Articles Posted in Family Law

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Plaintiff and her minor child filed suit against officers and employees of the Child Protective Services (CPS) division of the Arizona Department of Economic Security (ADES), alleging violations of plaintiff's constitutuional rights to familial association. In this case, CPS removed the child from plaintiff's custody following the child's hospitalization for depression and suicidal ideation. The panel held that the allegations in the complaint were sufficient to state a claim to relief that was plausible on its face. In this case, a reasonable official in defendant's position would know that the available information did not establish reasonable cause to believe that the child was in imminent danger of attempting to commit suicide, or that it was necessary to separate her from her mother, transfer her to another hospital and continue to detain her after medical professionals at the hospital concluded she was a low suicide risk. Therefore, the district court erred in dismissing the familial association claim against defendants Koile and Pender on the basis of qualified immunity. However, the district court did not err in granting the motion to dismiss plaintiff's claim that defendants violated plaintiff and her child's due process right to be free from deliberately false statements during juvenile court proceedings. Finally, the district court did not err in dismissing claims against the remaining defendants. View "Keates v. Koile" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and her minor child filed suit against officers and employees of the Child Protective Services (CPS) division of the Arizona Department of Economic Security (ADES), alleging violations of plaintiff's constitutuional rights to familial association. In this case, CPS removed the child from plaintiff's custody following the child's hospitalization for depression and suicidal ideation. The panel held that the allegations in the complaint were sufficient to state a claim to relief that was plausible on its face. In this case, a reasonable official in defendant's position would know that the available information did not establish reasonable cause to believe that the child was in imminent danger of attempting to commit suicide, or that it was necessary to separate her from her mother, transfer her to another hospital and continue to detain her after medical professionals at the hospital concluded she was a low suicide risk. Therefore, the district court erred in dismissing the familial association claim against defendants Koile and Pender on the basis of qualified immunity. However, the district court did not err in granting the motion to dismiss plaintiff's claim that defendants violated plaintiff and her child's due process right to be free from deliberately false statements during juvenile court proceedings. Finally, the district court did not err in dismissing claims against the remaining defendants. View "Keates v. Koile" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that social workers violated their constitutional rights to family unity and companionship, and as well as their small children's rights, by removing the children from home without a warrant or court order. Plaintiffs were the subject of a criminal investigation after they tried to print nude photos of their three children. Determining that the appeal was timely, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying plaintiffs' motion to seal the summary judgment order where the district court protected the privacy of the children, Arizona law prohibits the Department of Economic Security from releasing the files, the district court order employed clinical, anatomically correct language to briefly describe the nudity depicted in the photographs, plaintiffs did not file their complaint under seal, and plaintiffs gave public interviews where they described the photos at issue. The panel reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the social workers based on qualified immunity, holding that the social workers did not have reasonable cause to believe the children were at risk of serious bodily harm or molestation when they removed the children from their home without judicial authorization. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Demaree v. Pederson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that social workers violated their constitutional rights to family unity and companionship, and as well as their small children's rights, by removing the children from home without a warrant or court order. Plaintiffs were the subject of a criminal investigation after they tried to print nude photos of their three children. Determining that the appeal was timely, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying plaintiffs' motion to seal the summary judgment order where the district court protected the privacy of the children, Arizona law prohibits the Department of Economic Security from releasing the files, the district court order employed clinical, anatomically correct language to briefly describe the nudity depicted in the photographs, plaintiffs did not file their complaint under seal, and plaintiffs gave public interviews where they described the photos at issue. The panel reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the social workers based on qualified immunity, holding that the social workers did not have reasonable cause to believe the children were at risk of serious bodily harm or molestation when they removed the children from their home without judicial authorization. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Demaree v. Pederson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's revocation-on-divorce (ROD) statute after she remained the beneficiary of her ex-husband's IRA account when he died. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court correctly determined that an Arizona state court would disregard the choice-of-law provision in the Plan and instead apply Arizona's ROD statute; the application of the ROD statute was not preempted by federal statutes and regulations governing IRAs; the district courts erred when they denied plaintiff standing; and the California district court did not abuse its discretion in transferring the case to Arizona under 28 U.S.C. 1406(a) on the grounds that it lacked personal jurisdiction over the Estate. Although it disagreed with the district court's holding that plaintiff lacked standing, the panel affirmed the dismissal of the constitutional challenge to the application of Arizona's ROD statute in the allocation of the proceeds of the ex-husband's IRA. View "Lazar v. Kroncke" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts, Family Law

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Larry and Kari Miller, both Arizona domiciliaries, owned a cooperative apartment held in each of their names, as husband and wife. First Community Bank, a judgment creditor of Larry Miller, obtained a lien against the couple's co-op. Under Arizona law, the co-op would be treated as community property. Under California law, the co-op would not constitute community property because it was not acquired by the couple while they were domiciled in California. The court held that while the co-op owned by the couple did not come within the definition of community property in California, as that term is defined in Section 760 of the California Family Code, it does come within the definition of a tenancy-in-common. The court explained that the interests of a co-tenant in such tenancies, which are presumed to be held in equal shares, are subject to the enforcement of a judgment lien. In this case, applying California's choice-of-law rules, the court held that California law governs, and that the co-op would be treated as a tenancy-in-common, as defined in Section 685 of the California Civil Code, making Larry Miller's interest in the co-op subject to enforcement of the judgment lien. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's reversal of the bankruptcy court's summary judgment for the creditor, remanding for further proceedings. View "In re Miller" on Justia Law

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WCDSS took B.W. into protective custody when she was two-days old and placed her with a foster parent without obtaining prior judicial authorization. Plaintiff, B.W.'s biological father, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the County and three social workers, alleging Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants. The court concluded that plaintiff lacked a cognizable liberty interest in his relationship with B.W. and the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of defendants because he could not prove a violation of his constitutional rights. However, the court concluded that the district court erred in deciding that the complaint did not provide adequate notice that B.W. asserted a Fourth Amendment claim on her own behalf and, therefore, defendants are not entitled to summary judgment on this basis. The court further concluded that Defendants Wilcox and Kennedy are not entitled to qualified immunity on B.W.'s Fourth Amendment claim where a reasonable juror might find that a reasonable social worker could not have determined that B.W. would be in imminent danger of serious bodily injury in the time that it would have taken to obtain a warrant. Thus, the court reversed and remanded on this issue. Because the evidence presented here creates at least an inference of an unconstitutional, unofficial custom in Washoe County, the County is not entitled to summary judgment. The court reversed and remanded as to this issue. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendant Reynolds because plaintiff has not alleged any facts suggesting that she was involved with the decision to take custody of B.W. View "Kirkpatrick v. Cnty. of Washoe" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit for declaratory and injunctive relief, challenging Idaho and Nevada statutes and enacted amendments preventing same-sex couples from marrying and refusing to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed elsewhere. As a preliminary matter, the court concluded that, in Sevcik v. Sandoval, a live case and controversy still exists even though Nevada's officials have ceased to defend their laws constitutionality where the Governor and Clerk-Recorder remain parties and continue to enforce the laws at issue. Further, the Supreme Court's summary dismissal in Baker v. Nelson is not controlling precedent that precludes the court from considering plaintiffs' claims. On the merits, the court held that the Idaho and Nevada laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they deny lesbian and gays who wish to marry persons of the same sex a right they afford to individuals who wish to marry persons of the opposite sex. The laws do not satisfy the heightened scrutiny standard the court adopted in SmithKline Beecham Corp. v. Abbott Labs. The court rejected defendants' essential contention that bans on same-sex marriage promote the welfare of children by encouraging good parenting in stable opposite-sex families. Defendants' other contentions are without merit. Because defendants failed to demonstrate that these laws further any legitimate purpose, they unjustifiably discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment in Latta v. Otter. The court reversed and remanded the judgment in Sevcik.View "Latta v. Otter" on Justia Law

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Defendant-appellee William Sloan, a citizen of the United States, and plaintiff-appellant Elaine Murphy, a citizen of Ireland, were married in California in 2000. They lived together in Mill Valley, California, and had a daughter, E.S., in 2005. In October 2009, the couple separated, with Sloan moving to a different bedroom in their house. In 2010, Murphy and Sloan enrolled E.S. in a private California preschool for the next fall. But plans changed in the spring after Murphy proposed moving to Ireland so that she (Murphy) could go back to school. Murphy and Sloan discussed the move to Ireland as a "trial period," and Sloan wrote to both the private preschool and the public school district to inform them of E.S.'s move and the temporary nature of the plan. Visitation between the parents worked for several years until Murphy took E.S. with her on a trip to visit Murphy's boyfriend in Asia. Sloan lost contact with Murphy during that time. On a regularly scheduled visit to E.S. in Ireland, Sloan grew concerned about E.S.'s absences from school when Murphy announced she would again be going to Asia with Murphy's boyfriend. Sloan took E.S. with him to the United States when he left Ireland. Murphy and Sloan agreed that Sloan told Murphy that he did not intend to return E.S. to Ireland, to which Murphy responded that if E.S. was going to live in the United States, Murphy would return to Mill Valley. Murphy took no action to compel E.S.'s return to Ireland for nearly three months, until September 2013, when she filed the action that led to this appeal. E.S. began third grade in Mill Valley in August 2013. In October 2013, the Superior Court entered a judgment dissolving the marriage, but left pending the state court action for purposes of issuing further orders regarding child custody, child support and spousal support. Murphy brought suit under the Hague Convention to compel E.S.'s return to Ireland, contending that Ireland was E.S.'s "habitual residence." The district court denied Murphy's petition after considering Murphy and Sloan's sworn declarations, testimony and documents presented at an evidentiary hearing and depositions of Murphy's boyfriend and an expert witness. It determined that the spring of 2010 was the last time that Sloan and Murphy had a shared, settled intent, which was that E.S. reside in California. The court concluded that "E.S. was, at the time of the alleged wrongful retention, and now remains, a habitual resident of the United States." The issue this case presented for the Ninth Circuit's review explored the significance of a "trial period" of residence on a child's "habitual residence" under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Murphy sought the return of E.S. to Ireland. After review, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court that E.S. was a habitual resident of the United States; "E.S.'s attachments to Ireland 'did not shift the locus of [E.S.'s] development[,] and . . . any acclimatization did not overcome the absence of a shared settled intention by the parents to abandon the United States as a habitual residence.'" View "Murphy v. Sloan" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit seeking to enjoin enforcement of Ariz. Rev. Stat. 36-449.03(E)(6), and its implementing regulation, which restricts the manner in which certain medications may be used to perform abortions. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's denial of their motion for preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs argued that, under a proper reading of its text, the Arizona law prohibits all medication abortions. The State argued that the law allows medication abortions, but only if they are performed in accordance with the on-label regimen. The court assumed without deciding that the Arizona law passes rational basis review and moved directly to the application of the undue burden test in light of Planned Parenthood of Se. Penn. v. Casey and Gonzales v. Carhart. The court concluded that plaintiffs have introduced uncontroverted evidence that the Arizona law substantially burdens women's access to abortion services, and Arizona has introduced no evidence that the law advances in any way its interest in women's health. Therefore, the court held that the district court abused its discretion when it held that plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed on the merits of their undue burden claim. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded with instructions to issue the requested preliminary injunction. View "Planned Parenthood Arizona v. Humble" on Justia Law