious upbringing, which included belief that homosexuality was a sin.144

A mother’s medical beliefs were significantly unorthodox to support award of sole decision-making authority of the children’s medical care to the father. The mother believed she was a “healer” who communicated directly with God.145 The mother’s immigration status, standing alone, was not probative of the mother’s fitness to be a parent to her children so as to deny her joint managing conservatorship where there was no evidence regarding any detention or immigration-related charge or any pending removal proceeding or that the mother was a subject of any criminal prosecution.146

A tape recording, made illegally by a father who placed a recording device in a child’s backpack, was not per se inadmissible in a proceeding in which the father sought to modify custody of the child. The statute prohibiting unauthorized recordings did not rebut a presumption of the admissibility of relevant evidence. A per se rule of inadmissibility would force the district court to close its eyes to relevant evidence and possibly place or leave a child in a dangerous living situation.147

3. Shared/Joint Parenting

There has been a strong push by fathers’ groups for a presumption of shared physical custody. Studies support shared physical residency where parents agree and want to make it work. Studies show, however, that forced shared residency can harm children and spouses in domestic violence and other high-conflict situations.148

The Wyoming Supreme Court overruled prior law and found that there is no presumption that shared child custody is contrary to the best interests of children. In one case, the court found it was in the child’s best interests to have the parents share custody until kindergarten and then award the father primary physical custody.149 If parents who have shared parental responsibility cannot agree as to education, the court permissibly engaged in a best interest analysis concerning the middle school two children would attend. Where the father agreed to file the application and pay for private school if the children got in, the trial court required the mother to cooperate and support the children’s application.150

A trial court granted a mother primary physical custody of children but ordered her to live within twenty-five miles of the father’s residence in Virginia. A custody evaluator had recommended that both the parents and children live in Virginia and the parents reside no more than a forty-five-minute drive apart. The court imposed the proximity requirement only after careful analysis of custody factors and the best interest of the child.151

4. Modification/Relocation

As a general rule, the parent seeking to modify an existing custody order bears the initial burden of showing a change in circumstances since entry of that order. Then the parent must demonstrate that modification is in the child’s best interests. Trial courts are given wide latitude in determining the child’s best interests.152 A mother’s allegation that the father of the child was dating a minor was a sufficient change of circumstances to allow an evidentiary hearing.153 When the original Montana parenting plan for two children had been recently revised after substantial litigation, the alleged wishes of the fifteen-year-old were not a sufficient change of circumstances to warrant modification of the parenting time.154 Idaho found that animosity was not a material change in circumstances.155

A self-executing change of custody or visitation is acceptable as long as it poses no conflict with the law’s emphasis on the best interests of the child. A self-executing change that constitutes a material change of circumstances, or is one that is allowable only upon a determination that it is in the best interests of the child at the time of the change, generally violates Georgia’s public policy.156

A mother’s relocation to a different county over two hours away and purchase of a home, with a plan to open a business, presented real, substantial, and unanticipated change of circumstances that warranted modification because the move made it impossible for the father to exercise midweek contact.157 Where a mother applied to relocate to Georgia for a new job with no intent to harm the father or deprive him of visitation, the father had the burden to show that the proposed relocation was not in the best interest of the child.158

Massachusetts found the evidence in divorce proceedings supported the finding, under the “real advantage test,” that allowing a mother to move with the child to Germany was in the best interest of the child where the child, who spoke German, would be attending better schools, would again be treated by her long-time pediatrician, would have support from a loving extended family with whom she had frequent and extensive contact since birth, had already attended German schools, and had kept in touch with her friends in Germany. Additionally, the child’s quality of life would be particularly improved through the impact of the improvement in the mother’s quality of life in Germany, where, unlike in Massachusetts, she could meet her expenses and not live in poverty.159 New Jersey changed its relocation test from a presumption that the child was happiest with the custodial parent to a best interest of the child standard when a parent requests to relocate out of state over the objection of the other parent.160

As usual, the relocation cases turned on their particular facts. The Alaska court found it was in the child’s best interest to modify an equal shared custody arrangement to give the mother primary physical custody and allow her to move out of state for economic reasons, the children’s education, increased family stability, and a better environment with her new husband.161 A Florida appellate court reversed the denial of a mother’s motion to move to South Florida, where her new husband had a new job, and she had cooperated to the extreme with the father’s, often unreasonable, demands for more time with the child.162 On the other hand, the Florida court of appeals upheld denial of a mother’s request to relocate even though she had stable employment out of state with an increased salary and job security. The child would be removed from the other parent and extended family and would not increase educational opportunities.163 An appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision to deny a mother with a primary residential custody request to relocate to her native Australia. The evidence showed the judge properly weighed the father’s former alcohol abuse, the acrimony between the parents, that the children were bonded to the state, and that the mother’s economic standing would improve if she relocated.164

A mother with primary physical custody except when the father was home from working overseas moved to modify after the father retired. The Alaska Supreme Court found that the trial court abused its discretion in granting the father custody fifty-nine percent of the time because it failed to consider in the best interest analysis that the father had intentionally misled the mother about his not going back to work after he was terminated and assigned disproportionate weight to grandparent involvement as a factor in the father’s favor.165

5. Parenting Time: Nonresidential Parent

A father petitioned pro se for a third time for unsupervised visitation with the child. His new employment provided increased stability. There was no link, however, between the new job and the reasons for supervised visitation, which were his anger issues that led to his pattern of intimidating behavior, and there was still a protection order in place.166 In a mother’s parentage action, the court properly granted a mother sole custody but erred in granting her unilateral authority to veto activities for the child during the father’s time by withholding her signature. The father would become little more than a babysitter.167

6. Nonparent Visitation

The Uniform Law Commission promulgated the Uniform Nonparent Custody and Visitation Act in July 2018. It addresses the rights of third parties other than parents to custody of or visitation with a child. The Act recognizes a right to seek custody or visitation for two categories of individuals: (1) nonparents who have served as consistent caretakers of a child without expectation of compensation and (2) nonparents who have a substantial relationship with a child and who demonstrate that denial of custody or visitation would result in harm to the child.168

Courts strictly construe nonparent visitation statutes. If the statute lists specific persons, such as grandparents and stepparents, others are excluded. The “purported” grandparents who had raised the deceased mother were not grandparents as defined in the Nebraska statute and thus lacked standing to seek visitation.169 In Indiana, a mother’s former boyfriend lacked standing where he did not establish he had a parental relationship with the mother’s child.170 A Montana former boyfriend also lacked standing where the evidence showed the mother did not cede her parenting authority to him, there was no intent that he coparent, and the mother retained decision-making power in all aspects of the child’s life.171

A mother was judicially estopped from arguing a person was a parent for visitation purposes when she successfully obtained child support based on the other person being a parent.172 An individual standing in loco parentis, which is temporary in nature, is not the functional equivalent of a lawful parent for all purposes and in all contexts. The parental preference rules still apply to a dispute with an adoptive or biological parent.173 In any petition seeking custody or visitation over the objection of a parent, the nonparent must rebut the presumption favoring the parent’s decision.174 California provides that an award of custody to a nonparent may be made if the court finds that awarding the child to the parent would be detrimental to the child and that an award of custody is in the best interests of the child.175

a. Stepparents

The appellate court reversed an award to a stepfather who had reared the child for fourteen years when the mother died. The court must consider if remaining with the biological father, who was in the service and had been a sporadic visitor, would result in demonstrable harm to the child.176 Where a husband, his wife, and a third woman had agreed to have a child and rear it together, a New York court found it in the best interests of the child to award the wife, who was a nonbiological, nonadoptive parent, shared legal custody with the biological mother and her former husband, the biological father. The wife and biological mother still lived together.177 In Connecticut, a third party must allege specific good faith allegations that the petitioner has a relationship with the child that is similar to the parent-child relationship and that denial of visitation will cause real and significant harm to the child. The allegation needs to be more than a “very strong bond”; the level of harm must rise to the level of neglect, abuse, or abandonment.178 Where a stepfather had not taken an active role in parenting until the mother died and the children lacked an emotional attachment to him, the trial court did not err in awarding custody of the minor children to the maternal and paternal grandmothers rather than the stepfather.179

b. Grandparents

Grandparents had mixed results. Where a father was willing to allow the maternal grandmother visitation after the mother’s death, the grandmother was not entitled to a court order.180 Grandparents had standing to seek visitation after the death of their son under a Mississippi statute. The chancellor properly considered the best interests of the children, ages eleven and nine, and found the visitation limited and not too disruptive.181 A maternal grandmother failed to establish existence of a substantial relationship and an “urgent reason” for government interference where she had contact one day a week and on weekends. She did not show she was a coparent or accepted full and permanent responsibilities to establish de facto parenthood.182

The Arizona Supreme Court abrogated a prior law finding that a nonparent is not required to show that the parent’s opinion on visitation would cause substantial harm to the child’s interests to rebut special weight given to the parent’s opinion. The special weight to the mother’s opinion was canceled by the special weight given to father’s opinion, so the best interest of the child was the test. Visiting paternal grandparents was in the best interest of the child.183

c. Same-Sex Partner

The only legal mechanism recognized that allows a parent and nonparent to share in the rights and responsibilities relevant to the care and upbringing of children is an agreement that confers custodial rights on the nonparent.184 A nonparent lacked standing to seek custody of the father’s child even though the nonparent had been involved in the child’s life since birth. The father had worked full time and attended law school at night but had paid support, and the forms only gave the nonparent as caregiver of limited duration.185

Virginia has consistently rejected the notions of de facto parent or psychological parent. It denied the former same-sex partner of a child’s biological mother custody of the child, who was born of artificial insemination during the relationship. The appellate court did not recognize the same-sex partner as a “parent” where the parties were not married when the child was born and there was no adoption. There is a rational basis for limiting the term “parent” to the relationship to a child through either biological procreation or legal adoption.186 While Pennsylvania found a mother’s same-sex former partner was not a “parent” who had standing to seek custody of a child born during the relationship,187 it did allow an ex-wife who stood in loco parentis to a child born during a same-sex marriage to pursue custody.188 A Mississippi court found a gestational mother was equitably estopped from challenging her spouse/the nongestational mother’s parental rights as to a child born through artificial insemination from an anonymous sperm donor.189

I. Child Support

1. Income

California noted that the child support guidelines define gross income broadly. The guidelines do not exclude amounts that a parent voluntarily defers or refuses to accept. Once there are no legal restrictions on the employee parent’s ability to exercise stock options and sell his or her share, the options must be counted as income.190 Where neither parent has the child for a majority of time, the parent with the higher income who bears the greater share of the child support obligation should be deemed the noncustodial parent for purposes of child support. A never-married mother who earned more than the father had to pay child support even though she had sole legal custody of the child.191

In a high-income case where the father’s income jumped to $15.5 million, the court should not only consider the high-income child support guidelines but also the reasonable needs of a particular child and the required expense statements.192 A trial court abused its discretion in deviating downward from the guidelines in child support where the mother’s earning capacity was $14,000 and the father’s was $335,000. He also had a domestic partner helping with his living expenses.193

A trial court did not have a valid basis for imputing a father’s annual bonus of $133,332.64 rather than his next year’s annual bonus of $45,000, which was the most recent. The reduction was based on the company’s profits and there was no indication the bonus would increase in the near future.194 A trial court erred in not limiting the scope of discovery to evidence that could show a corporation was the alter ego of the husband such as (1) considering if the corporation operated as a separate entity, (2) commingling of funds and other assets, (3) failure to maintain adequate corporate records, (4) the nature of the corporations’ ownership and control, (5) absence of corporate assets and undercapitalization, (6) use of the corporation as a shell, (7) disregard of legal formalities, and (8) diversion of the corporation’s funds and assets to noncorporate assets.195

Amortization of a father’s perpetual assets in the form of fishing permits and quota shares is nondeductible from his income even if permissible for income tax purposes.196 Where the father signed on to a professional football team, earning a substantial signing bonus, it was “gross income,” and evidence supported a child support award based on fourteen percent of the income. The chancellor properly considered the relevant factors but erred in alternating the child tax exemption where the mother did not have enough income to benefit.197 A Missouri trial court did not err in including private school tuition in the mother’s child support award.198

2. Modification

A father failed to establish existence of substantial change in circumstances to modify his child support downward. He failed to show his bipolar disorder interfered with his ability to obtain gainful employment.199 A father’s alleged newly discovered evidence that the children’s condition was somewhat improved so that his expenses decreased some did not support his motion to vacate the upward modification the court had ordered.200

A father’s increase of income of over fifteen percent once he began collecting social security benefits in addition to his salary was sufficient to permit modification of child support.201 An increase in value of a father’s stock portfolio was not income required to be included in calculation of income modification where such growth had not been realized.202

Where parents share joint physical custody of one child, but one parent has primary custody of other one, courts must determine each parent’s support obligations based on a flat-rate percentage correlated with the number of children parents have, divide the support obligation based on the number of children parents have, and offset for the children they share jointly.203

A trial court could not order application of a cross-credit that had the effect of reducing an ex-husband’s monthly child-support obligation from $442 to $25 without making findings that reflected consideration of the expenses of the child in proportion to the parents’ incomes or whether the cross-credit would have had a substantial negative effect on the child’s standard of living.204 A trial court was required to hold an evidentiary hearing on the issue of whether the parties provided substantially equal care of their son prior to issuing a child support order in divorce proceedings; finding of substantially equal care was not based on a limited list of statutory factors but on an open-ended inquiry requiring finding the extent to which the parents participated in the child’s total care.205


The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) provides a system where only one child support order may be in effect at any one time. Where there were child support orders from Wisconsin and Nebraska, Nebraska had jurisdiction to determine which was the controlling support order. The district court had personal jurisdiction over both the mother and father.206 Missouri could determine which of multiple child support orders involving the same child controls but lacked jurisdiction to modify a New York child support order that had been registered in Georgia.207 An interesting New York case used UIFSA and the Full Faith and Credit to Child Support Orders Act (FFCCSOA) to find that New Jersey lacked continuing jurisdiction to modify child support once all parties had left the state. Under UIFSA, the father would have had to travel to where the mother and child were to modify, but the New York court found that FFCCSOA preempts UIFSA so the father could bring an action in New York, where judgment was registered, for enforcement to modify.208 A Florida court used FFCCSOA to modify the duration of the child support from twenty-one to eighteen years after the New York court lost continuing jurisdiction.209 This is one of the problems of the conflict between UIFSA and FFCCSOA.

A Utah judgment against a former husband for a particular amount of child support and spousal support arrears as of a particular date was a final judgment as to arrearages owing as of a particular date. Therefore, it was entitled to full faith and credit in subsequent post dissolution proceedings in California even though there might have been additional arrearages owing.210

North Dakota found it retained jurisdiction to modify its previous order when a mother and child were residing in another state and the military father was stationed outside the state. The father’s residence was either outside the United States or, as a military person, in North Dakota. Being assigned to duty elsewhere did not change his residency in North Dakota.211

4. Termination/Enforcement

The father’s child support obligation for two children did not automatically terminate, without further legal action, as to the older child upon the child’s emancipation. The father needed to move to modify, and the order calculating the new child support amount was a modification of the prior support obligation that could not be applied retroactively to accrued arrearages.212 A father’s child support obligation was properly terminated when the child moved from the mother’s house to his house.213

The noncustodial parent of a child from a prior marriage on whose behalf a child support modification petition is filed can ask the court to take into consideration that party’s support obligation to later-born minor children from subsequent marriages as a deviation factor.214 A father was obligated to continue paying child support for his stepson, although the stepson’s biological father intervened in the mother’s custody modification proceeding. The father retained legal custody and continued to act as the stepson’s psychological father.215

A New York court found that a father’s agreement to contribute to his daughter’s college expenses was not conditioned on her consulting him on her choice of college.216 A trial court properly ordered the father to pay sixty-one percent of the child’s out-of-pocket college expenses and had discretion to not impose a public university cap in calculating the father’s obligation for college expenses where the father had promised to help the child in attending a private college.217 A college child’s participation in a college ROTC program did not constitute an emancipation warranting termination of the father’s child support obligation.218

As a matter of first impression, a father was entitled to receive a credit against his already-paid child support obligation based on the daughter’s receipt of a lump-sum payment for past-due Social Security Disability Insurance derivative benefits, even though there was no child support arrearage.219

J. Cohabitation

The rate of nonmarital cohabitation within the United States is increasing, but there is no consistent legal doctrine among the states for division of jointly acquired property when cohabitants break up or when one cohabitant dies. Instead, courts tackle these case by case. The Joint Editorial Boards for Uniform Family Laws and Uniform Probate Laws recommended an attempt to standardize state approaches. In 2018 the Uniform Law Commission authorized a drafting committee called the Committee on the Economic Rights of Unmarried Cohabitants, which will have its first meeting in March 2019.

In the petitioner’s action for replevin, the evidence supported that the bulldog had been a birthday gift from the former same-sex partner and should be returned to the petitioner.220 Following prior precedent, the Wisconsin court noted “that unjust enrichment by a former cohabitant is founded on the premise of a mutual undertaking or joint enterprise which results in an accumulation of assets in which the parties expected to share equally but which are unfairly retained by one party.” If there is no “joint enterprise,” there is no case for unjust enrichment.221

New York determined that principles of comity required it to recognize Vermont property law to determine the division of property acquired by a couple when they had a Vermont civil union.222

K. Divorce, Annulment, and Separate Maintenance

1. Jurisdiction

The Vermont Supreme Court held that, as a matter of first impression, a husband’s temporary nonimmigration visa status did not prevent him from establishing Vermont residency. Therefore, the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction over the husband’s divorce action.223

A court declined to give an ex-husband relief from a ten-year-old judgment based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The ex-wife had already sold properties and paid off marital debt pursuant to the decree, and he had failed to raise bigamy as a defense or seek to annul the marriage.224 Texas courts rejected a woman’s argument that Texas cannot apply its divorce law when it violates her strongly held religious beliefs that marriages cannot be ended by divorce.225

2. Annulment

A Texas court annulled a five-year marriage and awarded $45,000 in damages where the wife showed she was fraudulently induced to enter the marriage. The husband lied about his history as to education, previous marriages, military experience, employment, and earning ability.226 A man who claims his future wife defrauded him when she signed an Islamic marriage document agreeing to receive only a copy of the Quran if they divorced is not entitled to an annulment. He failed to show she fraudulently induced him to enter the marriage by signing the “mahr” agreement.227

In South Carolina, an annulment means that the marriage never existed. Therefore, when the wife married another man three years before the annulment, she did not commit bigamy because the prior annulled marriage never existed.228 Other states have disagreed on that one.

3. Evidence

Nebraska determined that while referees can be used in a divorce case, they should generally not be used.229 A husband installed spyware on his wife’s phone to obtain all communications, including privileged conversations between his wife and her attorney. The husband also engaged in spoliation of the evidence of his hacking, while simultaneously claiming Fifth Amendment privilege for his actions. The trial judge struck ALL of the husband’s pleadings as an appropriate sanction.230 A wife was not entitled to raise the defense of condonation to her fling with a younger man because the wife had lied about the beginning, timing, and duration of her affair.231

A husband who shared a marital home with his wife during the divorce placed an iPad in a shared office and an iPhone under his bed to monitor the wife’s activities while he was out of town. The judge found that the husband was trying to get an upper hand in the divorce and found him guilty of stalking.232 In another case, the wife filed for dissolution of marriage, and the husband was charged and convicted of sexual assault. While the husband’s appeal was pending, the trial court found that the husband was exclusively responsible for the breakdown of the marriage and gave the wife a disproportionate distribution of property. Because the conviction was reversed, the property division award also had to be reversed, as the conviction was the basis for the award.233

In New Hampshire, when the husband dies during the divorce proceeding, the parties’ property division agreement dies with it and does not survive as a private contract.234 The death of one spouse after entry of a divorce decree, however, does not mean the other gets to keep all the marital property because a final decree was issued and all that remained was the property division.235 In North Dakota, however, a man whose wife died after their divorce was granted, but before the marital property was divided, is the surviving spouse with regard to her estate.236

L. Domestic Violence

A New Jersey resident’s conduct of allegedly threatening phone calls, emails, and texts to the wife gave Colorado personal jurisdiction over the nonresident for purposes of issuing a civil protective order.237 In Illinois, an ex-girlfriend is a family member for purposes of the domestic violence statute.238 California held that the act of purposefully sending a video of a mock suicide to a plaintiff in California is conduct that would disturb the plaintiff’s peace of mind and therefore justified granting her a protective order, even though the domestic violence occurred in Georgia.239

A former girlfriend’s conduct of sending two letters to her ex-boyfriend’s current girlfriend, calling her at work, and hacking her social media account was insufficient evidence of a repeated course of conduct that caused fear and alarm, as required for issuance of a full order for protection in Missouri.240 In Minnesota, however, episodes of past physical abuse, standing alone, can support the issuance of a protective order, even if the instances are three and four years old.241

The doctrine of unclean hands is unavailable as a defense to a petition for a stalking no-contact order in Illinois because the purpose of the Act is to protect all stalking victims, not just “innocent” victims.242 Maine held that an appellate challenge to the issuance of a protective order remains justiciable after the order has expired; otherwise, a person against whom an order was erroneously issued would be deprived of an opportunity to gain relief from the very real consequences of that order.243 On the other hand, Ohio ruled that a man cannot appeal a domestic violence protection order obtained by his ex-wife because it has expired and he had not shown that the now-unenforceable civil order has “legal” collateral consequences.244 A trial court’s authority to modify or dissolve a protective order doesn’t include the ability to change or eliminate factual findings on which the order is based.245

M. Marriage

A state law providing that a ward’s right to marry “is subject to court approval” did not require that approval be obtained before the wedding but may be obtained afterward.246 Several states dealt with marriage licenses, or lack thereof. The Virginia Supreme Court held that where celebrants had failed to get a license until after the ceremony, the officiant’s failure to file the marriage certificate within five days of the ceremony did not void the marriage, nor did the officiant’s performance of the marriage ceremony without a lawful license, even if the performance was in violation of statute.247 Where a husband and wife had applied in person, the failure to return the signed, confidential marriage license to the county after the solemnization ceremony as required by California law did not invalidate the marriage.248 A husband’s family does not have standing to bring a declaratory judgment proceeding to declare the husband’s marriage invalid for failure to follow the marriage licensing procedure.249

A couple who lived together for twenty-three years and portrayed themselves as either married or single depending on what was most financially advantageous to them did not have a common law marriage.250 A one-night stay in the District of Columbia, even where the parties believe themselves to be married and have been through a marriage ceremony, was insufficient to establish cohabitation for purposes of a common law marriage.251 In deciding whether a same-sex common law marriage exists, the Colorado Court of Appeals applied Obergefell retroactively and found that the same test for common law marriage exists for same-sex couples as for opposite-sex couples.252 Tennessee held that a petitioner failed to rebut the presumption of the validity of the second marriage because she had failed to conduct a search of all the counties in which the decedent could have divorced his first wife.253

N. Names

Most cases this year dealt with attempts to change the names of children. A court erred in a name change for a child by applying inaccurate factors that had no basis in the cases and perpetuated gender distinctions in favor of the father.254 The best interests of the child standard applied to a request by parents who filed for divorce two months after the child’s birth. The court determined that hyphenating the child’s surname to include both parents would allow the child to identify with both parents, and the father testified that in Hispanic families, children often have hyphenated names.255 The mother cannot change the name of the child without divulging the name of the father and giving him notice, even when the child is born out of wedlock and paternity has not been judicially determined.256 A trial court erred when it refused the parents’ request to change the first and middle names of their transgendered child.257

O. Parentage

In 2017, the Uniform Law Commission approved revisions to the Uniform Parentage Act. These revisions make the act gender neutral and now differentiate between traditional and gestational surrogacy. Three states—California, Vermont, and Washington—have enacted the UPA.

1. Presumed

Same-sex couples get the same presumption of parentage of a child born during their marriage.258 Arizona found that the statutory marital paternity presumption is a benefit of marriage and the state cannot deny same-sex spouses the same benefits afforded opposite-sex spouses. In addition, the mother was equitably estopped from rebutting her spouse’s presumptive parentage.259

Where the same-sex couple is not married, however, the cases are not uniform. The Michigan Court of Appeals found that a statute defining a “parent” as the natural or adoptive parent of a child was not unconstitutional as applied to the biological mother’s former partner.260 A New York court noted that separated same-sex couples who were unable to legally marry when they were an intact couple, but who were clearly partnered, and who undeniably sought to birth and rear children jointly as a family, have no statute allowing the nonbiological parent to seek an order of filiation over the objection of the other biological parent. Heterosexual couples can file for paternity, with the court being empowered to determine who the two legal parents of a child are, regardless of whether the parties agree on that issue. The court found a nonbiological, nonadoptive parent was entitled to an order of filiation where they had been in a registered partnership from 2005 to 2011.261

A biological father was allowed to proceed with a paternity action, even though the mother’s husband was the presumed father.262 A biological father who asserted his parental rights when he learned of the mother’s deception when the child was five had not made a voluntary waiver of his superior right to custody.263 A family court appropriately applied equitable estoppel in adjudicating the putative father’s paternity of the subject child, despite another man’s prior execution of acknowledgment of paternity. The mother permitted the putative father to hold himself out as the child’s father. The father supported the child most of the child’s life, and he took care of the child while the mother was incarcerated.264

A child’s legal father was entitled to equitable relief from a paternity order after genetic testing revealed he was not the biological father. Even though ten years had passed, the child’s only interest in upholding his paternity was financial. There was no parent/child relationship.265 On the other hand, a Kansas court found that a man who signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity could not challenge the acknowledgment more than a year later based on the defense that he had not read the acknowledgment and did not know what it meant.266

After a trial court awarded joint legal and physical custody, the wife’s uncorroborated testimony that she had sex with another man and the child looked similar to him was insufficient to rebut the presumption that the husband was the father of a child born to a marriage.267 A statute providing that a person is a presumed parent if he receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child requires something more than a man’s being the mother’s casual friend or long-term boyfriend.268

A divorce court adopted a memorandum of agreement that settled the issue of the paternity of a child born during the parties’ marriage in favor of the child’s biological father, and that designated the wife, the child’s biological father, and the husband as “co-parents” of the child; it did not confer any enforceable parental rights on the husband. A subsequent parenting order provided that the husband was a third party with visitation rights, not a parent.269

P. Property

1. Classification

The Kentucky Supreme Court decided that contingent fee agreements executed by the attorney husband with clients were marital property divisible in a marriage dissolution proceeding, rather than a component of the income of the husband when payment was received from clients. Although the attorney husband did not possess a vested right to the actual contingent fee itself until the case was won or settled, he and a client sign a contract for a contingent fee, so the attorney possessed the right to work on that case and to bring suit if the client unjustly interfered with that right.270 North Carolina distinguished a contingent fee earned by a firm. It decided that a husband spouse’s share of a contingent fee earned by virtue of the spouse’s ownership interest in a law firm is not of the same type as vested and nonvested pensions and retirement accounts. The husband was a shareholder in a law firm that settled a case that was worth millions of dollars months after the husband and wife separated. The contingency fees that the husband ultimately received were separate property, and not deferred compensation, nor divisible property for the purposes of equitable distribution.271

Under Indiana law, funds in two college savings accounts that an ex-husband had opened for his two children were his property. The trial court, during post-dissolution proceedings, lacked authority to make the ex-wife a co-owner of these accounts.272 A condominium a man bought shortly before starting to date the woman he eventually married should not have been classified as a marital asset.273

Most courts included student loan debt as part of the marital estate even if acquired premarital, when the parties used the loan during the marriage.274 A doctor’s premarital medical student loan was part of the marital estate because in South Dakota, it is only when a spouse has made no or a limited contribution to the acquisition of the property and has no need for support should that property be classified as the other spouse’s nonmarital property.275

Ownership interest in oil company was marital property. The company’s primary asset, deep oil drilling rights, entered the marriage as nonmarital but was comingled with marital assets during the marriage when the oil company loaned funds to the husband’s other company.276

Kentucky held that the $220,000 the ex-husband expected to receive when restricted stock he earned during his marriage vested eighteen days after entry of his divorce decree did not have to be shared with his ex-wife because prior to vesting, the stock options are a mere expectancy.277 A severance payment made to a former employee was not marital property where the husband received it two days after the parties separated. The payment was for the husband’s agreement not to compete for twelve months following termination of employment, which occurred after separation.278

A wife met the burden of presenting evidence that all or a portion of the personal injury proceeds she received from drug company during the parties’ marriage following her stroke were nonmarital. Testimony of the wife and her mother and evidence from a treating physician showed her personal losses and lost future earnings.279 Money received as a settlement for the husband’s on-the-job injuries that was deposited in a joint bank account is marital.280

Money in the amount of $100,000 that was wired by a wife’s parents in China into the parties’ joint checking account for the sole purpose of assisting the wife to satisfy immigration requirements was “nonmarital property.” The money was a gift to the wife, and neither used the money until the wife removed it from the joint account without objection.281

A bonus paid by the employer after the divorce based on work done during cohabitation and marriage was a marital asset subject to equitable distribution only for that part earned during marriage. The legislature did not intend to treat property acquired during cohabitation or civil union the same as that acquired during marriage.282

2. Transactional Problems

A Texan who, shortly before his divorce, transferred ownership of his life insurance policy to his wife, whom he had also named as primary beneficiary, gifted the policy to her.283 Texas also held that a man who signed and delivered a letter to his wife stating he gave “all my right in ownership” to her had gifted her the property. The court rejected his defense that he claimed to be under “unspeakable emotional distress” when he wrote it and that his intention was to mollify her rather than to give her property, and that he never delivered any property to her.284

An Alaskan court had to look at the intent of the owner of separate property to determine if properties in Louisiana and Mississippi had been transmuted into marital.285 The income from the husband’s separate International Fishing Quotas used to pay for the marital home did not transmute the fishing quotas into marital property, nor did the fact that the wife worked in the fishing business.286

Sufficient evidence supported the trial court’s finding that funds in the husband’s investment account were marital property where he had transferred all but $21,920.30 of the $224,305.78 in his 401(k) account to the investment account within a three-month period. The husband did not list the investment account on his affidavit. The trial court found that the husband withdrew $70,530.00 from the investment account in violation of mutual restraining orders.287

The Nebraska court distinguished between a cattle herd, which is a traceable asset and generally self-sustaining, and crops, which are short-term assets that are the product of investing input, maintenance, and equipment and therefore are not capable of being traced.288

Refinancing the marital home during marriage by itself was insufficient to transmute the property from separate to marital.289 In South Carolina, however, if separate property is used by the parties in support of the marriage or in some other way that establishes the parties’ intent to make it marital property, it transmutes into marital property.290

3. Pensions and Benefits

The wife’s retirement account was marital and subject to equitable division, even though the account predated the marriage. Retirement money earned or saved during the marriage had been transferred into the account. The wife, who was an attorney, explicitly acknowledged that she had placed marital assets in a premarital account.291

A state court cannot craft equitable remedies to restore to the nonmilitary member the amount of her share of the pension that was lost when the military member elected disability benefits in lieu of retirement.292 Alaska, however, held that even if the trial court erred in awarding the former wife the equivalent of fifty percent of former husband’s Veteran’s Administration disability pay, that itself would not render the judgment void, although it might be voidable under federal law if properly challenged.293

A wife was granted forty percent of her husband’s military retirement benefits as part of equitable distribution. The Navy determined the benefits were actually disability benefits that could not be divided. Six years later, the wife moved to reform the divorce decree to award alimony. The court found it was without authority to award alimony where it had not been awarded originally.294

The Kansas Supreme Court found that an ex-husband military servicemember implicitly consented to the divorce court’s personal jurisdiction over him, which allowed jurisdiction to divide military retirement benefits.295

4. Valuation and Distribution of Property

The court found the comparable sales approach used by the wife’s expert was appropriate for land owned by a limited liability company (LLC) in which the husband was a minority owner.296

Trial courts have broad discretion in accepting valuation testimony. In an Ohio case, the trial court adopted the husband’s expert’s valuation of the family business, an adult novelty store, of $338,000. The wife’s valuation expert valued the business at $205,000. Both experts used an income approach to value. The court awarded the business to the wife at the husband’s value. The husband argued that his expert’s valuation failed to take into account a checking and a savings account. The court of appeals rejected the husband’s approach, stating that the income approach “by design does not take into consideration the assets of the business.”297 A court upheld a trial court’s valuation of a husband’s stock at $217 a share rather than the company’s valuation of $179 a share. The wife’s expert used the asset approach to value the stock and had stated that the company’s method was not an accepted valuation methodology.298

Courts should consider the tax consequences of orders. Montana determined that a divorce court should have addressed a farmer’s claim that he would end up with a million-dollar tax bill if he had to sell the family ranch to make good on its property division.299

A trial court had no authority to make a nonjoined limited liability company pay a husband’s household and family expenses during pendency of the divorce. While the court could distribute a spouse’s interest in company stock in a nonjoined company, it could not distribute assets of the company itself.300 A trial court erred when it determined that the husband could continue to earn the same amount of investment income after marriage that he earned during marriage when it awarded forty percent of the investments to the wife in the property division.301

North Dakota uses the source of the property as a factor in the division. Therefore, it was not error to award the wife most of the farmland when it had been in her family for three generations.302 A divorce court properly refused to discount a husband’s minority interest in a farming business he formed with his parents because the husband had always managed the farm, and the trial judge “could not envision a scenario where he would not be the manager.”303

5. Dissipation

Evidence supported a trial court’s finding that a husband engaged in economic misconduct in the operation of two businesses prior to the divorce judgment. The husband unilaterally incurred significant liabilities, implemented a separate accounting system, systematically retained cash from sales, and refused sales to more than a few buys while managing one business, which had a detrimental impact on the marital estate.304

A husband appealed a judgment ordering him to pay the wife $1,952,056.50 for breach of his spousal fiduciary duties in failing to disclose to her that he risked in options trading an additional $8 million more than the $2.5 million in community assets she agreed he could trade in their investment account. The undisclosed and reckless trading resulted in a loss of almost $4 million, in addition to the initial $2.5 million.305 Texas determined that a man who increased his political contributions after his wife filed for divorce was properly required to reimburse the marital estate for that money.306

A husband’s adultery was “not sufficiently egregious and shocking to the conscience” to warrant awarding his wife seventy-five percent of the value of their $4.75 million Park Avenue home. His insider trading, criminal trial, and incarceration, however, warranted a 60/40% equitable division because he caused the family to undergo financial losses and substantial decrease in standard of living.307 In another New York case, the court affirmed an equitable distribution award granting the wife two real estate properties, which were the only marital assets available for distribution because the parties’ business had been destroyed because of the husband’s criminal activities.308 Where the Texas husband had continuously abused the wife’s daughter from another relationship, it was not just and right to award him twenty percent of the couple’s home.309

6. Enforcement

One state cannot exercise jurisdiction on property outside the state in a divorce case. If the court has personal jurisdiction over both parties, the court can order one party to transfer the property according to the law of the state. A Kansas court could not enforce, under the principle of comity, a Nebraska district court order purporting to directly transfer legal title to land situated in Kansas.310

A property settlement agreement between the parties is valid even though no divorce proceeding had been commenced and even though the wife received over ninety percent of the property.311

An ex-husband and ex-wife orally modified the property settlement in their divorce decree to allow the ex-husband to keep his personal property at the ex-wife’s house beyond the original ninety-day window without forfeiting it, despite a clause in the settlement agreement requiring written modification. The ex-wife had asked the ex-husband to wait to pick up his property until the house was sold, and the ex-husband agreed. Even a contract with an integration clause may be modified through oral agreement or by mutual conduct of the parties if certain conditions are met. First, there must be evidence that the parties orally modified the contract terms. Second, there must be evidence that the parties have acted consistently with the new terms.312

When a military pension is to be paid out in installments, the dormancy period runs separately on each installment when past due. Therefore, in a former wife’s contempt action, the installments that were dormant were subject to revival.313 An ex-husband was found in contempt for failing to pay $111,666 owed to the ex-wife where he owned unencumbered real estate with a value of $400,000 at the time he quit making payments and transferred ownership of real estate to his new wife as a tenancy by the entirety. The court did not buy the husband’s defense that he was acting on advice of counsel.314

Q. Torts

A Kentucky man may pursue negligence claims against his wife and their insurer over her placement of a motion-sensing air freshener where it sprayed him in the face.315 North Carolina held again that the torts of alienation of affections and criminal conversation do not violate either the U.S. or the North Carolina Constitution.316

The husband can sue the wife’s attorney for sending copies of the divorce petition to the Wall Street Journal when the pleadings contained admittedly false statements.317 The FBI is not liable for an agent’s use of work equipment to spy on his wife.318 A mother’s claim for medical expenses of her children, who were hurt when their father’s car was hit by a truck, is not affected by his possible fault in the accident.319

Maine’s wrongful-birth statute—which bars recovery for birth of a healthy baby—is constitutional.320 A child who was adopted out cannot sue for the wrongful death of his biological mother.321 South Carolina held that the father of a child born out of wedlock failed to reasonably support or otherwise provide for the needs of the child and, therefore, was not entitled to share in the proceeds of a wrongful death suit.322 New Jersey held that the same-sex partner of a child’s parent can sue for bystander recovery when a car killed the child.323 In Washington, whether an estranged spouse qualifies as a statutory beneficiary under the state’s wrongful death and special survival statutes depends on whether the marriage is defunct. In a wrongful death case, the jury will have to decide whether the spouses, by their conduct, indicate that they no longer have a will to stay married because physical separation is, by itself, insufficient to determine whether a marriage is defunct.324

A father brought an action against his child’s therapist for medical malpractice and negligence, alleging that the therapist’s use of unreliable treatment methods resulted in the child’s false allegations of sexual abuse against him. The Utah Supreme Court reversed a trial court’s dismissal and held that the therapist owed a traditional duty not to affirmatively act in a manner that recklessly caused physical harm to the father, and the therapist had a duty to refrain from recklessly giving rise to false memories or fabricated allegations of sexual abuse committed by the father.325

III. Conclusion

The theme this year may be “waiting.” There were several cases across the country challenging the federal administration’s immigration policies. While injunctions were issued in some cases, most cases are awaiting trial on the substantive issues. Over a year after the new tax code changes, the IRS has not issued regulations. On the state level, parents with children appear to be exceptionally mobile. There were more cases than usual discussing jurisdictional issues and interpreting various provisions of the UCCJEA. High-conflict parents and relocation issues also continued to occupy large amounts of judicial time. Hopefully, by this time next year, there will be some more definitive answers in some areas.


1. Sveen v. Melin, 138 U.S. 1815 (2018).

2. NAACP v. Trump, 298 F. Supp. 3d 209 (D.D.C. 2018) (staying order vacating rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program); Batalla Vidal v. Nielsen, 279 F. Supp. 3d 401 (E.D.N.Y. 2018) (claims that DACA rescission was motivated by discriminatory animus was plausible); Medina v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Sec., 313 F. Supp. 3d 1237 (W.D. Wash. 2018) (granting preliminary injunction enjoining government from terminating DACA status); Inland Empire—Immigrant Youth Collective v. Nielsen, No. EDCV172048PSGSHKX, 2018 WL 1061408 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 26, 2018) (unpublished).

3. Ms. L. v. U.S. Immigr. & Customs Enf’t, 310 F. Supp. 3d 1133 (S.D. Cal. 2018), modified, 330 F.R.D. 284 (S.D. Cal. 2019).

4. Hernandez v. Mesa, 885 F.3d 811 (5th Cir. 2018).

5. Brackeen v. Zinke, 338 F. Supp. 3d 514 (N.D. Tex. 2018).

6. In re Extradition of Fordham, 281 F. Supp. 3d 789 (D. Alaska 2017).

7. Stimmel v. Sessions, 879 F.3d 198 (6th Cir. 2018).

8. Xie v. Turner Designs Hydro Carbon Instruments, Inc., No. 117CV00284LJOSKO, 2017 WL 6371363 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 13, 2017) (unpublished).

9. Martinez v. Berrios, No. CV 18-985, 2018 WL 1426598 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 22, 2018) (unpublished).

10. Sindi v. El-Moslimany, 896 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2018).

11. Moreno v. Zank, 895 F.3d 917 (6th Cir. 2018).

12. Ahmed v. Ahmed, 867 F.3d 682 (6th Cir. 2017).

13. Soto v. Contreras, 880 F.3d 706 (5th Cir. 2018).

14. Rath v. Marcoski, 898 F.3d 1306 (11th Cir. 2018) (awarding a Czech father $73,219.50 in attorney fees, $5,421 in taxable costs, and $10,849.76 in expenses).

15. In re Simmons, 584 B.R. 295 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 2018).

16. In re Chernushin, 584 B.R. 567 (D. Colo.), aff’d, 911 F.3d 1265 (10th Cir. 2018).

17. In re Lusk, 589 B.R. 678 (Bankr. E.D. Cal. 2018).

18. DeVos v. Price, 583 B.R. 850 (E.D. Pa. 2018).

19. In re Romo, No. 17-21440-DOB, 2018 BL 172974 (Bankr. E.D. Mich. May 14, 2018), available at

20. In re Pelley, No. AP 17-1011-BAH, 2017 WL 4286134 (Bankr. D.N.H. Sept. 26, 2017) (unpublished).

21. In re Wilbur, 574 B.R. 782 (Bank. N.D. Ga. 2017).

22. Laborers’ Pension Fund v. Miscevic, 880 F.3d 927 (7th Cir. 2018).

23. Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada v. Jackson, 877 F.3d 698 (6th Cir. 2017).

24. Ex parte Carter, 813 S.E.2d 686 (S.C. 2018).

25. K.L.R. v. K.G.S., 264 So. 3d 65 (Ala. Civ. App. 2018), cert. denied (May 11, 2018).

26. Frank R. v. Mother Goose Adoptions, 402 P.3d 996 (Ariz. 2017) (finding actual notice of the proceedings and an opportunity to timely register).

27. In re Adoption of C.H.M., 812 S.E.2d 804 (N.C. 2018).

28. In re Adoption of C.L., 427 P.3d 951 (Kan. 2018).

29. In re Adoption of SSO, 406 P.3d 723 (Wyo. 2017) (preventing a father who did not dispute that court had obtained service by publication to terminate parental rights to collaterally attack jurisdiction in adoption proceeding).

30. In re Adoption of L.R.B., 111 N.E.3d 38 (Ohio App. 2018) (finding that biological father’s consent to adoption was not required where stepfather showed he had de minimis contact for three years).

31. In re Adoption of M.G.B.-E, 110 N.E.3d 1236 (Ohio 2018) (finding that probate court could properly determine whether biological father had failed to have more than de minimis contact with his children for at least a year prior to filing the petition to adopt or if there was justifiable excuse because mother interfered with visitation).

32. In re Adoption of M.A.S., 419 P.3d 204 (Okla. 2018).

33. Nguyen v. Boynes, 396 P.3d 774 (Nev. 2017).

34. Jennifer T. v. Lindsay P., 906 N.W.2d 49 (Neb. 2018).

35. Gomer v. Gomer, 86 N.E.3d 920 (Ohio App. Ct. 2017) (invalidating an agreement where a husband failed to disclose all of his assets before its execution).

36. Brantley v. Brantley, 814 S.E.2d 787 (Ga. Ct. App. 2018).

37. Patterson v. Patterson, 247 So. 3d 1148 (La. Ct. App. 2018).

38. Sanderson v. Sanderson, 245 So. 3d 421 (Miss. 2018).

39. In re Marriage of Erpelding, 911 N.W.2d 397 (Iowa 2018).

40. In re Marriage of I.C. & Q.C., 551 S.W.3d 119 (Tex. 2018).

41. Buskirk v. Buskirk, 86 N.E.3d 217 (Ind. Ct. App. 2017).

42. McGeehan v. McGeehan, 167 A.3d 579 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2017), cert. denied, 138 S. Ct. 1288 (2018).

43. Northington v. Northington, 257 So. 3d 326 (Ala. Civ. App. 2017).

44. Hockema v. Hockema, 403 P.3d 1080 (Alaska 2017) (reversing trial court’s grant of a wife’s request for alimony).

45. Jaro v. Jaro, 198 A.3d 1270 (Vt. 2018).

46. Knudson v. Knudson, 916 N.W.2d 793 (N.D. 2018).

47. Smith v. Smith, 819 S.E.2d 769 (S.C. Ct. App. 2018).

48. Macintosh v. Macintosh, 184 A.3d 841 (Del. 2018).

49. Greco v. Greco, 77 N.Y.S.3d 157 (App. Div. 2018).

50. Yuhasz v. Yuhasz, No. M201700880COAR3CV, 2018 WL 2374107 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 24, 2018).

51. Cohen v. Cohen, 176 A.3d 92 (Conn. 2018).

52. Wiedel v. Wiedel, 911 N.W.2d 582 (Neb. 2018).

53. MacDonald v. MacDonald, 430 P.3d 612 (Utah 2018). See Armendariz v. Armendariz, 436 P.3d 294 (Utah Ct. App. 2018) (finding the obligor’s retirement was an event that was foreseeable at the time of the divorce so it did not constitute a ground for modification).

54. Orr v. Orr, 410 P.3d 181 (Mont. 2017).

55. Cohen, 176 A.3d 92.

56. In re Marriage of Simpson, 430 P.3d 999 (Mont. 2018).

57. Lockamy v. Lockamy, 805 S.E.2d 5 (Ga. 2017).

58. Harris v. Harris, 241 So. 3d 622 (Miss. 2018).

59. Collins v. Leeds, 813 S.E.2d 902 (Va. Ct. App. 2018).

60. Onstot v. Onstot, 906 N.W.2d 300 (Neb. 2018). See also Murphy v. Murphy, 188 A.3d 144 (Conn. App. Ct. 2018) (noting ex-husband had only to show that wife’s cohabitation caused a change in circumstances to alter her financial needs).

61. Dishon v. Dishon, No. M2017-01378-COA-R3CV, 2018 WL 3493159 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 20, 2018).

62. Rose v. Rose, 181 A.3d 225 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2018).

63. Scott v. Scott, 423 P.3d 1275 (Utah 2017).

64. Provenzano v. Jones, 805 S.E.2d 909 (Ga. 2017). See In re Marriage of Knoll, 381 P.3d 490 (Kan. Ct. App. 2016).

65. Morford v. Morford, 118 N.E.3d 937 (Ohio Ct. App. 2018).

66. In re Marriage of Williams, 410 P.3d 1271 (Colo. Ct. App. 2017).

67. Dalton v. Dalton, 551 S.W.3d 126 (Tex. 2018).

68. Kincade v. Kincade, No. M2017-00797-COAR3CV, 2018 WL 1631415 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 4, 2018) (awarding wife attorney fees).

69. Rosen v. Kaplan, 76 N.Y.S.3d 262 (App. Div. 2018).

70. Williams v. Sapp, 255 So. 3d 912 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018).

71. Winegeart v. Winegeart, 910 N.W.2d 906 (S.D. 2018) (wife argued parties had orally agreed to sale without realtor’s fees).

72. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-318.03 (West 2018).

73. In re Marriage of Rooks, 429 P.3d 579 (Colo. 2018) (listing as factors the intended use of the pre-embryos; a party’s demonstrated ability, or inability, to become a genetic parent through other means; the parties’ reasons for undertaking IVF; the emotional, financial, or logistical hardship for the person seeking to avoid becoming a genetic parent; any demonstrated bad faith or attempt to use the pre-embryos as unfair leverage; and other unique considerations).

74. McQueen v. Gadberry, 507 S.W.3d 127 (Mo. Ct. App. 2016).

75. P.M. v. T.B., 907 N.W.2d 522 (Iowa 2018).

76. In re Raymond T. v. Samantha G., 74 N.Y.S.3d 730 (Fam. Ct. 2018).

77. In re Adoption of J., 59 Misc. 3d 937 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 2018).

78. Renee P.-F. v. Frank G., 79 N.Y.S.3d 45 (App. Div. 2018).

79. Joseph O. v. Danielle B., 71 N.Y.S.3d 549 (App. Div. 2018).

80. Morrissey v. United States, 871 F.3d 1260 (11th Cir. 2017).

81. In re Adoption of L.B.M., 161 A.3d 172, 180 (Pa. 2017).

82. In re Adoption of T.M.L.M., 184 A.3d 585 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2018). See also In re Adoption of M.D.Q., 192 A.3d 1201 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2018).

83. In re K.J.H., 180 A.3d 411 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2018).

84. In re J’K.M., 191 A.3d 907 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2018).

85. In re Formal Advisory Op. No. 16-2, 812 S.E.2d 484 (Ga. 2017).

86. Farris v. McKaig, 920 N.W.2d 377 (Mich. Ct. App. 2018).

87. Runyon v. Zacharias, 556 S.W.3d 732 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2018).

88. Nichols v. Fahrenkamp, 113 N.E.3d 1183 (Ill. App. Ct. 2018).

89. In re Child A., 81 N.Y.S.3d 199 (App. Div. 2018).

90. In re M.T., 179 A.3d 754 (Vt. 2017).

91. In re Z.D., 806 S.E.2d 814 (W. Va. 2017). See also In re J.K.M., 553 S.W.3d 703 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2018) (finding that an attorney could not be both the guardian ad litem and the child’s attorney).

92. In re Mann, 69 N.Y.S.3d 430 (App. Div. 2018).

93. L.G. v. S.L., 88 N.E.3d 1069 (Ind. 2018).

94. In re Nadeau, 178 A.3d 495 (Me. 2018).

95. In re Hill, 809 S.E. 793 (Ga. 2018).

96. In re Robinson, 817 S.E.2d 288 (S.C. 2018).

97. In re Discipline of Beguelin, 417 P.3d 1118 (Nev. 2018).

98. In re Thomas, 69 N.Y.S.3d 316 (App. Div. 2018).

99. In re Disciplinary Proceedings Against Marchan, 910 N.W.2d 531 (Wis. 2018).

100. In re Marriage of LaRocque, 107 N.E.3d 349 (Ill. Ct. App. 2018).

101. In re Ward, 227 So. 3d 251 (La. 2017).

102. Lawyer Disciplinary Bd. v. Campbell, 807 S.E.2d 817 (W. Va. 2017).

103. Disciplinary Counsel v. Benbow, 106 N.E.3d 57 (Ohio 2018).

104. Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Toman, No. 113 DB 2017, 2018 BL 166537 (Pa. May 9, 2018).

105. Walker v. Kramer, 79 N.Y.S.3d 203 (App. Div. 2018).

106. In re Tyrel L., 172 A.3d 916 (Me. 2017).

107. Sachs v. Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC, 179 A.3d 182 (Vt. 2017).

108. Walker, 79 N.Y.S.3d 203.

109. In re Emma B., 169 A.3d 945 (Me. 2017).

110. In re S.L., 421 P.3d 1207 (Colo. Ct. App. 2017).

111. In re Egypt E., 175 A.3d 21 (Conn. 2018).

112. In re Richard M., 172 A.3d 914 (Me. 2017) (mental issues, drug abuse); In re I.M., 41 P.3d 797 (Mont. 2018) (analyzing failure to comply with treatment plans); In re M.F., 241 So. 3d 316 (La. Ct. App. 2017) (noting father visited only once after children placed in foster care); In re A.A.S., 812 S.E.2d 875 (N.C. Ct. App. 2018) (concerning neglect).

113. In re L.M.B., 398 P.3d 207 (Kan. Ct. App. 2017).

114. N.J. Div. Child Protection & Perm. v. C.J.R., 175 A.3d 200 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2017).

115. Christian J.C.U. v. Jorge R.C., 77 N.Y.S.3d 834 (Fam. Ct. 2018).

116. See Ferris v. Winn, 242 So. 3d 509 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018) (finding that e-mail notice less than nineteen hours before hearing an emergency motion to suspend timesharing agreement violated a father’s procedural due process rights); Haywood v. Bacon, 248 So. 3d 1254 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018).

117. Campbell v. Thompson, 906 N.W.2d 86 (N.D. 2018).

118. Officer v. Blankenship, 555 S.W.3d 449 (Ky. Ct. App. 2018).

119. In re A.G.D., 810 S.E.2d 416 (N.C. Ct. App. 2018). See also Hagans v. Hagans, No. M2017-00174-COAR3CV, 2018 WL 1640373, at *1 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 5, 2018) (finding that Tennessee cannot decide custody when home state is Scotland); Ramamoorthi v. Ramamoorthi, 918 N.W.2d 191 (Mich. Ct. App. 2018) (finding that Michigan lacked jurisdiction to determine the custody of children when their home state was India).

120. Cook v. Arimitsu, 907 N.W.2d 23 (Minn. Ct. App. 2018).

121. In re Marriage of Schwartz & Battini, 410 P.3d 319 (Or. Ct. App. 2017).

122. In re Parenting of B.K., 425 P.3d 703 (Mont. 2018).

123. In re Marriage of Milne, 109 N.E.3d 911 (Ill. App. Ct. 2018).

124. Dep’t Hum. Servs. v. T.F., 425 P.3d 480 (Or. Ct. App. 2018).

125. In re Aiden L., 224 Cal. Rptr. 3d 400 (Ct. App. 2017).

126. In re C.L.T., 405 P.3d 510 (Colo. Ct. App. 2017).

127. In re Marriage of Long & Borrello, 421 P.3d 989 (Wash. Ct. App. 2018).

128. Pierce v. State, 172 A.3d 190 (Vt. 2017).

129. Hipps v. Cabrera, 170 A.3d 199 (D.C. Ct. App. 2017). See also In re Paternity of J.G.L., 107 N.E.3d 1086 (Ind. Ct. App. 2018) (reversing lower-court decision because it failed to consider any of the factors enumerated in Section 207 of the UCCJEA when deciding a forum non conveniens case).

130. In re T.R., 792 S.E.2d 197 (N.C. Ct. App. 2016).

131. In re Eladd LL., 65 N.Y.S.3d 284 (App. Div. 2017).

132. Gorelik v. Gorelik, 815 S.E.2d 330 (Ga. Ct. App. 2018).

133. J.C. v. K.S., 179 A.3d 1124 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2018).

134. Fitzpatrick v. McCrary, 182 A.3d 737 (Me. 2018). Other states have found due process violations when courts, after communication with courts in another state, make decisions without either allowing the parties the right to participate in the communication or the right to examine the record of the conversation in order to make arguments.

135. Korisa DD v. Michelle EE, 67 N.Y.S.3d 700 (App. Div. 2017).

136. S.D. v. K.H., 98 N.E.3d 375 (Ohio Ct. App. 2018).

137. Duran v. Mercado, 64 N.Y.S.3d 90 (App. Div. 2017).

138. Ohio ex rel. Garrett v. Costine, 100 N.E.3d 368 (Ohio 2018). See also Fitzpatrick, 182 A.3d 737 (finding that Maine had exclusive continuing jurisdiction over mother’s motion to modify parental rights despite “interim order” issued by Pennsylvania court because mother continued to reside in Maine).

139. V.C. v. L.P., 179 A.3d 95 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2018).

140. Coulibaly v. Stevance, 85 N.E.3d 911 (Ind. Ct. App. 2017) (custody in parent who obtained divorce but based on best interests of children).

141. Robles v. Gonzalez, 246 So. 3d 945 (Miss. Ct. App. 2018).

142. Johnson v. Clofer, 251 So. 3d 597 (La. Ct. App. 2018).

143. Nance v. Ferraro, 418 P.3d 679 (Nev. Ct. App. 2018).

144. In re Marriage of Black, 392 P.3d 1041 (Wash. 2017).

145. Gammon v. Gammon, 529 S.W.3d 350 (Mo. Ct. App. 2017).

146. Turrubiartes v. Olvera, 539 S.W.3d 524 (Tex. App. 2018).

147. Abid v. Abid, 406 P.3d 476 (Nev. 2017).

148. Michael E. Lamb, Critical Analysis of Research on Parenting Plans and Children’s Well-Being, in Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied Research for the Family Court 170, 192 (Leslie Drozd, Michael Saini & Nancy Olesen eds., 2d ed. 2016) (finding that when parents manifest long-standing conflicts without a history of successful cooperation, children are unlikely to benefit from shared parenting).

149. Bruegman v. Bruegman, 417 P.3d 157 (Wyo. 2018).

150. Lane v. Lane, 254 So. 3d 570 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018).

151. Vanderzon v. Vanderzon, 402 P.3d 219 (Utah Ct. App. 2017).

152. In re Perry v. LeBlanc, 72 N.Y.S.3d 616 (App. Div. 2018).

153. Bautista v. Picone, 419 P.3d 157 (Nev. 2018) (finding that the lower court improperly delegated decision-making authority by allowing parenting coordinator to make substantive changes to custody plan).

154. In re R.J.N., 403 P.3d 675 (Mont. 2017) (concerning a mother who wanted to move her children to California).

155. Woods v. Woods, 422 P.3d 1110 (Idaho 2018).

156. Jones v. Ahmad, 818 S.E.2d 263 (Ga. Ct. App. 2018).

157. Bonk v. Bonk, 183 A.3d 600 (Vt. 2018). See also In re Marriage of Schilling, 414 P.3d 775 (Mont. 2018) (finding that a father’s relocation to a different city, 300 miles away, constituted a substantial change of circumstances).

158. Boatman v. Boatman, 404 P.3d 822 (Okla. 2017).

159. Miller v. Miller, 88 N.E.3d 843 (Mass. Sup. Jud. Ct. 2018).

160. Bisbing v. Bisbing, 166 A.3d 1155 (N.J. 2017).

161. Judd v. Burns, 397 P.3d 331 (Alaska 2017).

162. Buschor v. Buschor, 252 So. 3d 833 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018).

163. Ness v. Martinez, 249 So. 3d 754 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018).

164. Ainsworth v. Ainsworth, 186 A.3d 1074 (R.I. 2018).

165. Weathers v. Weathers, 425 P.3d 131 (Alaska 2018).

166. Schaffner v. Schaffner, 898 N.W.2d 428 (N.D. 2017).

167. Patnode v. Urette, 179 A.3d 1242 (Vt. 2017).

168. Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000).

169. Heiden v. Norris, 912 N.W.2d 758 (Neb. 2018).

170. Brown v. Lunsford, 63 N.E.3d 1057 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016).

171. In re N.M.V., 385 P.3d 564 (Mont. 2016).

172. Paese v. Paese, 41 N.Y.S.3d 245 (App. Div. 2016).

173. Windham v. Griffin, 887 N.W.2d 710 (Neb. 2017).

174. In re F.E.N., 542 S.W.3d 752 (Tex. App. 2018).

175. Cal. Fam. Code § 3041 (West 2018).

176. Morris v. Morris, 255 So. 3d 908 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018).

177. Dawn M. v. Michael M., 47 N.Y.S.3d 898 (Misc. 2017).

178. Fuller v. Baldino, 168 A.3d 665 (Conn. App. Ct. 2017).

179. In re Ben, 206 So. 3d 438 (La. Ct. App. 2016).

180. Coleman v. Olson, 551 S.W.3d 686 (Tenn. 2018).

181. Smith v. Martin, 222 So. 3d 255 (Miss. 2017).

182. Lamkin v. Lamkin, 186 A.3d 1276 (Me. 2018).

183. In re Marriage of Friedman & Roels, 418 P.3d 884 (Ariz. 2018).

184. In re G.R.-Z., 99 N.E.3d 1067 (Ohio App. Ct. 2017).

185. Schmitt v. Troche, 64 N.Y.S.3d 91 (App. Div. 2017).

186. Hawkins v. Grese, 809 S.E.2d 441 (Va. Ct. App. 2018).

187. C.G. v. J.H., 193 A.3d 891 (Pa. 2018).

188. A.J.B. v. A.G.B., 180 A.3d 1263 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2018).

189. Strickland v. Day, 239 So. 3d 486 (Miss. 2018).

190. In re Marriage of Macilwaine, 237 Cal. Rptr. 3d 156 (Ct. App. 2018).

191. Conway v. Gartmond, 41 N.Y.S.3d 90 (App. Div. 2016).

192. Hanrahan v. Bakker, 186 A.3d 958 (Pa. 2018).

193. Sullivan v. George, 191 A.3d 1168 (Me. 2018).

194. Barlow v. Barlow, 224 So. 3d 868 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2017).

195. In re Marriage of Gromicko, 387 P.3d 58 (Colo. 2017).

196. Wyman v. Whitson, 421 P.3d 99 (Alaska 2018).

197. McKinney v. Hamp, 268 So. 3d 470 (Miss. 2018).

198. Rosas v. Lopez, 556 S.W.3d 620 (Mo. Ct. App. 2018).

199. Hackett v. Hackett, 61 N.Y.S.3d 682 (App. Div. 2017).

200. Munoz v. O’Connor-Gang, 39 N.Y.S.3d 67 (App. Div. 2017).

201. Walsh v. Walsh, 61 N.Y.S.3d 673 (App. Div. 2017).

202. Dare v. Frost, 540 S.W.3d 281 (Ark. 2018).

203. Miller v. Miller, 412 P.3d 1081 (Nev. 2018).

204. Sigler v. Sigler, 905 N.W.2d 308 (S.D. 2017).

205. Mitchell v. Krieckhaus, 158 A.3d 951 (Me. 2017).

206. Clark v. Clark, 918 N.W.2d 336 (Neb. Ct. App. 2018).

207. Swanson v. Hernandez, 544 S.W.3d 315 (Mo. Ct. App. 2018).

208. Reynolds v. Evans, 72 N.Y.S.3d 722 (App. Div. 2018).

209. Lamancusa v. Dep’t of Revenue, 250 So. 3d 812 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018).

210. In re Connolly, 228 Cal. Rptr. 3d 890 (Ct. App. 2018).

211. Ferguson v. Wallace-Ferguson, 911 N.W.2d 324 (N.D. 2018).

212. In re Marriage of White, 181 A.3d 239 (N.H. 2018).

213. Calderon v. Almonte, 68 N.Y.S.3d 746 (App. Div. 2018).

214. TSR v. Dep’t of Fam. Servs., 406 P.3d 729 (Wyo. 2017).

215. Moore v. McGillis, 408 P.3d 1196 (Alaska 2018).

216. Wheeler v. Wheeler, 78 N.Y.S.3d 547 (App. Div. 2018).

217. Manfrede v. Harris, 80 N.Y.S.3d 138 (App. Div. 2018).

218. Bobblis v. Costa, 113 N.E.3d 844 (Mass. App. Ct. 2018).

219. Y.H. v. M.H., 235 Cal. Rptr. 3d 663 (Ct. App. 2018).

220. Zelenka v. Pratte, 912 N.W.2d 723 (Neb. 2018).

221. Sands v. Menard, 904 N.W.2d 789 (Wis. 2017).

222. O’Reilly-Morshead v. O’Reilly-Morshead, 83 N.Y.S.3d 379 (App. Div. 2018).

223. Maghu v. Singh, 181 A.3d 518 (Vt. 2018).

224. Albassam v. Klob, 238 So. 3d 311 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018).

225. Lecuona v. Lecuona, No. 03-17-00138-CV, 2018 WL 2994587 (Tex. App. June 15, 2018) (unpublished).

226. In re Interest of Ja.D.Y., No. 05-16-01412-CV, 2018 WL 3424359 (Tex. App. July 16, 2018) (unpublished).

227. Turfe v. Turfe, 233 Cal. Rptr. 3d 315 (Ct. App. 2018).

228. In re Estate of Brown, 818 S.E.2d 770 (S.C. Ct. App. 2018).

229. Becher v. Becher, 908 N.W.2d 12 (Neb. 2018).

230. Crocker C. v. Anne R., 58 Misc. 3d 1221(A) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2018).

231. Gerty v. Gerty, 265 So. 3d 121 (Miss. 2018).

232. E.D.B. v. D.S., No. A-4058-16T4, 2018 WL 2207358 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. May 15, 2018) (unpublished).

233. Shirley P. v. Norman P., 189 A.3d 89 (Conn. 2018).

234. Estate of Mortner v. Thompson, 182 A.3d 1260 (N.H. 2018).

235. In re Sweatt, 173 A.3d 1080 (N.H. 2017).

236. Estate of Albrecht v. Albrecht, 856 N.W.2d 755 (N.D. 2018).

237. Parocha v. Parocha, 418 P.3d 523 (Colo. 2018).

238. People v. Gray, 91 N.E.3d 876 (Ill. 2017).

239. Hogue v. Hogue, 224 Cal. Rptr. 3d 651 (Ct. App. 2017).

240. K.L.M. v. B.A.G., 532 S.W.3d 706 (Mo. Ct. App. 2017).

241. Thompson v. Schrimsher, 906 N.W.2d 495 (Minn. 2018).

242. Ivancicts v. Griffith, 90 N.E.3d 641 (Ill. App. Ct. 2017).

243. Chretien v. Chretien, 170 A.3d 260 (Me. 2017).

244. Cyran v. Cyran, 97 N.E.3d 487 (Ohio 2018).

245. Ruerup v. Ruerup, 408 P.3d 1203 (Alaska 2018).

246. Smith v. Smith, 224 So. 3d 740 (Fla. 2017).

247. Levick v. MacDougall, 805 S.E.2d 775 (Va. 2017).

248. Chaney v. Netterstrom, 229 Cal. Rptr. 3d 860 (Ct. App. 2018).

249. Marshall v. Marshall, 559 S.W.3d 381 (Ky. Ct. App. 2018).

250. Luis v. Gaugler, 185 A.3d 497 (R.I. 2018).

251. Porter v. Porter, 817 S.E.2d 339 (Va. Ct. App. 2018).

252. Hogsett v. Neale, No. 17CA1484, 2018 Colo. App. LEXIS 1820 (Colo. App. Dec. 13, 2018).

253. Fowlkes v. Fowlkes, No. W201800050COAR3CV, 2018 WL 3956581 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 16, 2018).

254. Melbourne v. Taylor, 147 A.3d 1151 (D.C. Ct. App. 2016).

255. Petit v. Adrianzen, 392 P.3d 630 (Nev. 2017).

256. In re Name Change of Benitez, 250 So. 3d 153 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018).

257. In re Leyna A., No. M201602548COAR3JV, 2017 WL 4083644 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 15, 2017).

258. In re Marriage of Dee J. & Ashlie J., 103 N.E.3d 627 (Ill. App. Ct. 2018) (defendant wife was legally the parent of the child conceived of artificial insemination during relationship); Christopher YY. v. Jessica ZZ., 69 N.Y.S.3d 887 (App. Div. 2018) (paternity petition launched by the male sperm donor must fail). See also In re Maria-Irene D. (Carlos A. v. Han Ming T.), 61 N.Y.S.3d 221 (App. Div. 2017).

259. McLaughlin v. Jones in & for Cty. of Pima, 401 P.3d 492 (Ariz. 2017).

260. Sheardown v. Guastella, 920 N.W.2d 172 (Mich. Ct. App. 2018) (former same-sex partner who was not married to mother and who had not adopted was denied standing). See also Doe v. Doe, 395 P.3d 1287 (Idaho 2017) (finding former same-sex partner lacked standing to seek parentage, custody, and visitation with child conceived during relationship).

261. A.F. v. K.F., 57 N.Y.S.3d 352 (Misc. 2017).

262. Simmonds v. Perkins, 247 So. 3d 397 (Fla. 2018). See also Michael S. v. Sultana R., 82 N.Y.S.3d 364 (App. Div. 2018) (finding a putative biological father had standing to challenge mother’s husband’s acknowledgment of paternity).

263. Penticuff v. Miller, 503 S.W.3d 198 (Ky. Ct. App. 2016).

264. Marshall P. v. Latifah H., 61 N.Y.S.3d 355 (App. Div. 2017).

265. Ashburn v. Rogers, 803 S.E.2d 469 (S.C. 2017).

266. Kansas ex rel. Sec’y Dep’t Children & Fam. v. Smith, 392 P.3d 68 (Kan. 2017).

267. Erin W. v. Charissa W., 897 N.W.2d 858 (Neb. 2017).

268. W.S. v. S.T., 228 Cal. Rptr. 3d 756 (Ct. App. 2018).

269. Tran v. Bennett, 411 P.3d 345 (N.M. 2018).

270. Grasch v. Grasch, 536 S.W.3d 191 (Ky. 2017).

271. Green v. Green, 806 S.E.2d 45 (N.C. Ct. App. 2017).

272. Miller v. Brown, 83 N.E.3d 1252 (Ind. Ct. App. 2017). On the same topic, see Berens v. Beens, 818 S.E.2d 155 (N.C. Ct. App. 2018) (finding a 529 account established for the children’s education was marital property and not gifts to the children).

273. Kessler v. Kessler, 411 P.3d 616 (Alaska 2018).

274. Osdoba v. Kelley-Osdoba, 913 N.W.2d 496 (S.D. 2018) (parties had lived together before marriage and chose to forgo paying debt so wife’s income could go to other endeavors, which allowed more savings, investments); Grove v. Grove, 400 P.3d 109 (Alaska 2017) (classification of $50,000 of student loan debt as marital where loans paid for tuition, housing, and living expenses); Schaeffer-Mathis v. Mathis, 407 P.3d 485 (Alaska 2017) (student loans obtained by a woman during her marriage should have been classified as marital debt).

275. Osdoba, 913 N.W.2d 496.

276. Sturms v. Sturms, 226 So. 3d 1004 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2017).

277. Normandin v. Normandin, No. 2016-CA-000392-MR, 2018 WL 2450534 (Ky. Ct. App. June 1, 2018) (unpublished).

278. Schultz v. Schultz, 184 A.3d 168 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2018).

279. Marshall v. Marshall, 902 N.W.2d 223 (Neb. 2017).

280. Buck v. Buck, 2018 WL 4381559 (Ohio Ct. App. Sept. 14, 2018).

281. Wu-Carter v. Carter, 179 A.3d 711 (R.I. 2018).

282. Thieme v. Aucoin-Thieme, 151 A.3d 545 (N.J. 2016).

283. Primerica Life Ins. Co. v. Purselley, No. 3:16-CV-0455-D, 2017 WL 3780274 (N.D. Tex. Aug. 31, 2017) (unpublished).

284. Maldonado v. Maldonado, 556 S.W.3d 407 (Tex. App. 2018).

285. Hall v. Hall, 426 P.3d 1006 (Alaska 2018).

286. Brennan v. Brennan, 425 P.3d 99 (Alaska 2018).

287. Okoye v. Okoye, 2018 WL 357516 (Ohio App. Ct. Jan. 10, 2018).

288. Osantowski v. Osantowski, 904 N.W.2d 251 (Neb. 2017).

289. Rufsholm v. Rufsholm, No. M201602404COAR3CV, 2018 WL 4181476 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 30, 2018).

290. Brown v. Odom, 823 S.E.2d 183 (S.C. Ct. App. 2019).

291. Flesch v. Flesch, 804 S.E.2d 67 (Ga. 2017).

292. In re Tozer, 410 P.3d 835 (Colo. Ct. App. 2017) (citing Howell v. Howell, 137 S. Ct. 1400 (2017)).

293. Gross v. Wilson, 424 P.3d 390 (Alaska 2018).

294. Lockamy v. Lockamy, 805 S.E.2d 5 (Ga. 2017).

295. In re Marriage of Williams, 417 P.3d 1033 (Kan. 2018).

296. Richarz v. Richarz, 904 N.W.2d 76 (S.D. 2017).

297. Stocker v. Stocker, No. 5-17-11, 2017 WL 5127734 (Ohio App. Nov. 6, 2018).

298. Wiegers v. Richards-Wiegers, 410 P.3d 1180 (Alaska 2018).

299. In re Marriage of Broesder, 402 P.3d 1193 (Mont. 2017). See also Rodigue v. Rodigue, 270 So. 3d 933 (Miss. Ct. App. 2018) (finding that the trial court erred when it failed to account for the tax consequences of the property division).

300. Buchanan v. Buchanan, 225 So. 3d 1002 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2017).

301. Merk-Gould v. Gould, 195 A.3d 458 (Conn. Ct. App. 2018).

302. Brew v. Brew, 903 N.W.2d 72 (N.D. 2017).

303. Richarz v. Richarz, 904 N.W.2d 76 (S.D. 2017).

304. Harper v. Harper, 169 A.3d 385 (Me. 2017).

305. In re Marriage of Kamgar, 226 Cal. Rptr. 3d 234 (Ct. App. 2017).

306. Dyer v. Dyer, No. 03-16-00753-CV, 2018 WL 2994439 (Tex. App. June 15, 2018) (unpublished).

307. Linda G. v. James G., 64 N.Y.S.3d 17 (App. Div. 2017) (crediting wife fifty percent of marital funds expended on SEC investigation and criminal proceeding).

308. Greenberg v. Greenberg, 81 N.Y.S.3d 58 (App. Div. 2018).

309. Bradshaw v. Bradshaw, 555 S.W.3d 539 (Tex. 2018).

310. Ward v. Hahn, 400 P.3d 669 (Kan. Ct. App. 2017).

311. Long v. Long, 413 P.3d 117 (Wyo. 2018).

312. Acton v. Acton, 406 P.3d 1279 (Wyo. 2017).

313. Holmes-Bracy v. Bracy, 808 S.E.2d 669 (Ga. 2017).

314. Cunningham v. Cunningham, 182 A.3d 464 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2018) (finding husband able to make payments due under postnuptial agreement).

315. Pearson v. Pearson, 552 S.W.3d 511 (Ky. Ct. App. 2018).

316. Malecek v. Williams, 804 S.E.2d 592 (N.C. Ct. App. 2017). See also Ammarell v. France, No. 316-CV-00708RJCDSC, 2018 WL 2843441 (W.D.N.C. June 11, 2018).

317. Mandelbaum v. Arseneault, No. A-1042-15T4, 2017 WL 4287837 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Sept. 28, 2017) (unpublished).

318. Gordo-Gonzalez v. United States, 873 F.3d 32 (1st Cir. 2017).

319. Achi v. TIA Transp., Inc., No. 16-CV-11632, 2017 WL 5890875 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 29, 2017).

320. Doherty v. Merck & Co., 892 F.3d 493 (1st Cir. 2018).

321. Wheeler v. City of Santa Clara, 894 F.3d 1046 (9th Cir. 2018).

322. In re Fields, 819 S.E.2d 160 (S.C. Ct. App. 2018).

323. Moreland v. Parks, 191 A.3d 729 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2018).

324. Gohranson v. Snohomish Cty., No. C16-1124RSL, 2018 WL 2933352 (W.D. Wash. June 12, 2018).

325. Mower v. Baird, 422 P.3d 837 (Utah 2018).

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.

Linda D. Elrod & Robert G. Spector

Linda D. Elrod is the Richard S. Righter Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of Children and Family Law Center at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas. She is Editor Emeritus of Family Law Quarterly; she was Editor in Chief from 1992–2016. 

Robert G. Spector is the Glenn R. Watson Chair and Centennial Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Oklahoma College of Law in Norman, Oklahoma, and is a member of the Family Law Quarterly Editorial Board.