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September 02, 2020 Feature

Review of the Year 2018–2019 in Family Law: Jurisdiction and Choice of Law Issues Abound

Linda D. Elrod & Robert G. Spector


Family law cases continued to explode in numbers across the country as the 2018–2019 reporting year saw a wide variety of issues. As families crossed state or country boundaries, many cases required determinations of which state’s law applied to the dispute. Other cases involved federal law or use of constitutional principles. Appellate courts usually upheld trial judges who reviewed the validity of marriage contracts and separation agreements, awarded custody and support of children, determined who was a parent, and decided what constituted marital property. A large number of cases this year explored jurisdictional questions, especially those raised by interpretation of uniform laws such as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

I. Federal

The U.S. Supreme Court heard one case under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Supreme Court agreed to hear a Louisiana abortion case in 2020 requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital no farther than thirty miles from the women’s clinic.1 Although the Court heard a case with similar facts a couple of years ago,2 the addition of two conservative justices may alter the interpretation of undue burden. Lower federal courts heard several Hague Abduction Convention cases, a major case regarding the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), as well as the usual assortment of tax, pension, and bankruptcy issues.

The U.S. Supreme Court in early 2018 had found that Minnesota’s law for automatic revocation of provisions for a spouse upon divorce did not substantially impair a pre-existing contractual arrangement. The children, rather than the former spouse, were the beneficiaries of the father’s life insurance even though he failed to change the beneficiary designation.3 That case resulted in several states enacting statutes clarifying revocation on divorce of provisions listing a former spouse as beneficary.

A panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a 2018 district court decision that found the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) unconstitutional. The panel found that ICWA does not amount to race-based discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause, does not violate the Tenth Amendment’s anti-commandeering doctrine, and does not violate the nondelegation doctrine of Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The court noted that the ICWA definition of “Indian child” is a political classification subject to rational basis review. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) had authority to promulgate its comprehensive 2016 ICWA regulations.4 The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted review to hear the case en banc in 2020.

Victims of domestic violence are still fighting an uphill battle to get any relief from federal courts. The Fifth Circuit followed the pattern of prior cases that have found no cause of action when police fail to enforce a protection order.5 When her ex-husband broke into her home, Deanna Cook, who had a protection order, called 911 screaming for help for seventeen minutes. The police took over an hour to arrive. They left when no one answered the knock at the door. The family found Deanna’s body two days later. The Fifth Circuit court found no basis for any constitutional violation.6

A. Hague Conventions

To date, the United States is a party to three family law conventions: the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), the Hague Convention on Cooperation with Respect of Intercountry Adoption, and the Hague Convention on the International Enforcement of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. The Family Law Quarterly is now including a separate article that comprehensively covers Hague Convention cases. This article highlights only a few of the major cases. The U.S. Supreme Court heard its fourth major Hague Convention case. The married American mother and Italian father lived in Italy before she brought the then two-month-old infant to the United States. On the father’s petition, the district court found the child’s habitual residence was Italy and ordered return to the father. The Sixth Circuit Court affirmed.7 The Supreme Court affirmed the court’s determination that habitual residence should be reviewed under a clear-error review. The Court also found that when the child is an infant or too young to acclimate to her surroundings, there is no need for a subjective agreement between the infant’s parents to establish her habitual residence.8 In another case heading to the Supreme Court, the father petitioner, who resides in Paris, filed for return of his four-year-old who was retained in Washington, D.C., where the family had lived temporarily for the mother’s job. The lower court held that a wrongful retention occurred when the mother filed for full custody in May 2019 and granted the father’s petition for return.9

The majority of circuit courts define the child’s habitual residence by looking to the parents’ shared intent. The Tenth Circuit upheld a case finding that Australia was not the children’s “habitual residence” where the parties intended to stay there for a limited time to obtain specialized medical care for one child. The parents kept their home in the United States, left many sentimental possessions, and maintained U.S. financial ties, including the father’s business and bank accounts.10 In a New York case, the parties’ decision to move to the United States was conditioned on the family living together. Because the mother took the child without permission to the other side of the country, there was no mutual agreement to change the habitual residence from Israel to the United States.11 Although some courts look to see if the child has become acclimatized from the child’s point of view, when the child is very young, the shared parental intent test may be used.12

In a case involving a defense, the Second Circuit court upheld the district court’s finding that the child’s habitual residence was Italy but found the undertakings insufficient to ameliorate the grave risk of harm to the child if he were to be repatriated to Italy. Thus, a remand was warranted to consider ameliorative measures that were either enforceable by the district court or, if not directly enforceable, supported by other sufficient guarantees of performance.13

B. Federal Pensions

The Fifth Circuit held that an ex-wife timely obtained a QDRO, awarding her funds in her ex-husband’s 401(k) account. The court also held the QDRO can be effective even if it post-dates the death of the participant.14

Pension cases sometimes involve actions in state courts. A husband attempted to enter a QDRO to transfer a portion of funds in his ERISA retirement plan to his wife’s individual retirement account (IRA). The anti-alienation provision of ERISA prevented such a transfer where there was no current, foreseeable, or desired divorce or domestic relations matter of any kind. The parties stated that they wished plan benefits to remain marital property.15 A former wife was equitably entitled to payment of back benefits from her former husband’s railroad retirement payments even though she failed to file the proper paperwork until two years after he retired. The court found she had fulfilled her duty by filing a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) and asking when the former husband planned to retire. He failed to inform her of his retirement.16

C. Tax

Alimony ordered before January 2019 still retains its deductibility to the payor. A court ordered a payor to pay $250,000 of arrearages to his ex-wife, of which $225,000 was for alimony. The IRS claimed that the lump sum was a nondeductible money judgment. The Tax Court reversed and affirmed that lump-sum payments of family law arrearages maintain their character as alimony or child support. Even though New York Family Law allows a court to issue a money judgment in family court cases, the order in the case was determined to be a contempt order and the payment was considered alimony for federal tax purposes.17

II. State Cases

A. Adoption

The Uniform Law Commission in 2018 appointed a committee to draft a law on the Unregulated Transfer of Adopted Children Act. The committee is working on providing some regulation when families give their adopted child to another person outside of the court or child welfare system. The committee expanded its scope to include all children, not just those who have been adopted.

1. Consents

Appellate adoption cases in recent years often deal with whether the proper consents are given. A biological mother’s consent was needed for the stepmother to adopt the adult, incapacitated child, so she was entitled to notice of the petition for adoption.18

Many cases involve an unwed or putative father. Where the putative father substantially complied with registration requirements of the Alabama Putative Father Registry Act, the probate court had jurisdiction to determine that he was the biological father, change the child’s name, issue a new birth certificate, and vacate a final judgment of adoption because of the mother’s fraud.19 When a mother testified she did not know she was pregnant until she went to the hospital to deliver, the Kansas court found that the unwed father did enough to assume the responsibilities of parenthood by filing a paternity and custody action within a week of finding out about the birth.20

A father’s status as a youth during part of a mother’s pregnancy did not absolve him of the obligation to support the mother during the pregnancy. His failure to support meant that his consent to adoption was not needed.21 The putative father of a child conceived and born while the mother was married to another man was not required to consent to adoption of the child.22 A father’s consent to adoption was not needed where he failed to support his children after they were placed in foster care.23 Clear and convincing evidence showed that a biological father failed to communicate with the child for a year. His consent was not required for the stepparent adoption.24

2. Who Can Adopt

In an unusual adult adoption case, the petitioners, who operated a care home, sought to adopt a 64-year-old woman with profound intellectual disability and limited verbal ability who was a resident. The court found the woman’s consent was not necessary, adoption was in her best interest as she had lived with the petitioners who had cared for her for twelve years, and she would still be eligible for services.25

New Hampshire found that its adoption statute did not allow joint adoption by the unmarried parent of the child and an unrelated, unmarried adult.26 In another case, the Kentucky court found that great-grandparents were not authorized to file petition for involuntary termination of a father’s parental rights, and failure to strictly comply with adoption statutes rendered the judgment invalid.27 Former foster parents’ failure to attach appropriate consents and relinquishments did not deprive the district court of subject matter jurisdiction. Failure to meet the statutory requirement that child reside in their home at the time of the petition, however, did preclude the adoption. Failure to provide required medical report warranted dismissal of petition.28

3. Interstate Issues

Interstate issues often arise. A Colorado father, who signed a form consenting to the adoption of his children by their mother’s husband in Pennsylvania, attempted to revoke it on the basis that it did not comply with Colorado law. Pennsylvania law applied to the determination of the validity of the consent.29 An alleged defect in the form required by the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC), which listed purported father as the child’s father, did not violate the mother’s husband’s rights in adoption proceeding.30

B. Agreements

1. Premarital Agreements

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia appear to use the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. Only two states, Colorado and North Dakota, have enacted the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act. The trend has been to uphold premarital agreements as long as they are entered into voluntarily and the parties are aware of each other’s finances. States differ on whether advice of counsel is required and on some procedural requirements. In Minnesota, a premarital agreement must be signed by two witnesses to be valid.31

Florida had an interesting case finding duress where the husband initially presented his pregnant wife with the agreement six days before the wedding in Venezuela but failed to produce evidence regarding his holdings and net worth as his wife requested. On the day before the wedding, he demanded execution, or no wedding. This would have kept them from getting the emigration papers to attain their shared, long-term plan to begin life anew with their children in the United States.32

Delaware concluded that a spouse contesting enforcement of a voluntarily executed agreement must prove that the agreement is unconscionable and prove three other grounds: lack of fair and reasonable disclosure of the other spouse’s property or financial obligations, nonwaiver, and lack of adequate knowledge of the other spouse’s property and financial obligations.33 In upholding a premarital agreement, the Illinois court found that a husband’s financial disclosures met the statutory requirement of “fair and reasonable disclosure” of his property or financial obligations by providing a general approximation of his income, assets, and liabilities. Whether a disclosure is fair and reasonable depends on the facts, including the information that was and was not disclosed, and the relative size of the undisclosed information in relation to the parties’ financial circumstances.34

A premarital agreement was enforceable in divorce where the husband had requested the agreement and each party had counsel. The husband’s counsel indicated that he believed the husband understood the agreement, which outlined assets and debts of the parties, and neither presented evidence contesting the list of assets or debts. There was also no evidence that the terms of the agreement promoted or encouraged divorce.35

Sometimes the agreement is entered in one state, but the parties divorce in another. A Tennessee court determined a premarital agreement that was entered into in New Mexico is governed by the law of that state. Therefore, the waiver of alimony was illegal and the Tennessee court should not enforce the waiver provision.36 Montana upheld a premarital agreement with a choice of law clause directing that the law of Nevada should apply.37

An interesting case involved a premarital agreement and creditors. California determined that a premarital agreement may violate the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act when it relinquishes one spouse’s community property interest during marriage for the purposes of frustrating a judgment creditor.38

2. Settlement Agreements

Montana held that courts may modify decrees with settlement agreements despite a nonmodification clause if the agreement is unconscionable.39 An ex-husband’s suicide within two years of purchasing life insurance policies he was required by marital settlement agreement to maintain constituted a breach of the agreement because the policies barred recovery of benefits if the insured were to commit suicide within two years of purchase. As a remedy, the trial court ordered the remaining assets paid to the children.40

In Texas, the lack of a pending divorce at the time the parties signed a mediated settlement agreement (MSA) did not preclude the agreement being valid. An MSA is binding if it satisfies three statutory requirements: prominent statement of irrevocability, signatures of the parties, and signatures of the attorneys (if any) present when the MSA was signed. The trial court is not required to determine if the agreed property division is “just and right” nor conduct an independent, best-interest inquiry before approving the MSA that satisfies statutory requirements. The wife, however, was entitled to notice and opportunity to contest the MSA prior to judgment.41

C. Alimony

1. The Original Award

States differ on the basis for alimony and the factors to use, with need and ability to pay being the most prominent. A couple of states still look at marital fault. In North Carolina, fault is a factor in determining whether alimony should be received and whether it should be paid. Therefore, the husband’s post separation conduct with another woman was properly used to determine whether he should pay alimony.42 Utah found that a spouse’s participation in an extramarital affair “substantially contributed” to the breakup of the marriage, and thus may be considered in an alimony determination. The conduct need not be the sole, or even the most important, cause for it to substantially contribute to the divorce.43

Normally alimony is based on the relative differences in the spouses’ incomes.44 In Utah, when the wife refused to produce any evidence concerning her income, the trial court properly refused to allow her to rebut any of the husband’s evidence concerning her income as a discovery sanction.45 In Texas, there is a rebuttable presumption that spousal maintenance is not warranted unless the party has exercised diligence in earning sufficient income to provide for her minimum reasonable needs, or in developing the necessary skills to provide for her minimum needs while the parties were separated. A trial court abuses its discretion when it awards alimony where the wife has not met her burden under the statute.46

In determining whether one spouse can pay alimony, a court may consider the amount of money the obligor is spending on a new spouse because the obligations to support the first spouse take precedence over any obligation to support a second spouse and their children.47 While income can be imputed to an alimony recipient, the trial court may consider that a wife lost her job because of the husband’s actions in filing false criminal complaints against her. The wife may not be able to obtain employment in the future at the same salary she earned in the past.48 South Carolina emphasized that in awarding alimony, the court should consider the effect of investment income on both parties.49 New Hampshire noted that retirement payments to be distributed in the future are a division of marital property and therefore cannot be used as income for the determination of alimony.50 The trial court erred in not considering mandatory deductions in determining the amount of the alimony obligor’s income.51

In determining the length of the marriage for alimony purposes, Massachusetts allows the court to consider whether the parties had an economic partnership prior to the marriage. The fact that the wife received alimony from a previous spouse does not prevent an economic partnership from existing.52 In Virginia, the court may make an award for alimony and equitable distribution. There is no separate award called “restitution alimony.”53

In New Hampshire, a party may seek alimony for the first time after divorce so long as the petition is filed within five years of the divorce.54 New Jersey determined that a mutual alimony waiver incorporated into a divorce judgment did not bar consideration of a post-judgment alimony award for a former wife as compensation for loss of her share of equitable distribution of her former husband’s military pension.55 A Kansas court found that while the court could not divide military disability benefits, the court could consider the financial effect of the disability pay when ordering spousal support.56

2. Modification/Termination

In California, if the party fails to check the box on the form that alimony will terminate upon death or remarriage, then alimony continues for the full term agreed upon.57 Florida held that a downward modification of alimony should be made retroactive to the date of the event that caused the modification motion.58

a. Separation Agreement Provisions

In Georgia, the parties can waive the right to modify alimony in the settlement agreement.59 If the parties’ agreement provides that alimony will terminate upon remarriage or at age sixty-two, then alimony cannot be terminated for reasons not mentioned, such as cohabitation.60 A Florida court found that the language of the stipulated divorce decree that provided that “payments shall commence immediately and continue in effect each month thereafter for the remainder of Plaintiff’s life” precluded modification of the alimony when the wife remarried.61 Illinois applied the same rule to an increase in alimony.62

In New York, a divorced husband’s obligation to pay maintenance to his ex-wife terminated upon her remarriage, even though their divorce settlement agreement did not include a clause terminating maintenance upon the wife’s remarriage. The court found that the agreement did not override the statutory definition of maintenance as payments, so payments were not required following ex-wife’s remarriage.63

b. Changed Circumstances

Vermont clarified that the standard for reducing alimony due to changed circumstances is whether subsequent developments depart substantially from the assumptions considered in the maintenance order.64 A California court determined that a decrease in the wife’s income was a sufficient change of circumstances to modify her alimony obligations. In setting the new amount, however, the court failed to consider the parties’ reasonable expectations when they entered into their settlement agreement.65

In Minnesota, when determining the amount of a modified award of permanent spousal maintenance, the district court must reconsider the factors relevant to the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. The district court may attribute income to the recipient based on the recipient’s then-present ability to meet his or her needs independently.66 Trial court acted within its discretion in including the former husband’s gains from exercise of stock options as part of his gross income for purposes of calculating alimony payments where evidence indicated that the former husband’s gains from exercise of stock options were a regular source of income.67

Missouri noted that when the future payments from the marital portion of a pension plan have been awarded to one of the parties in the calculation of the division of property, the future payments are then a part of that party’s marital estate and should not be used in a modification to reduce maintenance on a dollar-for-dollar basis because to do so would constitute an amendment of the property division. This would effectively force one party to consume an asset from the division of property in order to pay or receive maintenance, as the value of those future payments was taken into account in the division of the marital property.68

The Maine appellate court found that a trial court’s determination that a former wife’s annual gross income was $76,000 per year was not clearly erroneous. She testified that her income in the prior several years was between $32,483 and $47,713, but a forensic accountant estimated her annual income likely ranged from $113,174 to $144,501. The trial court found the former wife “routinely” underreported her overall income.69

Colorado held that reduced income due to a spouse’s objectively reasonable decision to retire, made in good faith and not with the intention of depriving the other spouse of support, should be recognized as a basis for modifying maintenance.70 In Connecticut, a trial court may consider the income of the payor’s new spouse in modifying the amount of alimony to increase it.71

c. Cohabitation

The determination of whether an alimony recipient is cohabiting is fact driven.72 In South Carolina, alimony terminates if the recipient has been cohabiting for ninety days. If it appears that the parties temporarily separate just to prevent the running of the ninety-day period, the court should ignore the temporary separation.73 In considering whether the cohabitation should terminate alimony, Utah courts generally look at whether the couple has a shared residence, an intimate relationship, and a common household involving shared expenses and shared decisions.74 The Ohio Court of Appeals held that when the former wife testified that the other individual was a visitor to her home who never paid any of her day-to-day living expenses or household bills, there was no cohabitation.75 A Connecticut court upheld terminating alimony when the former wife and her partner resided under the same roof for approximately half of each week, took meals together, regularly communicated by phone, frequently traveled together, and the partner provided support in numerous ways.76

A New Jersey Court required the ex-husband seeking to terminate, suspend, or modify alimony based on his ex-wife’s alleged cohabitation with her boyfriend to establish a prima facie showing of cohabitation before he would be entitled to conduct discovery. The court acknowledged such a showing could be difficult, as evidence was often consistent with either a dating relationship or cohabitation relationship. The legislative amendments to alimony statutes elaborated on the relevant factors to proving cohabitation but did not change the burden of proof or conditions for compelling discovery.77

3. Enforcement

A Louisiana trial court’s decision to credit the former husband and his new wife’s testimony that the former husband made accelerated spousal support payments while the former wife was in law school was not manifestly erroneous. The court allowed the former husband a credit against spousal support arrearages.78A North Carolina court determined that specific performance was an appropriate remedy to enforce a husband’s obligation to make alimony payments under the parties’ separation agreement.79

In another case involving differing jurisdiction’s laws, a husband argued that the law of Ontario (Canada) that does not automatically terminate spousal support on the remarriage of the recipient spouse violated Washington public policy and should not be enforced. The court held that the husband failed to establish that Ontario law regarding the duration of support obligation amounted to a manifest incompatibility with Washington’s public policy such that the Ontario order could not be enforced. No right was violated by Ontario’s order continuing a spousal support obligation, and no Washington public policy was offended by the order.80

D. Alternative Dispute Resolution

Three states, Arizona, Hawaii, and North Dakota, have enacted the Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act. Several states allow family law arbitration but use the Uniform Arbitration Act or the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act. South Carolina found that the submission of children’s issues to binding arbitration would be an improper delegation of the family court’s authority and violative of South Carolina law. The procedures mandated by the Uniform Arbitration Act would prevent the family court from determining whether an award is in the child’s best interest.81 Note that the Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act better protects children’s issues than the general arbitration law.

An arbitrator’s factual finding regarding the gross income of a party, which was made in the course of determining alimony and the equitable distribution of marital assets, is not binding on the court with respect to its subsequent adjudication of child support. In Connecticut, child support is statutorily and contractually excluded from the arbitration.82

E. Attorneys

1. Role

Courts continue to define the role of attorneys for children. An attorney appointed to represent a child in a contested custody proceeding must be given the same opportunities as the attorneys for the parents and other contestants.83 In Pennsylvania, counsel representing the child’s legal interests in termination of parental rights case could represent the child’s best interests, if the interests did not diverge.84

2. Ethical Issues

Some of the ethical issues this year involved social media issues. Noting that the degree of intimacy among Facebook “friends” varies widely and does not differentiate between a close friend and a distant acquaintance, the fact that a lawyer who represented a potential witness and party was listed as a friend on the judge’s personal Facebook page did not automatically disqualify the judge.85 In September 2019, ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion 488, which states that a judge need not automatically recuse or be disqualified if a lawyer or party in a matter before the judge is an acquaintance or friend. Recusal or disqualification is necessary, however, when the judge is in a close personal relationship with a lawyer or party in a matter. The new rule is in keeping with current practice.

Counsel who met with a husband regarding distribution of a homeowner’s check was not disqualified from representing the wife in subsequent divorce action. It was not reasonably probable that the husband provided confidential information to counsel that would have prejudiced the husband in the divorce action.86 Disciplinary panels are not sympathetic to lawyers who have sex with their clients. At least two were disbarred.87 New York suspended an attorney until such time as his back-due child support was paid in full.88

3. Malpractice

Two states determined that a lawyer appointed to be a guardian ad litem is entitled to immunity from malpractice actions.89 An attorney’s failure to advise the client that the property settlement agreement removed her as the primary beneficiary on her ex-husband’s life insurance policy was not malpractice because the client had never informed the attorney about the policy. The client was contributorily negligent.90

A sexual relationship between attorney and client did not give rise to a per se legal malpractice claim, absent evidence the attorney violated a duty to the client. As a matter of first impression, the Iowa Supreme Court found that a sexual relationship between attorney and client did not give rise to breach of fiduciary duty claim, absent evidence of nexus between relationship and a breach of attorney’s fiduciary duty.91

F. Child in Need of Care

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) applies to a child in need of care proceedings. Arizona found that the UCCJEA applied to private dependency proceedings in which a grandmother sought custody of her seven-year-old grandson. The Arizona state court could not defer to tribal court’s jurisdiction over a custody dispute without first determining whether tribal court complied with the UCCJEA and there was a triable issue as to the child’s home state.92 The Colorado juvenile court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to terminate the parental rights of an Iranian mother and father. There was an Iranian custody order that had been made in factual circumstances in substantial conformity with the UCCJEA standards. The father was still in Iran, so the Iranian court had continuing jurisdiction over the custody issues. Even though the United States does not have diplomatic relations, the judge was required to confer with the court in Iran.93 Kansas had subject matter jurisdiction to terminate parental rights in a child-in-need-of-care case after California, which heard the original neglect case, transferred its jurisdiction. An order transferring a case from California to Kansas was not enforceable under the UCCJEA but was entitled to comity.94

California had continuing jurisdiction to declare the child dependent even though the mother and child had lived in South Carolina for five years.95 Arizona could not issue dependency and adoption orders when the child was still subject to an Alabama order and the Alabama court had not yet relinquished jurisdiction. In other words, the later Alabama order relinquishing jurisdiction did not apply retroactively.96

1. Child Neglect

If a petitioner relies on imminent danger of harm to establish child neglect, the harm must be near or impending, not merely possible. An uncorroborated out-of-court statement that the mother failed to feed the children was not enough, nor is evidence of mental illness alone unless there is imminent harm.97 Derivative neglect of a child can result in the child being taken into care where the child has had other siblings taken into care and the parent has not corrected the problems that led to the children being taken.98 A father derivatively neglected two of his children through the sexual abuse and neglect of his third child.99 A father was collaterally estopped from denying allegations of neglect based on a guilty plea to endangering the welfare of the child where he had the opportunity to litigate.100 Evidence that the father struck the mother, causing her injuries, in the presence of the children supported a finding of neglect.101

Mother did not relinquish physical custody of her minor child, and thus paternal grandparents of the child did not have standing to seek allocation of parental responsibilities, even though the grandparents cared for the child for over two years and were in physical possession of the child as of the date they filed the petition. The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) placed the child with the grandparents following the mother’s stipulation to allegations against her. DCFS retained legal custody and guardianship of the child, the mother understood, the paternal grandmother admitted that permanency goal was for the mother to regain custody of the child within twelve months, and the mother regularly exercised visitation with the child.102

2. Termination of Parental Rights

To terminate parental rights, the court must find by clear and convincing evidence that a parent is unfit.103 North Carolina denied a grandmother’s attempt to terminate a father’s parental rights based on his agreement not to oppose termination. The court found the agreement improperly took away the court’s power to assert the objectives of the termination statutes.104 The Montana Supreme Court overturned a termination of parental rights decision where it found the child welfare agency failed to make reasonable efforts to reunite the mother with her child and did not establish by clear and convincing evidence that the mother’s substance use disorder was unlikely to change within a reasonable time.105 The trial court did not abuse its discretion in terminating the mother’s rights as minimum due process was observed.106 State’s statutorily required notice did not authorize the grant of a default judgment terminating the mother’s rights without any evidence when she did not appear because her lawyer was there.107 On the other hand, where the mother had substance abuse and mental health issues and did not show up for the hearing on termination of her parental rights, the court could proceed without her presence because she had proper notice and opportunity to be heard.108

G. Child Custody

1. Jurisdiction: Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act

a. Home State—Initial

The UCCJEA provides subject matter jurisdiction for hearing a child custody action. The primary basis for jurisdiction is that a state is the child’s home state where the child has lived in that state with a parent or person acting as a parent for six months preceding the filing of the petition. Subject matter jurisdiction cannot be created by waiver, estoppel, laches, or consent. The date of filing the petition determines the jurisdiction of the court, even if all parties leave the state after the filing.109 A defect in subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time by any party or by the court itself. Therefore, the father could raise the lack of New York Family Court’s subject matter jurisdiction for the first time in a motion to vacate the custody order. The child was born in New Jersey and had not lived in New York either since birth or for six months prior to the date of commencement of the mother’s action. The fact that the child had lived in New York for several years after commencement of the proceedings was irrelevant to whether the court had jurisdiction in the first place.110

Whether a court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the UCCJEA is a question of law reviewed de novo.111 The Nebraska Supreme Court vacated numerous court orders given over seven years when it discovered the child had not lived in the United States. Therefore, Nebraska never had subject matter jurisdiction.112 While subject matter jurisdiction cannot be waived, it is subject to the principles of res judicata when the parties have litigated the specific issue of jurisdiction.113

Illinois courts have found that newborn babies do not “live” in the hospital where they are born, so that state does not have home state jurisdiction. Illinois could exercise jurisdiction as the significant connection state.114 When the mother moved from Ohio to Nevada when she was seven months pregnant, the child’s home state was Nevada, so the father’s petition in Ohio had to be dismissed.115

Prior to filing the custody proceeding, the children lived in both Michigan and Ohio. Michigan was the home state because the parents and children lived together there prior to the mother moving to Ohio.116 North Carolina determined that even if the parties agreed that North Carolina would have jurisdiction, the agreement could not be enforced if there was a home state.117

The Virgin Islands adopted the physical presence test to determine whether a child has lived in the state for six months preceding the commencement of the proceeding.118 It also determined that the extended home state provision of section 201 of the UCCJEA only applies when the Virgin Islands had home state jurisdiction already. Where the child had lived in the Virgin Islands for only four months when the mother left, the six-month extended home state jurisdiction provision did not apply.119 Mexico could not be the home state when the child was living with the grandmother who was not awarded custody and who did not claim a right to custody under Mexican law and was therefore not a person acting as a parent.120

Temporary absences do not impact the six months. Kentucky courts came up with a test for determining whether an absence is temporary. The trial court should look not only at the length of the absence, but also at the parent’s purpose in removing the child from the state, the belief of the parent remaining in the claimed home state that the absence was to be temporary, whether the absence was of indefinite duration, and “the totality of the circumstances surrounding the child’s absence.” When children were sent from Colorado to Kentucky to spend the summer so the mother would not have to search for day care, the absence from Colorado was temporary.121 A New Jersey court found that the time periods the child spent with the mother were mere temporary absences from the child’s home state of New York so New Jersey lacked jurisdiction.122

A few cases discussed “significant connections” with a state. Oklahoma decided that children who were only in the state for three weeks did not have a significant connection with Oklahoma, nor was there substantial evidence concerning the children’s past, present, and future care.123 A Nebraska court determined that Florida did not have significant connection jurisdiction even though the mother and child had lived there for four months. The court found that Nebraska had “last resort” jurisdiction.124

b. Temporary Emergency Jurisdiction

In New York, emergency jurisdiction applies not only to the child being abused but also when a parent or sibling of the child is threatened or subject to mistreatment or abuse.125 An Illinois appellate court reversed an emergency order because the pleading did not allege that the child was abandoned or under a threat of mistreatment or abuse. The trial court also did not set a time for the respondent to seek an order from the state that would have jurisdiction, nor did it record its conversation with the Wisconsin judge.126 In another case, a Florida trial court was reversed for failing to communicate with the court that would otherwise have jurisdiction.127

Temporary emergency jurisdiction is reserved for extraordinary circumstances. The record did not establish whether a child’s absence from the grandparent’s care in Virginia resulting from the mother taking the child to Oregon was temporary such that time away would still count toward the six months to establish Virginia as the home state.128 The New York court had subject matter jurisdiction under the emergency provisions to issue a protective order to the mother. Even though the father was incarcerated in another state at the time the action was filed, the mother had fled to be with family after his abuse landed her in hospital.129

An assertion of emergency jurisdiction does not give a court the authority to make a permanent order. The authority to do that lies with the court that would otherwise have jurisdiction apart from the emergency.130 An Oregon court found that for a court to take temporary emergency jurisdiction, it must make findings concerning the emergency. If not, the case will be reversed so the trial court can decide if an emergency really does exist.131

A court that has taken emergency jurisdiction must contact the court where a custody determination has been made to set a limit on the emergency and determine whether the original court will relinquish its exclusive continuing jurisdiction.132 In Kansas, an order entered under the court’s emergency jurisdiction became a final order after six months pass and no other court had exercised its appropriate jurisdiction.133

c. Continuing Jurisdiction

Once a state with proper jurisdiction makes a custody order, that state retains continuing exclusive jurisdiction until all parties leave the state or the state relinquishes jurisdiction. Tennessee determined that when the left-behind father continues to exercise all his visitation with his child in the state, the state retains jurisdiction even though the mother and child had lived in Georgia for six years.134

A California family court did not have jurisdiction to modify a North Carolina provision limiting a parent’s contact with certain adults when the children were visiting. The father still lived in the decree state and the family court did not contact the out-of-state court where an action was pending.135 The Connecticut court’s order granting the guardianship of a child to grandparents is a child-custody determination for UCCJEA purposes. For the mother to modify in another state, there had to be evidence that the Connecticut court determined either that it no longer has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction or that a New Hampshire court would be a more convenient forum.136

Jurisdiction ceases when the state that made the initial custody determination decides that neither the parent nor the child has significant connection with the state.137 A state also loses its continuing jurisdiction when it is clear that all parents or persons acting as parents no longer reside in the decree state.138 The Alaska Supreme Court vacated and remanded a case where the trial court failed to determine whether Oregon had lost jurisdiction and whether Alaska had jurisdiction.139 A Georgia court held that when the father lives in Georgia and the mother admits to being a temporary resident of Colorado due to her husband’s military service, Florida lost its exclusive continuing jurisdiction even though the mother actually still lives in Florida.140

In order to modify a custody determination of another state in Alabama, the out-of-state custody determination must be appropriately registered under section 305 of the UCCJEA.141 In Arizona, however, a custody order from another state does not have to be registered before it can be modified.142 A Colorado court erred when it refused to register a Georgia parenting plan. When an order from another state is registered, the registrant is entitled to all the local remedies that would be available to enforce local orders.143

d. Exercise of Jurisdiction

Before a court determines that it should decline jurisdiction in favor of a more convenient forum, it is required to consider the statutory factors and allow the parties to submit information regarding these factors. Failure to do so in New York is reversible error.144 Because a New York trial court did not make a record of its conversation with a Mississippi court, the appellate panel could not review its determination that Mississippi was a more appropriate forum and reversed.145 New York determined that when it is the home state and is considering transferring the case to a more appropriate forum, the New York court should insist that the forum vacate any orders that it made prior to the transfer.146 In one case, New York concluded that it should relinquish jurisdiction to Washington because the child had not lived in New York since 2011.147

California determined that India was a more appropriate forum than California and rejected the father’s argument that the court could only make such a determination if it had concurrent jurisdiction.148 When a court declines jurisdiction based upon the state being an inconvenient forum, the court must make findings demonstrating consideration of all factors in its determination of inconvenient forum.149

e. Procedure

California was not required to defer to a pending proceeding in Belarus because the father was never given notice of the Belarus proceeding, and therefore that country was not exercising jurisdiction in accordance with the UCCJEA.150 In order for an out-of-state custody order to be enforced in Alabama, the order must be appropriately registered under section 305 of the UCCJEA.151 Courts in the United States will recognize foreign orders made in substantial conformity with the UCCJEA. Kentucky refused to register a Dubai custody determination, however, because the person seeking registration (the mother) did not produce any evidence that the determination was made in accordance with the UCCJEA.152

In another procedural case, a mother on active military duty was not entitled to a stay of proceedings pursuant to Servicemembers Civil Relief Act in the father’s action alleging violations of the parenting time agreement. Although the mother included in her application statements from her commanding officer that military leave was not authorized and that the mother’s duties precluded her appearance in court, she failed to set forth facts stating the manner in which her military duty materially affected her ability to appear. She only stated that her workload had dramatically increased and that her duties were time-sensitive. She failed to state a date of availability to appear, and instead only noted anticipated possible date of telephonic availability.153

2. Factors

a. Generally

In most states, agreements or parenting plans of the parties are presumed to be in the child’s best interest. A recent Georgia court, however, reminded parties that it is the trial judge who has the ultimate say on best interest of the child. The trial court is not bound by agreements between parties regarding custody. Such a result would destroy the power of the courts to reject inadequate, overreaching, unconscionable, or otherwise invalid settlement agreements of child custody disputes.154

In awarding residency, most courts continue to value stability for the child. Two New York cases illustrate this. In one, the mother who had a clear understanding of the children’s needs was entitled to sole physical custody and final decision-making authority. The court could take into account the stability and continuity afforded by the present arrangement, even when it arose from parties’ voluntary agreement.155 In another case, the court awarded sole legal and residential custody to the father, who was better able to provide for the children’s wellbeing and provide a stable environment. The mother engaged in criminal activity, shoplifted with the children present, was in an abusive relationship, and let men reside in house.156

In a Maryland case that seems like a throw back to the 1950s, an appellate court reversed a trial judge who used gender stereotypes to award the father custody because the court thought the young mother should not work absent financial necessity. The appellate court noted that

[t]here was not one scintilla of evidence, however, that linked the mother’s behavior as a part-time worker and student to an adverse impact on her daughter or her development. . . . The judge’s assumption that a youthful parent, especially a woman, must “sow her wild oats” in derogation of any ability to meaningfully contribute to her child is not supported by any of the evidence. None of the “concerns” of the judge regarding mother that yielded her decision to award custody to father has any basis in the record linking mother’s actions to adverse effect on the child.157

In Virginia, the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in making the inference that first grade would be more demanding for the child than preschool or kindergarten. The court ordered a 50-50 custody arrangement for a two-year period which would terminate upon the child’s entering first grade, with the wife then becoming the primary custodian from that point forward.158

Courts struggled with interpretation of parenting plans that were not specific. A parenting plan required that the children be enrolled and be participants in the Catholic religion, but that did not compel the mother to ensure the children attended Catholic Mass. The term “participant” suggested only that person take part in something to some degree. The parenting plan explicitly required the children to participate in First Communion and Confirmation; the plan did not require the mother to also facilitate their attendance at Catholic Mass.159 New York courts will enforce clauses in custody agreements that provide for a specific religious upbringing for the children where the agreement is in the best interests of the children. The father was directed to make reasonable efforts to ensure the children’s compliance with their religious requirements.160

b. Child’s Preference

The Pennsylvania Superior Court found that the court was entitled to give significant weight to the child’s preferences in modifying a child custody arrangement to decrease the number of days that father exercised custody.161 A Mississippi trial court properly refused to allow a twelve-year-old to testify in a post-divorce modification because there were concerns that mother had coached the child. Mother violated the agreement by allowing boyfriend to spend the night when children were present, making poor financial decisions, and refusing to co-parent.162

The child who expressed a clear preference to continue living with the father was aggrieved by the trial court’s modification giving mother sole legal and physical custody so the child’s attorney could pursue an appeal. Appellate court found that modification was not in the best interest of the child, who had lived with the father for nine years.163

c. Perpetrator of Domestic Violence

Under the Alaska statute, a parent has a history of perpetrating domestic violence if the superior court finds that he or she “engaged in more than one incident of domestic violence.” The court found, however, that one episode of excessive corporal punishment lasting thirty minutes does not evince a “pattern” of domestic violence.164 A New York court awarded legal and physical custody to the mother even though she had been a victim of father’s domestic violence and then that of an abusive live-in boyfriend with whom she had other children. The father used excessive corporal punishment and failed to foster the children’s relationship with the mother by interfering with phone contact and limiting her access to the children.165

The Minnesota statute provides that the court shall use a rebuttable presumption that joint legal custody or joint physical custody is not in best interests of child if domestic abuse has occurred. The statute does not require the that court award sole custody to victim of domestic violence or assign a burden of production or persuasion to rebut the presumption to any particular party. Thus, the district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding joint physical custody and sole legal custody of child to mother, who had committed domestic abuse.166 In North Dakota, the evidence of police testimony who saw redness, swelling, and a faint bruise on the wife’s face after responding to wife’s call to emergency services, as well as wife’s testimony husband struck her again, approximately three months later (corroborated by two witnesses who noticed bruising on the wife’s face), was sufficient to support a finding that a husband committed domestic violence, which would support an award of primary residential responsibility of the child to her in a divorce action.167

d. Experts

The Idaho Supreme Court found that a magistrate court abused its discretion in allowing the husband to retain a parenting time evaluator as his expert in contested custody case. Parenting time evaluators should only be neutral and appointed by the court or by stipulation of the parties. The husband paid $105,000 to the psychologist who recommended the wife undergo a psychological examination and counseling. The trial court should not have ordered it unless there was direct testimony that it was in the best interest of the child.168

One recent Maine case looked at the use of an expert in the context of a high-conflict custody case. The expert testified extensively as to her work in the field of parental alienation, her education, her publications, the general acceptance of the field, her previous work as an expert in judicial proceedings, and the methods that she applied in this specific case. The hearing included substantial discussions of the mother’s role in preventing the father from having contact with the children, making the expert’s testimony relevant, and the testimony aided the court by providing “a counterintuitive explanation as to the dynamics . . . present in [the] situation.” The court appropriately limited the purposes of the expert’s testimony and did not assign the expert’s testimony much weight, finding that no parental alienation had occurred and that the expert “presented as an advocate for one side, rather than a neutral observer.”169

3. Modification

Courts are reluctant to modify child custody awards unless there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the previous award was entered. In New York, the breakdown of the mother’s relationship with the daughter, which resulted in her not wanting to return to the mother’s care, constituted a change of circumstances. The evidence also supported the finding that the father had violated the custody order by not encouraging his daughter to visit and that visitation with the mother was not detrimental to the best interest of the child.170

Mother’s allegations of changed circumstances at the father’s house established a prima facie case for modification of custody of two children in North Dakota. Father had remarried a woman with three children who moved in with father’s five children. Father’s household was stressful for all, and the older two children did not want to go back.171 After a failed mediation, a Vermont court found that modifying parental rights and responsibilities to award sole physical rights and responsibilities to the mother was in the child’s best interests. The trial court erred, however, in making an indefinite modification of parent-child contact between father and child to permit father to have contact with child only if child agreed to such contact because the evidence was not clear and and convincing that any further contact with father would be detrimental.172

Mother adequately alleged a change in circumstances warranting an inquiry into whether the children’s best interests would be served by modifying the custody agreement by showing that the children’s performance at school had deteriorated and the increased animosity between the parents made the shared custody arrangement unworkable.173

In a case involving high-conflict parents, the Connecticut appellate court found that the tasks assigned to the guardian ad litem, to select the co-parenting counselor/coordinator if the parents could not agree on whom to select, did not amount to improper delegation of court’s authority. The trial court did abuse its discretion by ordering that the guardian ad litem fees be paid by whichever party lost in court if mediation was unsuccessful. While the trial court did not abuse its discretion by ordering child to continue at private school through eighth grade, it did abuse its discretion by ordering mother and father to divide the cost of child’s private high school education.174 The District of Columbia appellate court found that a trial court’s order, as part of modification of child custody, directing that father’s visitation with children be at mother’s sole discretion, was an impermissible delegation of its sole authority to direct visitation.175

There were several relocation cases this year, and results were fact-specific. A New York court allowed the mother’s relocation to Florida after a nine-day hearing. Although she had relocated several times and was with her mother in an admittedly temporary situation, her plan for caring for the child reflected an ability and willingness to be regularly and fully available in ways that the father cannot or does not. The mother’s testimony as to employment prospects was credible, and the father presented no contrary evidence. The court also looked at the child’s close relationship with her sister as a factor in the mother’s favor.176

A Nebraska trial court properly could find a change of circumstances. Although the mother and father both communicated prior to the original joint custody order and denied the hypothetical possibility of moving should their then-existing relationships develop further, mother’s relationship had since resulted in a pregnancy, a marriage proposal, and a wedding.177

Just because there is a change of circumstances, however, does not mean that a child’s primary residency should change. The court must consider both statutory and nonstatutory factors. A mother’s proposed out-of-state relocation from Buffalo, Wyoming, to Plains, Montana, 600 miles away, was a material change of circumstances because it rendered alternate weekend visitation unworkable. The trial court, however, abused its discretion in modifying the award of custody of four-year-old to primary physical in the father. Court did not consider that change would separate the child from the half sister, nor did it consider the mother’s primary caretaker status, nor mother’s motives for relocation and whether reasonable visitation was still possible for the father.178

4. Nonparent Custody

A New York appellate court upheld the trial court’s finding that extraordinary circumstances existed such that it was in the children’s best interest to award custody of the two youngest children to their aunt and the two oldest children to their great aunt rather than to their mother. The trial court erred impermissibly, however, in abdicating its responsibility to ensure that the mother had frequent and regular access to the children by delegating to aunt and great aunt its authority to set a supervised visitation schedule.179 In Indiana, the grandparent visitation order did not survive the subsequent marriage of the natural parents, where a visitation order had been granted on basis that children had been born out of wedlock.180

A New York trial court properly determined that a former wife was judicially estopped from arguing that her former husband, who raised the wife’s child as his daughter, was not the child’s parent for standing to seek parental access. He could also seek standing under a statute.181

A juvenile court’s modification of an existing child custody order to transfer custody of a young child from the paternal grandmother to the paternal grandfather without first conducting a full evidentiary hearing deprived parties of due process. There was no sworn testimony and no cross-examination. The parties were all pro se and were not given the opportunity to call witnesses in support of their positions. The court conducted its hearing more in the nature of a discussion than a true hearing.182

In North Carolina, a trial court was required under the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act to award limited contact with son to the stepmother when ruling on father’s motion to grant caretaking authority to nonparent due to deployed parent. The son had a close and substantial relationship with stepmother and half siblings, and existing cooperative relationship between mother and stepmother to maintain relationships among the children indicated that limited contact with stepmother was not contrary to son’s best interest.183

In Georiga, a contempt order that indicated the mother did not have the right to dictate who the father could bring to meetings or appointments with the children’s doctors or therapists did not impermissibly modify the parties’ parenting plan in divorce decree. The mother was in contempt of court for willfully disparaging the father to their children’s therapists and doctors and for willfully interfering with father’s right to receive information from them. Evidence was insufficient to find the mother in contempt of court due to her refusal to allow the father’s fiancé to attend child’s therapy sessions.184

H. Child Support

Overall there appeared to be fewer major appellate child support cases this past year. An interesting question arises as to when a person other than a legal or biological parent can be ordered to pay support. A Pennsylvania court used the doctrine of paternity by estoppel to order a former boyfriend to pay child support. The man had been in an in loco parentis relationship with child that began when the child was an infant, continuing until the child was twelve. He held himself out as the child’s father, provided most of child’s financial support, listed child as a dependent on seven years of tax returns, and formed a close emotional bond with the child. After the mother and child left his residence, he stopped paying support and the mother went on public assistance. The child continued to need both financial and emotional support.185

1. Income

A Colorado court properly found that father’s deferred compensation plan is not income for child support purposes where he did not voluntarily contribute to the plan and had no control over the funds or the plan’s administration. The father will receive the deferred compensation funds only after he retires at age sixty-five and, even then, there is no guarantee father will receive any of the funds. The court distinguished cases that involve employees who voluntarily chose to defer or redirect their receipt of income.186

Restricted share units (RSUs), once vested, were “stock” that the parties’ separation agreement excluded from the definition of “gross income” for child support. The provision of the separation agreement excluding stock from gross income calculation applied to performance-based stock awards. Performance stock units (PSUs) were not “stock” but rather “performance-based bonuses” that were within the definition of “gross income.” Severance pay was neither base pay nor a performance-based bonus, and, thus, was not within definition of “gross income.”187

Where both parents were unemployed as a result of disabilities, and the mother received higher benefits for the children, application of traditional child support guidelines would have led to unjust results. It was within trial court’s discretion to modify child support to award the father half of monthly disability benefits the mother received as child support on behalf of the children.188

2. Modification

As a general rule, child support can be modified due a material change in circumstances of the parties. Many states have specific factors in their child support guidelines. The change can be in income or in parenting time. The father’s increased share of overnight custody from fifteen percent to forty-five percent since the original judgment constituted a sufficient change in circumstances warranting modification of child support.189 The father’s receipt of Social Security disability benefits did not preclude a finding that he was capable of work, and his receipt of public assistance did not constitute a substantial change in circumstances to warrant a downward modification.190

The father made a prima facie showing of a substantial change in circumstances that would entitle him to an evidentiary hearing on his motion to modify his child support obligation after he was placed on house arrest while awaiting trial on federal charges. He could not work and his income had changed by more than 15%.191

Parties all lived in northern Virginia until the mother relocated with the child to central New York. Six months later, the father quit his job and moved to New York to be closer to the child and sought a decrease in child support because his new job did not pay as much. The appellate court found the general rule that voluntary cessation of higher-paying employment does not give one reason to seek a decrease should not be applied inflexibly when it was the mother who had moved the child hundreds of miles away from the father and created the difficulties in long-distance parenting.192

Parties’ court-approved settlement agreement provided that the father was to pay for private school tuition so long as both parties jointly agreed for the children to be enrolled in private school. The father decided that the children should not be enrolled in private school. The mother brought a petition to modify child support to order him to pay for private school despite his refusal. The appellate court held that the wife “failed to prove any material change in circumstances that was not foreseeable prior to the time of the agreement. . . .”193

Under Florida law, the court found that the father’s continued failure to exercise visitation with one of his children warranted an upward modification of child support.194 Alaska determined that for the purpose of UIFSA, a narrow definition applies that residence means domicile—the place where obligor intends to reside or remain.195

A Florida appellate court found that a trial court had subject-matter jurisdiction to modify the father’s child-support obligation that was initially established in New York, even though the court might have committed an error of law in modifying the duration of the child-support obligation. The trial court could not, four years later, vacate the order to the extent that it modified the duration of the child-support obligation, where the mother had moved to Florida with the child and the father had moved to North Carolina. The Full Faith and Credit Child Support Order Act creates a framework for dealing with foreign support orders to determine which order controls and requires that such orders be given full faith and credit by all states. A state that issues an initial child support order has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the order; however, the issuing state loses such jurisdiction when neither the child nor any of the parties continue to reside in the state or when all of the parties file written consents with the issuing court to allow another state to assume continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the order, despite the parties’ state of residence.196

3. Enforcement

The parties’ property settlement agreement provided that the father “will pay 100% of the . . . tuition, room, board and books for both children until they complete the degree they are currently in and so long as they are in a full time program or until such time as they reach the age of [25] years, whichever comes first.” At the time of the agreement’s execution, the eldest daughter had completed her undergraduate degree and was enrolled in a graduate program. The court rejected the husband’s contention that the agreement’s language obligated him to pay only for the eldest daughter’s graduate program, not her outstanding undergraduate debt. The court properly concluded the plain language of the agreement required payment of the undergraduate debt.197

The mother willfully violated a court order for child support where she failed to pay the amounts. She did not meet the burden of showing by competent credible evidence that her inability was due to medical conditions. There were no objective tests, only the mother’s subjective complaints.198 Breaking with the majority rule in other states, the Wyoming court held that a child support is a “garnishment” and cannot exceed the legal limits on garnishment. The trial court erred in enforcing the additional garnishment of the ex-husband’s earnings for amounts owing under the property division, given that the child support order equated to a garnishment for purposes of calculating a general twenty-five–percent limit on creditor garnishments of an individual’s disposable earnings.199

I. Cohabitants

The laws on cohabitation vary widely from state to state. Some states allow no remedies for separating cohabitants, others allow almost marriage-like remedies if the parties are in an intimate committed relationship. The Uniform Law Commission currently has a drafting committee working on the Economic Rights of Unmarried Cohabitants.

In Oregon, if a cohabiting couple treated the man’s separate property house as “theirs,” the trial court may award the woman half of the increase in value that occurred during the cohabitation.200 Rings that a man bought that were worn solely by his cohabitant were a gift to her and could not be a gift conditional on marriage because the man was married to someone else during the cohabitation.201

In distributing domestic partnership property held by cohabitants, Alaska found that property must be classified as either held as partnership property or separate property based on applicable law, including a statute or valid express or implied contract. Absent a valid statute or contract, the property must be classified according to the parties’ intent.202 Washington found that unmarried parties had a committed intimate relationship and that certain assets acquired during the relationship were to be classified as community-like property subject to a 50/50 equitable division between the parties.203

Unmarried cohabitants may agree to enter into an enforceable contract that establishes rights and responsibilities towards each other so long as there is “lawful consideration separate and apart from any express or implied agreement regarding sexual relations.” The trial court properly rejected party’s oral cohabitation contract claim and request for imposition of constructive trust based on the testimony provided.204 The statute of frauds does not apply to oral agreement between cohabitating parties relating to the provision of domestic and legal services in exchange for support and sharing of business profits. While the court noted “agreements between persons cohabitating together are not per se required to be in writing,” agreements relating to real estate would be subject to statute of frauds unless an exception applied.205

J. Divorce, Annulment, and Separate Maintenance

1. Jurisdiction

While parties in Ohio may not consent to a divorce when the petitioner has not been domiciled in the state for six months, they may stipulate to facts from which the court may determine the issue of domicile.206 Alabama takes the position that if a divorce has been properly filed in Alabama, it does not matter that a prior petition for divorce was filed in Tennessee.207

The Wyoming Supreme Court adopted the structured two-stage analysis under the U.S. Supreme Court case Gulf Oil Corp. v. Gilbert208 to determine whether a husband’s complaint for divorce was subject to dismissal on the ground of forum non conveniens. In the first stage, the court had to determine whether North Carolina, where the wife had filed a complaint for divorce (and where the husband and wife had resided during the marriage and had extensive interests), was an available adequate forum and capable of providing relief. If not, the Wyoming court could not dismiss the case. If, however, North Carolina provided an adequate alternate forum, the court had to balance the private and public interests, keeping in mind that the husband’s choice of Wyoming as the forum should not be disturbed except for weighty reasons. In balancing these interests, the district court had to consider, inter alia, the practical problems that made the trial of the case easy, expeditious, and inexpensive; whether North Carolina would provide the husband with adequate remedy with respect to obtaining a decree of divorce and an equitable distribution of the marital estate; whether the husband filed the complaint in Wyoming for the purpose of vexing, harassing, or oppressing the wife; and the administrative difficulties in litigating the case, including the time and expense to determine matters that were not of particular interest to Wyoming and/or congestion (or lack thereof) on the court’s calendar.209

2. Grounds

In Alabama parties may not stipulate but must produce evidence to support the ground for divorce.210 Mississippi determined that a husband’s physical abuse of the wife was the cause of breakdown of the marriage and not the wife’s adultery.211 In Tennessee, adultery is a ground for divorce, and it does not matter that the adulterous acts were committed after the parties separated.212 Where the court determined that because there was conflicting testimony with regard to constructive desertion and habitual cruel and inhumane treatment, it was not error to deny the wife a divorce and make her pay the husband’s attorney fees.213 Where the husband did not know the extent of the wife’s adulterous conduct, he could not possibly condone it.214

3. Procedural Issues

A couple of cases dealt with incompetent principals. The Indiana Court of Appeals held statutes governing the dissolution of marriage did not provide a means for the son of an incapacitated man to file a petition or counterpetition for the dissolution of his father’s marriage. Petitions and counterpetitions for dissolution required a verified averment by the petitioner of the grounds for dissolution, and the incapacitated man’s son, who was his guardian, was not authorized to make such an averment on his father’s behalf.215 A person holding a power of attorney cannot prosecute, or defend, a divorce action on behalf of an incompetent principal; that role is reserved exclusively for a court-appointed guardian or guardian ad litem.216

A husband’s default cannot be vacated when his reason for not responding was that he was opposed to divorce and hoped that by not participating, his wife would drop the case.217 A New York trial court judge erred in granting summary judgment against the ex-wife’s petition to set aside the divorce because there is evidence indicating that the husband may have led the wife to believe, through some device, trick, or deceit, that she did not need to defend the matrimonial action.218 Nebraska determined that while referees can be used in divorce cases, they should generally not be used.219

In Virginia, where a final decree of divorce has been entered in a bifurcated proceeding, the trial court still retains jurisdiction to determine the rights and interests of the parties in the marital property even when one of the former spouses dies. Therefore, property passes according to the laws of marital property and not according to the laws of descent.220 In New York, if at the time of the decedent’s death nothing remained to be done in the divorce action except enter a judgment, the parties’ substantive rights should be determined as if the judgment of divorce had been entered immediately as of the time nothing remained to be done except enter a judgment.221 In South Dakota, however, if the court has not entered the final decree of divorce before the husband died, the divorce is ineffective.222 Kansas also finds that if the death of either spouse in a divorce or separate maintenance action occurs before the filing of the journal entry, such death immediately terminates the action (as the district court loses jurisdiction) and the parties’ property settlement agreement—agreed to as part of the divorce or separate maintenance action—becomes void.223

K. Domestic Violence

A relationship between a male and a female that involved consensual, but sporadic, private sexual relations with few, if any, of the traditional elements of a dating relationship was a “dating relationship” for purposes of the female’s seeking of a restraining order.224 New Jersey determined that a mother who sought a restraining order against her former nanny was a protected party. The nanny had resided in the mother’s home for seven months, but the fact that a victim had provided an economic benefit to the defendant should not automatically disqualify the victim from seeking relief under the Act.225

A trial court was not required to consider the best interests of the parties’ minor child, in awarding temporary sole custody to the wife, in the wife’s proceedings seeking a protective order. The temporary custody award displaced a prior custody order, and the trial court satisfied its statutory obligations by appropriately considering the risk of abuse posed by the husband to the wife and the child.226

California determined that when a court holds a single hearing for restraining orders that arose out of two separate applications, it must make specific findings of fact before it can enter a mutual protective order.227 Social media played a role in a judge’s decision to grant a protection order. When determining whether that fear was reasonable to grant a permanent protection order, the judge was entitled to consider the wife’s description of years of escalating emotional, verbal, and physical abuse. The judge could also consider the husband’s Facebook post from the year before, which laid out in grim detail the death of a person with the wife’s same birth date. The judge could find significance in the timing of the posts and could reasonably infer that the timing of the “like” would stand as a reminder to the wife of the alarming Facebook post from the previous year.228

The wife’s testimony that the daughter made an out-of-court statement that the daughter was upset because the husband threatened to euthanize the dogs was admissible as circumstantial evidence of the daughter’s state of mind and was not inadmissible hearsay, in a hearing on the wife’s application for a domestic violence restraining order. Though the trial court had power to prohibit the husband from disparaging the wife in the minor children’s presence, the restraining order that prohibited the husband from posting about the divorce case on social networking website constituted invalid prior restraint on free speech.229

L. Marriage

1. Requirements

By reason of a husband’s conduct (cautioning the wife not to refer to the fact that they were cousins without providing her an explanation), he was estopped from denying the validity of his twenty-six-year marriage in a divorce proceeding based on the fact that the husband and wife were first cousins, which would make the marriage void under Missouri law. The parties acted as husband and wife during the entirety of the marriage, and the wife relied on the belief that she was married when performing services of a spouse and having four children.230

A couple of cases this year involved marriages performed in foreign countries. One couple obtained a marriage license in Pennsylvania, had a marriage ceremony and reception in France, were issued a marriage certificate in Pennsylvania, and lived in New York throughout their thirteen-year marriage. They had two children, filed taxes, purchased a home, and held themselves out as a married couple. The Pennsylvania license indicated that the parties would marry in Pennsylvania. The court rejected the husband’s argument that they were not married and concluded that under the laws of New York and Pennsylvania, such a defect did not invalidate the marriage.231

On the other hand, a couple who went to England to be married were unable to obtain a license because they did not meet the residency requirement. They went ahead with the wedding, which was officiated by a friend who was neither a minister nor an official authorized to solemnize marriages there. They had a wedding reception in Maine but did not seek or obtain a marriage license in Maine, nor did they take any other steps to create a valid marriage. For twenty-six years, they held themselves out to others as a married couple and had a son, now twenty, who thinks they are married. They filed joint income taxes, signed medical insurance documents as a married couple, and signed and had notarized a “Property Ownership Agreement” that characterizes them as “husband and wife.” This agreement indicates that, “in the event of a divorce, Whelan would retain exclusive ownership of the property.” The court found that they were not married, and did not adopt the putative spouse doctrine or the doctrine of marriage by estoppel.232

2. Common Law Marriage

South Carolina prospectively abolished common law marriages.233 The issue arose in a case brought by the putative husband for divorce and equitable distribution, which required a determination that the parties were married. The putative wife’s exclusive defense was that they were not married. A party seeking to prove the existence of a common law marriage must establish the necessary mutual assent by clear and convincing evidence.234 Alabama decided that a couple did not enter a common law marriage after their divorce because there was not clear and convincing evidence that they had a mutual intent to enter the marriage.235

Colorado determined that common law marriages are available to same-sex couples and that the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges applies retroactively to determine whether the couple had a valid marriage. The conduct of parties pre-Obergefell had to be examined with particular care because of the then-prohibition against same-sex marriage.236 The District of Columbia came to the same conclusion and determined that same-sex couples need to meet the same requirements as opposite-sex couples for cohabitations that occurred prior to the District’s legalization of same-sex marriages.237

M. Names

A Mississippi trial court erred when it did not consider the child’s best interests in changing the child’s last name to that of his father. A mother demonstrated that the change of her child’s last name from her surname to the father’s surname was not in the child’s best interests, as required to avoid the change under the Mississippi statute providing that “the surname of the child shall be that of the father.”238

In Florida, the name of a child born out of wedlock can only be changed from that of the mother where the record affirmatively shows that it is required for the welfare of the child.239 In New York, the burden is not on the person whose name the child currently bears, but on the person asking for the name change to show that the person whose name the child bears is unreasonable in denying the name change and it is in the child’s best interest to change the name.240

N. Parentage

The Uniform Parentage Act (2017) has been enacted in four states. About eleven states have enacted the UPA (2002). About twelve have variations of the original UPA (1973). In Minnesota, a biological father brought a paternity action against the mother and her husband, who had signed a recognition of paternity form. The court found biological father to be the legal father and awarded him joint custody.241 In Texas, a biological father whose child was conceived while the mother was married to another (presumed father) did not have the right to bring an action for parentage more than four years after the child’s birth. There was no constitutional violation.242 If a parent fails to revoke a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity within one year of the child’s birth, a presumed father-child relationship is created that cannot be rebutted by genetic testing.243

Intended parents were a married same-sex male couple, along with prospective gestational mother and her husband, who filed a joint petition requesting validation of their gestational agreement pursuant to UPA. The district court denied the petition because the petition had to show the intended mother could not have a child. The supreme court found the “intended mother” provision of UPA, requiring that at least one intended parent be a female for court approval of a gestational agreement, to be unconstitutional. That provision could be severed from the remainder of the Act. The provision violated the due process and equal protection rights of intended parents who were a married same-sex male couple.244

A same-sex former partner who had no biological connection to the child lacked standing to request parentage and time-sharing of child born while former partner was in a relationship with child’s mother. The former partner paid for sperm used to impregnate mother and parties had signed co-parenting agreement that referred to child to be born as “our child” and expressed intention for parties to jointly and equally share parental responsibility. Interestingly, the appellate court itself noted that the law was slow to address changes “as society and medicine create new factual situations.” Florida law does not provide a remedy to a partner who has no biological connection to a child.245

The Kansas Court of Appeals found that the same-sex former partner of the biological mother who conceived with assisted reproduction did not have a parent-child relationship. The biological mother successfully rebutted the presumption of parentage by acknowledgment and there was no writing giving the partner any parental rights.246

A husband and wife adopted a child. Then, the husband fathered a child with a relative of the wife who voluntarily gave the child to the husband and wife to raise as their own. The child’s birth certificate listed no father but listed the child’s surname as the husband’s surname. The husband and wife divorced in 2012. In the final judgment, the trial court found that the parties agreed that the child “is the biological child of the Husband, but is not the biological child of the Wife,” but awarded the wife primary residential custody to keep the siblings together. Later, the husband moved for modification of custody. The court eliminated the wife’s parental status, responsibility, and timesharing. The appellate court reversed on its face. Where the wife had established her status as parent in the final judgment, any modification of the parental responsibilities and time-sharing schedule in the judgment of dissolution must comply with the requirements of the Florida statute.247

O. Property

1. Classification of Property

In an “all property” state such as Massachusetts, inheritances, even though received prior to marriage, are part of the marital estate.248 The same is true with an increase in value of a premarital account that increased in value only because of interest.249 As a matter of first impression, the Nebraska Supreme Court held that, to the extent employment benefits such as unused sick time, vacation time, and comp time have been earned during the marriage, they constitute “deferred compensation benefits” and are considered part of the marital estate subject to equitable division.250

North Carolina found that the funds contributed by parties to several 529 Savings Plans during the marriage, which were created for use by parties’ children for educational expenses, were marital property. The savings plans could be distributed as part of the marital estate in divorce.251

A former wife had no interest in the life insurance policy that made up an irrevocable trust created by her former husband prior to their marriage. Thus, the irrevocable trust did not constitute marital property in which the community could have a community lien interest.252

A loan made by the wife to her husband prior to marriage was a marital obligation because the proceeds of the loan were used to help finance the husband’s divorce from his first spouse and therefore was for a marital purpose.253 In Louisiana, disability benefits are separate property because they replace salary that would otherwise be separate. Awarding the nonemployee spouse other property to make up for the fact that the disability benefits cannot be divided is error.254

a. Transactional Problems

Property given by the husband’s father to the husband for the purpose of building the marital home was essentially a gift to both spouses and, therefore, marital property.255 Wife’s significant noneconomic contributions and financial contribution from her nonmarital funds converted apartments, which husband bought before marriage and on which he had almost paid off the mortgage, to a marital asset.256 A trial court did not abuse its discretion in relying upon the value of husband’s initial contribution to a real estate development project as agreed upon in a partnership agreement for purposes of equitably distributing marital property in a divorce proceeding.257 Missouri held that living in a wife’s separate property townhouse for two years did not turn the townhouse into marital property.258

An interspousal transaction in which a husband and wife as joint tenants executed a deed conveying to the wife certain real property was not a transmutation of the husband’s community interest in the property. This was so even though the deed stated that the transfer was a bona fide gift.259 In California, the method of tracing of separate property is not solely limited to direct tract or total recapitulation so long as the method used adequately traces the separate and community property.260

Where the husband did not contribute to the growth of the business after the date of marriage, the increased value of his stock during marriage was separate property.261 So is an increase in the value of separate property if there is no evidence that the efforts of the community increased the value of the property.262

A genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the proceeds from a settlement agreement signed solely by husband constituted marital property. While the wife failed to establish that husband’s personal injury settlement agreement was intended to compensate wife for loss of consortium, the evidence did support the finding that the marital residence was marital property. The trial court could not use the source of funds rule to reclassify the marital residence as husband’s separate property.263

b. Pensions and Employee Benefits

A trial court commits error when it attempts to award the wife any part of the husband’s military retirement that he waived to select disability benefits and requires that the entire property division be reconsidered.264 Arizona also held that federal law precluded a state trial court from ordering a military husband in divorce decree to pay the equivalent of military retirement benefits to wife if the husband continued to work past his eligible retirement date.265 New York held that a waiver in the divorce decree of any interest in the husband’s pension was valid and therefore any payments made to the ex-wife must be turned over to the husband’s estate.266 Connecticut determined that a pension should be valued as of the date of the decree of dissolution. This means that dissipation of a marital asset after the divorce that was not disclosed is ignored in valuation and the court should use the date of divorce to value the omitted asset.267 A district court has discretion to order pension payments at the employee spouse’s first eligibility for retirement, even if the employee spouse has not yet retired. But the trial court did not err when it reduced the amount due to the wife by calculating the total amount owed to former wife for past payments, reduced the amount to judgment, then analyzed former husband’s financial obligations before determining the amount former husband was required to pay each month.268

2. Valuation and Distribution of Property

Minnesota determined that when a company is sold after the court’s valuation date, but before the dissolution, all of the money contracted for is marital property.269 Hawaii also held that in exceptional circumstances, the court may consider post-trial, pre-decree evidence of valuation when such consideration is necessary to make a just and equitable distribution of the marital estate.270 The parties stipulated that if the court determined that husband’s judicial income (an annuity) was retirement income subject to equitable distribution, then a deferred distribution method would be appropriate because the marital estate lacked sufficient assets to offset the marital value of the judicial income. The trial court proceeded to place a present value on the income. The appellate court remanded to determine if the retirement was marital property and the evidence was insufficient to support the trial court’s calculation of present value.271

A husband in Indiana did not rebut the presumption that an equal division of marital property was just and reasonable in a dissolution of marriage action. Thus, equal division of interest that accrued during the parties’ marriage on a retirement account, which the husband funded two years before the parties’ marriage, was warranted.272 In Alaska, an unequal division of the marital estate is permissible in order for the husband to maintain his Medicaid eligibility, particularly when all of his share of the estate would be in a Medicaid trust.273

Although fault can be considered in determining property division in Mississippi, a spouse’s misconduct is only one factor to consider in the division of marital assets. The trial court “should not view equitable distribution as a means to punish the offending spouse for marital misconduct. Rather, ‘marital misconduct is a viable factor entitled to be given weight by the chancellor when the misconduct places a burden on the stability and harmony of the marital and family relationship.’”274

Where the husband owned 99% of Deluxe Vending and is the only employee of the business—and remains in contact with the entities that continue to allow Deluxe Vending to operate vending machines and micro-markets on the properties on a month-to-month basis—any goodwill attached to the business is personal goodwill and not part of the value of the business.275

New York determined that a distributive award was not warranted even though the husband obtained an MBA degree during the marriage because the evidence showed it did not actually increase his earnings.276 Noting that a party’s earning capacity is not calculated by reference to amounts the party can theoretically earn, nor is earning capacity fixed at any one moment in a career, the appellate court found the trial court did not abuse its discretion in grounding its finding of the defendant’s earning capacity on the profits of the companies.277

Trial court was within its discretion to award the wife all marital assets despite magistrate’s recommendation to divide assets evenly and to freeze the husband’s entire employee stock ownership plan and trust despite awarding wife only half of it in final judgment dissolving marriage. The husband was an unemployed alcoholic with a history of domestic violence who had not supported his family for over a year and lacked any means to do so, had repeatedly violated a domestic violence injunction and burned marital home to ground after magistrate had heard issues, and was serving prison sentence for arson, burglary, and aggravated stalking.278 The husband’s losses of over $800,000 in trading short-term stocks, which are not dissipation as such, can be taken into account in awarding the wife a larger share of marital property due to the husband’s failure to preserve the marital estate.279

3. Enforcement

In an enforcement action against a husband who transferred funds awarded to the wife to his own investment account, the trial court could properly apply a measure of damages that would be used in a conversion proceeding.280 Tennessee enforced a California judgment that placed a constructive trust on two pieces of property the husband bought in Tennessee in order to enforce a California judgment.281

A husband and wife whose settlement agreement was incorporated into their divorce decree could not orally modify the property division terms of the decree. The Wyoming Supreme Court noted the general, longstanding rule that a district court lacked jurisdiction to modify the marital property distribution. Rather, the wife’s sole remedy to challenge the property distribution in the decree was motion to vacate the judgment on basis of fraud, mistake, inadvertence, or irregularity.282

In Indiana the failure of the husband to disclose his remainder interest in property when asked in interrogatories if he owned any interest in property justifies vacating the property provisions of the divorce decree.283 When a business sells for ten times the trial court’s valuation, there should be an inquiry into the circumstances, timing, and terms of the sale process to determine whether the wife should share in the increase in value.284

P. Torts

The statute establishing immunity from liability for persons reporting alleged child abuse or neglect does not provide that the people who fall within the statute’s scope enjoy immunity from suit or should be treated as if they were governmental actors. Under its unambiguous wording, the statute does not provide that courts lack jurisdiction over claims in which a plaintiff seeks to establish civil liability against a person covered by the statute. The statute did not deprive courts of jurisdiction over any claims and thus would not provide a basis for granting a plea to the jurisdiction.285

Husband sued his wife’s attorneys for allegedly recording his conversations with his attorneys and with his alleged paramour and using the contents of those recordings in the divorce proceedings. The district court held there is no absolute immunity shielding the attorney’s use of the recordings in the litigation.286

III. Conclusion

This year’s collection of cases highlights the vast variety of family issues that appear in the law reports. The movement of families and individuals across state and national boundaries has created some complex jurisdictional and choice of law issues. These cases are but a small sample of the thousands of cases filed annually. While parties and their lawyers settle nearly eighty percent of family law cases, twenty percent require judicial intervention. Conflicts involving children often last for years, harming relationships and absorbing a disproportionately large share of judicial resources. While mediation, collaborative law, and parent coordination programs have helped some, there is still a long way to go. As lawyers, judges, and mental health professionals seek to improve the system, hopefully, there will be a stronger movement to incorporate effectively the voices of children. All countries except the United States have enacted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires that the child’s views be taken into account. In any event, the next few years will continue to see a search for conflict-resolution options, such as differentiated case management, to triage the high-conflict cases.


1. June Med. Servs. v. Gee, 905 F.3d 787 (5th Cir. 2018), cert. granted, June Med. Servs. v. Russo, 140 S. Ct. 35 (Oct. 4, 2019). The U.S. Supreme Court reversed, sub nom., the Fifth Circuit’s ruling just as this issue of Family Law Quarterly was about to be published in 2020. See June Medical Services v. Russo, 591 U.S. ___, No. 18–1323, slip op. (June 29, 2020),

2. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstadt, 136 S. Ct. 2292 (2016).

3. Sveen v. Melin, 138 S. Ct. 1815 (2018).

4. Brackeen v. Bernhardt, 937 F.3d 406 (5th Cir. 2019), rehearing en banc granted, 942 F.3d 287 (5th Cir. Nov. 7, 2019) (No. 18-11479).

5. See Town of Castle Rock, Colo. v. Gonzales, 545 U.S. 748 (2005); DeShaney v. Winnebago Cty. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 489 U.S. 189 (1989).

6. Cook v. Hopkins, 795 F. App’x 906 (5th Cir. 2019).

7. Taglieri v. Monasky, 907 F.3d 404 (6th Cir. 2018).

8. Monasky v. Taglieri, 140 S. Ct. 719 (2020). The Monasky case will be further analyzed in next year’s Family Law Quarterly article on Hague abduction cases.

9. Abou-Haidar v. Sanin Vazquez, 945 F.3d 1208 (D.C. Cir. 2019).

10. Watts v. Watts, 935 F.3d 1138 (10th Cir. 2019).

11. Nissim v. Kirsh, 394 F. Supp. 3d 386 (S.D.N.Y. 2019).

12. Ahmed v. Ahmed, 867 F.3d 682 (6th Cir. 2017) (newborn); Vasquez v. Acevedo, 931 F.3d 519 (6th Cir. 2019) (two-year-old).

13. Saada v. Golan, 930 F.3d 533 (2d Cir. 2019).

14. Miletello v. R M R Mech., Inc., 921 F.3d 493 (5th Cir. 2019).

15. Jago v. Jago, 217 A.3d 289 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2019).

16. Baker v. Baker, 2019 WL 3977511 (Ky. Ct. App. Aug. 23, 2019) (unpublished).

17. Siegel v. Comm’r of Internal Revenue, TC Memo 2019-11, Feb. 14, 2019.

18. In re Adoption of Doe, 432 P.3d 31 (Idaho 2018).

19. C.Z. v. B.G., 278 So. 3d 1273 (Ala. Civ. App. 2018).

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

21. In re Adoption of C.S., 452 P.3d 858 (Kan. Ct. App. 2019).

22. In re Adoption of Z.K., 565 S.W.3d 524 (Ark. Ct. App. 2018).

23. In re Gabrielle G., 92 N.Y.S.3d 36 (App. Div. 2019).

24. Holloway v. Carter, 579 S.W.3d 188 (Ark. Ct. App. 2019) (stepfather’s decision to not continue to facilitate visitation after father would not sign child’s passport application did not justify father’s failure to communicate).

25. In re Marian T., 88 N.Y.S.3d 605 (App. Div. 2018).

26. In re J.W., 213 A.3d 853 (N.H. 2019).

27. S.B.P. v. R.L., 567 S.W.3d 142 (Ky. Ct. App. 2018).

28. In re Adoption of L-MHB, 431 P.3d 560 (Wyo. 2018).

29. In re J.W.B., 215 A.3d 602 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2019), rev. granted, 221 A.3d 183 (Pa. 2019) (Colorado law permits revocation of consent until date of hearing; Pennsylvania requires attack within thirty days).

30. P.H. v. C.S., 447 P.3d 110 (Utah Ct. App. 2019).

31. Muschik v. Conner-Muschik, 920 N.W.2d 215 (Minn. Ct. App. 2018).

32. Ziegler v. Natera, 279 So. 3d 1240 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2019).

33. Silverman v. Silverman, 206 A.3d 825 (Del. 2019).

34. In re Marriage of Woodrum, 115 N.E.3d 1021 (Ill. App. Ct. 2018).

35. Dejak v. Dejak, 141 N.E.3d 522 (Ohio App. Ct. 2019).

36. Larsen v. Giannakoulias, 2018 WL 5310168 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 26, 2018) (slip op.).

37. Hutchins v. Hutchins, 430 P.3d 502 (Mont. 2018).

38. Sturm v. Moyer, 243 Cal. Rptr. 3d 556 (Ct. App. 2019).

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

40. Woytas v. Greenwood Tree Experts, Inc., 206 A.3d 386 (N.J. 2019).

41. Highsmith v. Highsmith, 587 S.W.3d 771 (Tex. 2019).

42. Rea v. Rea, 822 S.E.2d 426 (N.C. Ct. App. 2018).

43. Gardner v. Gardner, 452 P.3d 1134 (Utah 2019) (departing from alimony rules and reducing duration of alimony based on finding of fault).

44. LaBorne v. LaBorne, 207 A.3d 58 (Conn. App. Ct. 2019).

45. Xu v. Zhao, 437 P.3d 411 (Utah Ct. App. 2018).

46. In re Marriage of McCoy, 567 S.W.3d 426 (Tex. App. 2018).

47. In re Marriage of Kuper, 125 N.E.3d 568 (Ill. App. Ct. 2019).

48. Binks v. Binks, No. CA2018-02-023, 2019 WL 115199 (Ohio Ct. App. Jan. 7, 2019) (slip op.). See also Horowitz v. Horowitz, 273 So. 3d 263 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2019) (cannot impute income where wife needs therapy to become employable).

49. Sweeney v. Sweeney, 826 S.E.2d 299 (S.C. 2019).

50. In re Cohen & Richards, 207 A.3d 729 (N.H. 2019).

51. Wise v. Wise, 826 S.E.2d 788 (N.C. Ct. App. 2019).

52. Connor v. Benedict, 118 N.E.3d 96 (Mass. 2019).

53. McGinnis v. McGinnis, 821 S.E.2d 555 (Va. Ct. App. 2018).

54. In re Matter of Hoyt & Hoyt, 196 A.3d 85 (N.H. 2018).

55. Fattore v. Fattore, 203 A.3d 151 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2019).

56. In re Marriage of Babin, 437 P.3d 985 (Kan. Ct. App. 2019).

57. In re Marriage of Martin, 244 Cal. Rptr. 3d 559 (Ct. App. 2019).

58. Nuttle v. Nuttle, 257 So. 3d 1084 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018). See also Hosler v. Hosler, 2018 WL 5793559 (Ohio Ct. App. Nov. 5, 2018) (slip op.) (alimony should terminate as of the date of the cohabitation, or if date cannot be determined, then as of the date of the filing of the motion to terminate).

59. Naar v. Naar, 827 S.E.2d 711 (Ga. Ct. App. 2019).

60. Bindas v. Bindas, 923 N.W.2d 803 (N.D. 2019).

61. Inman v. Inman, 260 So. 3d 555 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018).

62. In re Marriage of Wojcik, 128 N.E.3d 957 (Ill. App. Ct. 2018).

63. Burns v. Burns, 81 N.Y.S.3d 846 (App. Div. 2018).

64. Atherton v. Atherton, 208 A.3d 603 (Vt. 2018).

65. In re Marriage of T.C. & D.C., 241 Cal. Rptr. 3d 450 (Ct. App. 2018).

66. Madden v. Madden, 923 N.W.2d 688 (Minn. Ct. App. 2019).

67. Crater v. Oliver, 201 A.3d 582 (D.C. Ct. App. 2019).

68. Richardson v. Richardson, 564 S.W.3d 711 (Mo. Ct. App. 2018).

69. Sulikowski v. Sulikowski, 216 A.3d 893 (Me. 2019).

70. Thorstad v. Thorstad, 434 P.3d 165 (Colo. App. 2019).

71. Nappo v. Nappo, 205 A.3d 723 (Conn. App. Ct. 2018).

72. McAdams v. McAdams, 261 So. 3d 157 (Miss. Ct. App. 2018).

73. Moore v. Moore, 828 S.E.2d 224 (S.C. Ct. App. 2019).

74. Hosking v. Chambers, 437 P.3d 454 (Utah Ct. App. 2018).

75. Morford v. Morford, 118 N.E.3d 937 (Ohio Ct. App. 2018). See also Schaffeld v. Schaffeld, 824 S.E.2d 735 (Ga. Ct. App. 2019) (modification of alimony denied when the former wife and her partner did not continuously cohabitate and each retained their own residences). See also In re Marriage of Churchill, 126 N.E.3d 779 (Ill. App. Ct. 2019) (an intimate dating relationship does not establish the permanence of a de facto marriage necessary to terminate alimony).

76. Boreen v. Boreen, 217 A.3d 1040 (Conn. App. Ct.), appeal denied, 218 A.3d 1046 (Conn. 2019).

77. Landau v. Landau, 218 A.3d 823 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2019), cert denied.

78. Waites v. Waites, 256 So. 3d 539 (La. Ct. App. 2018).

79. Crews v. Crews, 826 S.E.2d 194 (N.C. Ct. App. 2018).

80. Brett v. Martin, 445 P.3d 568 (Wash. Ct. App. 2019).

81. Kosciusko v. Parham, 836 S.E.2d 362 (S.C. Ct. App. 2019).

82. Kirwan v. Kirwan, 197 A.3d 1000 (Conn. Ct. App. 2018).

83. Newton v. McFarlane, 103 N.Y.S.3d 445 (App. Div. 2019).

84. In re T.S., 192 A.3d 1080 (Pa. 2018).

85. Law Offices of Herssein & Herssein, P.A. v. United Servs. Auto. Ass’n, 271 So. 3d 889 (Fla. 2018).

86. Graziano v. Andzel-Graziano, 94 N.Y.S.3d 390 (App. Div. 2019).

87. In re Robinson, 209 A.3d 570 (Vt. 2019); Bd. of Prof’l Resp. v. Knudson, 444 P.3d 72 (Wyo. 2019) (attorney also had conflict of interest and had encouraged divorce client to destroy or conceal text message in divorce case).

88. In re Stein, 93 N.Y.S.3d 614 (App. Div. 2019).

89. Nichols v. Fahrenkamp, ___N.E.3d___; 2019 WL 2536886 (Ill. 2019); Dubinsky v. Reich, 201 A.3d 1153 (Conn. App. Ct. 2019) (absolute immunity).

90. Rice v. Poppe, 924 N.W.2d 344 (Neb. 2019).

91. Stender v. Blessum, 897 N.W.2d 491 (Iowa 2017).

92. Holly C. v. Tohono O’odham Nation, 452 P.3d 725 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2019).

93. People in Interest of A.B-A., 451 P.3d 1278 (Colo. App. 2019).

94. In re Interest of A.A.-F., 444 P.3d 938 (Kan. 2019). See also N.B. v. Dep’t of Children & Families, 274 So. 3d 1163 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2019).

95. In re E.W., 250 Cal. Rptr. 3d 372 (Ct. App. 2019).

96. Monique B. v. Duncan, 429 P.3d 1165 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2018). See also Kawisiiostha N. v. Arthur O., 97 N.Y.S.3d 329 (App. Div. 2019) (New York cannot take jurisdiction of a case when there is an existing order from the tribal court of the Pawnee Nation in Oklahoma).

97. In re Chance C., 85 N.Y.S.3d 310 (App. Div. 2018).

98. In re Annalise L., 96 N.YS.3d 133 (App. Div. 2019) (mother failed to get housing or to get services for substance abuse and mental illness).

99. In re M.W., 100 N.Y.S.3d 287 (App. Div. 2019).

100. In re Lilliana K., 107 N.Y.S.3d 462 (App. Div. 2019).

101. In re Aliyah T., 107 N.Y.S.3d 38 (App. Div. 2019).

102. In re Custody of K.N.L., 131 N.E.3d 130 (Ill. App. Ct. 2019).

103. In re Child of Shayla S., 207 A.3d 1207 (Me. 2019) (mother had history of impulsive and assaultive behavior and did not manage mental health issues).

104. In re C.K.C., 822 S.E.2d 741 (N.C. Ct. App. 2018).

105. In re R.J.F., 443 P.3d 387 (Mont. 2019).

106. In re Interest of A.A.-F., 444 P.3d 938 (Kan. 2019).

107. In re K. H., 444 P.3d 354 (Kan. Ct. App. 2019).

108. In re Child of Tanya C., 198 A.3d 777 (Me. 2018).

109. Plummer v. Plummer, 823 S.E.2d 258 (Ga. 2019).

110. Nemes v. Tutino, 101 N.Y.S.3d 538 (App. Div. 2019).

111. McAbee v. McAbee, 259 So. 3d 134, 139 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018).

112. S.M.J. DeLima v. Tsevi, 921 N.W.2d 89 (Neb. 2018).

113. Abercrombie v. Abercrombie, 193 So. 3d 680 (Miss. Ct. App. 2019).

114. In re J.S., 131 N.E.3d 1263 (Ill. App. Ct. 2019).

115. Matter of S.C.R., 121 N.E.3d 10 (Ohio Ct. App. 2018). See also Burds v. Skidmore, 267 So. 3d 192 (La. Ct. App. 2019) (Louisiana lacks jurisdiction where the child’s home state is Georgia, where he has resided for over six years).

116. Plaza v. Kind, No. 2-18-05, 06, 2018 WL 6787881 (Ohio Ct. App. Dec. 26, 2018) (slip op.).

117. Walz v. Walz, 822 S.E.2d 790 (N.C. Ct. App. 2019).

118. Ilayan v. Allwer, 69 V.I. 474 (2018).

119. Allenbaugh v. Hodge, 70 V.I. 881 (2019).

120. Hernandez v. Mayoral-Martinez, 2019 WL 3307898 (Mich. Ct. App. July 23, 2019).

121. Dellapenta v. Goldy, 575 S.W.3d 697 (Ky. Ct. App. 2018).

122. Bata v. Konan, 217 A.3d 774 (N.J. Super. Ct. Ch. Div. 2019).

123. In re Marriage of Jones & White, 430 P.3d 544 (Okla. Civ. App. 2018).

124. Wolter v. Fortuna, 928 N.W.2d 416 (Neb. Ct. App. 2019).

125. Agler v. Jacobs, 93 N.Y.S.3d 492 (App. Div. 2019).

126. In re Estate of Mirabella S., 138 N.E.3d 112 (Ill. App. Ct. 2018).

127. McAbee v. McAbee, 259 So. 3d 134 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018). See also Interest of D.L., 928 N.W.2d 133 (Iowa Ct. App. 2019) (juvenile case remanded for the trial court to communicate with Texas and determine if Texas had closed its prior-in-time juvenile case).

128. In re G. I. R., 447 P.3d 74 (Or. Ct. App. 2019).

129. Alger v. Jacobs, 93 N.Y.S.3d 492 (App. Div. 2019).

130. Mitchell v. Preston, 439 P.3d 718 (Wyo. 2019).

131. Dep’t of Human Servs. v. T.F., 425 P.3d 480 (Or. Ct. App. 2019); Matter of S.S., 449 P.3d 527 (Or. Ct. App. 2019).

132. R.B. v. S.M., 570 S.W.3d 9 (Ky. Ct. App. 2019). See also Interest of D.L., 2019 WL 719187 (Iowa Ct. App. Feb. 20, 2019) (unpublished).

133. In re K.L.B., 431 P.3d 883 (Kan. Ct. App. 2018).

134. Parker v. Parker, No. M2017-001503, 2019 WL 994380 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 1, 2019) (slip op.). See also Shelstad v. Shelstad, 927 N.W.2d 129 (S.D. 2019) (jurisdiction continued in South Dakota because dad continued to live there and mom did not challenge it).

135. In re Marriage of Kent, 247 Cal. Rptr. 3d 466 (Ct. App. 2019).

136. In re Guardianship of K.B., No. 2019-0126, 2019 WL 5496009 (N.H. Oct. 25, 2019).

137. See, e.g., Hebert v. Hebert, 269 So. 3d 831 (La. Ct. App. 2019).

138. See, e.g., Quevedo-Woolf v. Overholser, 820 S.E.2d 817 (N.C. Ct. App. 2018). See also P.H. v. L.W., 196 A.3d 1007 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2018); Briggs v. Briggs, 97 N.Y.S.3d 721 (App. Div. 2019).

139. Fox v. Grace, 435 P.3d 883 (Alaska 2018).

140. Wertz v. Marshall, 830 S.E.2d 491 (Ga. Ct. App. 2019).

141. Hummer v. Loftis, 276 So. 3d 215 (Ala. Civ. App. 2018).

142. Prouty v. Hughes, 433 P.3d 1196 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2018).

143. In re Parental Responsibilities Concerning W.F-L., 433 P.3d 168 (Colo. App. 2018).

144. Goode v. Sandoval, 98 N.Y.S.3d 332 (App. Div. 2019).

145. Hiles v. Hiles, 85 N.Y.S.3d 267 (App. Div. 2018).

146. Montanez v. Tompkinson, 90 N.Y.S.3d 63 (App. Div. 2018).

147. Veen v. Golovanoff, 94 N.Y.S.3d 137 (App. Div. 2019).

148. R.B. v. D.R., 238 Cal. Rptr. 3d 904 (Ct. App. 2018).

149. Interest of A.L., 823 S.E.2d 296 (Ga. Ct. App. 2019).

150. W.M. v. V.A., 241 Cal. Rptr. 3d 170 (Ct. App. 2018).

151. Hummer v. Loftis, 276 So. 3d 215 (Ala. Civ. App. 2018).

152. Qaisi v. Alaeddin, 580 S.W.3d 891 (Ky. Ct. App. 2019) (no evidence whether parties were represented by counsel or were permitted to appear at court or call or cross-examine witnesses, no evidence clarified meaning of statement that father could claim custody of children at certain age, and no evidence indicated whether court considered best interests of children).

153. Johnson v. Johnson, 940 N.W.2d 807 (Mich. Ct. App. 2019).

154. Interest of A.L.S., 829 S.E.2d 900 (Ga. Ct. App. 2019).

155. Olivieri v. Olivieri, 96 N.Y.S.3d 126 (App. Div. 2019).

156. Boyko v. Boyko, 96 N.Y.S.3d 139 (App. Div. 2019).

157. Azizova v. Suleymanov, 220 A.3d 389 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2019).

158. Wynnycky v. Kozel, 834 S.E.2d 512 (Va. Ct. App. 2019).

159. Gomez v. Gomez, 930 N.W.2d 515 (Neb. 2019).

160. Cohen v. Cohen, 96 N.Y.S.3d 312 (App. Div. 2019).

161. E.B. v. D.B., 209 A.3d 451 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2019).

162. Sheridan v. Cassidy, 273 So. 3d 783 (Miss. Ct. App. 2019).

163. Newton v. McFarlane, 103 N.Y.S.3d 445 (App. Div. 2019) (noting trial court should have determined if the mother established a change of circumstances before holding a full custody hearing).

164. John E. v. Andrea E., 445 P.3d 649 (Alaska 2019).

165. Wojciulewicz v. McCauley, 87 N.Y.S.3d 422 (App. Div. 2018).

166. Thornton v. Bosquez, 933 N.W.2d 781 (Minn. 2019).

167. Yanjun Zuo v. Yuanyuan Wang, 932 N.W.2d 360 (N.D. 2019).

168. Kelly v. Kelly, 451 P.3d 429 (Idaho 2019).

169. Bergin v. Bergin, 214 A.3d 1071 (Me. 2019).

170. Richard G.G. v. M Carolyn G.G., 94 N.Y.S.3d 644 (App. Div. 2019).

171. Herdt v. Herdt, 923 N.W.2d 530 (N.D. 2019).

172. Wright v. Kemp, 207 A.3d 1021 (Vt. 2019).

173. Little v. Little, 108 N.Y.S.3d 630 (App. Div. 2019).

174. Thunelius v. Posacki, 220 A.3d 194 (Conn. App. Ct. 2019).

175. Cheek v. Edwards, 215 A.3d 209 (D.C. App. 2019).

176. Ivan J. v. Kathryn G., 83 N.Y.S.3d 454 (App. Div. 2018).

177. Speers v. Johns, 923 N.W.2d 777 (Neb. Ct. App. 2019).

178. Ianelli v. Camino, 444 P.3d 61 (Wyo. 2019).

179. Lakeya P. v. Ajja M., 92 N.Y.S.3d 787 (App. Div. 2019).

180. Campbell v. Eary, 132 N.E.3d 413 (Ind. Ct. App. 2019).

181. Paese v. Paese, 108 N.Y.S.3d 458 (App. Div. 2019).

182. L.M.F. v. C.D.F., 2019 WL 3243989 (Ala. Civ. App. July 19, 2019).

183. Roybal v. Raulli, 832 S.E.2d 202 (N.C. Ct. App. 2019).

184. Sullivan v. Harper, 834 S.E.2d 921 (Ga. Ct. App. 2019).

185. S.M.C. v. C.A.W., 221 A.3d 1214 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2019).

186. In re N.J.C., 2019 WL 5076329 (Colo. App. 2019).

187. Ayres v. Ayres, 219 A.3d 800 (Conn. App. Ct. 2019).

188. Moody v. Demala, 2019 WL 3242426 (Ky. Ct. App. 2019).

189. In re Marriage of Izzo, 144 N.E.3d 132 (Ill. App. Ct. 2019).

190. In re Linda D. v. Theo C., 89 N.Y.S.3d 23 (App. Div. 2018) (dismissing father’s downward modification petition).

191. Schwier v. Schwier, 446 P.3d 354 (Alaska 2019).

192. Parmenter v. Nash, 87 N.Y.S.3d 759 (App. Div. 2018).

193. Collado v. Collado, 282 So. 3d 1239 (Miss. Ct. App. 2019).

194. Myers v. Lane, 283 So. 3d 337 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2019).

195. Berry v. Coulman, 440 P.3d 264 (Alaska 2019).

196. Lamancusa v. Dep’t of Rev. o/b/o Lamancusa, 250 So. 3d 812 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018).

197. Kozminski v. Kozminski, 92 N.Y.S.3d 794 (App. Div. 2019).

198. Mandile v. Deshotel, 87 N.YS.3d 766 (App. Div. 2018).

199. Knell v. Knell, 444 P.3d 1262 (Wyo. 2019).

200. Matter of Domestic P’ship of Staveland & Fisher, 433 P.3d 749 (Or. Ct. App. 2018).

201. Cummins v. Goolsby, 255 So. 3d 1257 (Miss. 2018).

202. Tomal v. Anderson, 426 P.3d 915 (Alaska 2018).

203. Muridan v. Redl, 413 P.3d 1072 (Wash. Ct. App. 2018).

204. Maio v. Clarke, 255 So. 3d 369 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018).

205. Baron v. Suissa, 90 N.Y.S.3d 220 (App. Div. 2018).

206. Weber v. Devanney, No. 28876, 2018 WL 4782161 (Ohio Ct. App. Oct. 3, 2018) (slip op.).

207. Ex Parte Rankin, 284 So. 3d 933 (Ala. Civ. App. 2019).

208. 67 S. Ct. 839 (1947).

209. Saunders v. Saunders, 445 P.3d 991 (Wyo. 2019).

210. Mendia v. Encarnacion, 275 So. 3d 158 (Ala. Civ. App. 2018).

211. Anderson v. Anderson, 266 So. 3d 1058 (Miss. Ct. App. 2018).

212. King v. Daily, No. M2017-01743, 2018 WL 6266363 (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 30, 2018) (slip op.).

213. Hoffman v. Hoffman, 270 So. 3d 1121 (Miss. Ct. App. 2018).

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

215. Gates v. O’Connor, 111 N.E.3d 215 (Ind. Ct. App. 2018).

216. Berry v. Berry, 197 A.3d 788 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2018).

217. Pack v. Pack, No. M2018-00491, 2019 WL 1934818 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 30, 2019) (slip op.).

218. Petrosnio v. Petrosnio, 98 N.Y.S.3d 308 (App. Div. 2019).

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

220. Brown v. Brown, 820 S.E.2d 384 (Va. Ct. App. 2018).

221. Phillips v. Phillips, 90 N.Y.S.3d 504 (App. Div. 2018).

222. Andersen v. Anderson, 922 N.W.2d 801 (S.D. 2019).

223. In re Marriage of Towle & Legare, 439 P.3d 327 (Kan. Ct. App. 2019).

224. T.M. v. R.M.W. 195 A.3d 152 (N.J. Super. Ct. Ch. Div. 2018).

225. E.S. v. C.D., 214 A.3d 1235 (N.J. Super. Ct. Ch. Div. 2018).

226. C.H.L. v. W.D.L., 214 A.3d 1272 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2019).

227. Melissa G. v. Raymond M., 238 Cal. Rptr. 3d 127 (Ct. App. 2018).

228. D.R. v. D.A., 103 N.E.3d 1238 (Mass. App. Ct. 2018).

229. Molinaro v. Molinaro, 245 Cal. Rptr. 3d 402 (Ct. App. 2019).

230. Fares v. Fares, 563 S.W.3d 574 (Ark. Ct. App. 2018).

231. N.B. v. F.W, 91 N.Y.S.3d 660 (App. Div. 2019).

232. Belliveau v. Whelan, 213 A.3d 617 (Me. 2019).

233. Stone v. Thompson, 833 S.E.2d 266 (S.C. 2019).

234. Id.

235. Thomas v. Thomas, 279 So. 3d 1180 (Ala. Civ. App. 2019).

236. Marriage of Hogsett & Neale, No. 17CA1484, 2018 WL 6564880 (Colo. App. Dec. 13, 2018), cert. granted (Sept. 2019).

237. Gil v. Van Nostrand, 206 A.3d 869 (D.C. Ct. App. 2019).

238. Olson v. Bennett, 271 So. 3d 781 (Miss. Ct. App. 2018).

239. Bowman v. Hutto, 269 So. 3d 596 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2019).

240. Matter of Bafumo, 98 N.Y.S.3d 341 (App. Div. 2019).

241. In re Welfare of C.N., 923 N.W.2d 325 (Minn. Ct. App. 2018).

242. Interest of J.C., 594 S.W.3d 466 (Tex. App. 2019).

243. State ex rel. CYF v. Manson, 446 P.3d 1074 (Kan. Ct. App. 2019).

244. In re Gestational Agreement, 449 P.3d 69 (Utah 2019).

245. Springer v. Springer, 277 So. 3d 727 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2019).

246. In re W.L., 441 P.3d 495 (Kan. Ct. App. 2019). The Kansas Supreme Court heard an appeal in December 2019.

247. Thomas v. Joseph, 280 So. 3d 1107 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2019).

248. Ravasizadeh v. NiakosarI, 112 N.E.3d 807 (Mass. Ct. App. 2018).

249. Gish v. Gish, 111 N.E.3d 1034 (Ind. Ct. App. 2018).

250. Dooling v. Dooling, 930 N.W.2d 481 (Neb. 2019).

251. Berens v. Berens, 818 S.E.2d 155 (N.C. Ct. App. 2018).

252. Vanderlugt v. Vanderlugt, 429 P.3d 1269 (N.M. Ct. App. 2018).

253. Gambini v. Hamilton, 440 P.3d 184 (Alaska 2019).

254. Hardy v. Hardy, 273 So. 3d 448 (La. Ct. App. 2018).

255. Castle v. Castle, 266 So. 3d 1042 (Miss. Ct. App. 2018).

256. Pettersen v. Pettersen, 269 So. 3d 466 (Miss. Ct. App. 2018).

257. Brubaker v. Brubaker, 201 A.3d 180 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2019).

258. Collins v. Collins, 586 S.W.3d 282 (Mo. Ct. App. 2019).

259. In re Marriage of Begian, 242 Cal. Rptr. 3d 692 (Cal. App. Dep’t Super. Ct. 2019).

260. Marriage of Ciprari, 242 Cal. Rptr. 3d 900 (Ct. App. 2019).

261. Marriage of Brooks, 244 Cal. Rptr. 3d 910 (Ct. App. 2019).

262. Marriage of Doubhit, 573 S.W.3d 927 (Tex. App. 2019).

263. Dixon v. Dixon, 834 S.E.2d 309 (Ga. Ct. App. 2019).

264. Phillips v. Phillips, 820 S.E.2d 158 (Ga. Ct. App. 2018).

265. Barron v. Barron, 440 P.3d 1136 (Ariz. 2019).

266. Schatz v Feliciano-Schatz, 94 N.Y.S.3d 350 (App. Div. 2019).

267. Larborne v. Larborne, 207 A.3d 58 (Conn. Ct. App. 2019).

268. Kilgore v. Kilgore, 449 P.3d 843 (Nev. 2019).

269. Gill v. Gill, 919 N.W.2d 297 (Minn. 2018).

270. LaPeter v. LaPeter, 439 P.3d 247 (Haw. Ct. App. 2019).

271. Conner v. Conner, 217 A.3d 301 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2019).

272. Gish v. Gish, 111 N.E.3d 1034 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016).

273. Downs v. Downs, 440 P.3d 294 (Alaska 2019).

274. Pettersen v. Pettersen, 269 So. 3d 466, 474 (Miss. Ct. App. 2018) (internal citations omitted).

275. Marroquin v. Marroquin, 440 P.3d 757 (Utah Ct. App. 2019).

276. Lynch v. Lynch, 91 N.Y.S.3d 214 (App. Div. 2019).

277. Callahan v. Callahan, 218 A.3d 1050 (Conn. App. Ct. 2019).

278. Hardy v. Hardy, __So. 3d__, 2019 WL 4249679 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Sept. 9, 2019).

279. Pack v. Pack, No. M2018-00491, 2019 WL 1934818 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 30, 2019) (slip op.).

280. Erwin v. Mendenhall, 433 P.3d 1090 (Alaska 2018).

281. Frias v. Frias, No. M2017-02391, 2018 WL 5435085 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 29, 2018) (slip op.).

282. Meiners v. Meiners, 438 P.3d 1260 (Wyo. 2019).

283. Coles v. McDaniel, 117 N.E.3d 573 (Ind. Ct. App. 2018).

284. Marriage of Remitz, 431 P.3d 338 (Mont. 2018).

285. Thibodeau v. Lyles, 558 S.W.3d 166 (Tex. App. 2018).

286. Marsh v. Curran, 362 F. Supp. 3d 320 (E.D. Va. 2019).

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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.