Articles Posted in Family Law

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Holding that the plain language of Kan. Stat. Ann. 38-2273(a) did not provide Grandfather the right to appeal an order denying his motion to terminate the parental rights of his grandson’s parents, the Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of this appeal for lack of jurisdiction. In this child in need of care action, Grandfather was granted temporary custody of his grandchild. Grandfather then moved for termination of Mother’s and Father’s parental rights or, in the alternative, for an order appointing Grandfather as the child’s permanent custodian. The court found Father unfit and appointed Grandfather as the child’s permanent custodian but declined to terminate Father’s parental rights. Father appealed, and Grandfather cross-appealed the decision not to terminate Father’s parental rights. The court of appeals dismissed Grandfather’s cross-appeal for lack of jurisdiction under the plain language of Kan. Stat. Ann. 38-2273(a), concluding that the statute does not provide the right to appeal when a motion to terminate parental rights has been denied. The Supreme Court affirmed. The dissent disagreed, arguing that the language of section 38-2273(a) does not manifest a legislative intent to make the district court’s ruling, which might “irreparably harm the child,” incapable of correction by a higher court. View "In re T.S." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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At issue in this case was Husband’s challenge to a 1994 divorce decree that divided Husband’s military retirement benefits as marital property. In 2013, Husband filed a motion to set aside the portion of the 1994 divorce decree awarding Wife a share of his military retirement, arguing that the judgment was void because the district court lacked jurisdiction to divide his military retirement benefits pursuant to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA), 10 U.S.C. 1408 et seq. The district court judge rejected Husband’s jurisdictional argument and awarded Wife her attorney fees. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the USFSPA imposes limitations on a Kansas court’s personal jurisdiction and does not impact the underlying subject-matter jurisdiction granted by the Kansas Constitution and Kansas statutes; (2) the district court had subject-matter jurisdiction over this case in 1994; (3) the court had personal jurisdiction over Husband in 1994 based on implied consent; and (4) the district court had authority to award attorney fees. View "In re Marriage of Williams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In this appeal, Grandmother failed to meet her burden of establishing that she was an interested party in a stepparent adoption proceeding relating to her grandson. The district court concluded that neither the law nor other circumstances conferred standing upon Grandmother to participate in the stepparent adoption because she was not an interested party. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed without reaching the merits of Grandmother’s claim that she was a parent by virtue of certain agreements and court orders entered in a separate grandparent visitation case, holding that Grandmother failed to establish that she was an interested party under the Kansas Adoption and Relinquishment Act and the Probate Code. View "In re Adoption of T.M.M.H." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In this appeal, Grandmother failed to meet her burden of establishing that she was an interested party in a stepparent adoption proceeding relating to her grandson. The district court concluded that neither the law nor other circumstances conferred standing upon Grandmother to participate in the stepparent adoption because she was not an interested party. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed without reaching the merits of Grandmother’s claim that she was a parent by virtue of certain agreements and court orders entered in a separate grandparent visitation case, holding that Grandmother failed to establish that she was an interested party under the Kansas Adoption and Relinquishment Act and the Probate Code. View "In re Adoption of T.M.M.H." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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At issue in this case was the question of what the legislature intended by providing for the creation of a permanent father and child relationship in one statute but only a presumptive relationship in another. Here, Alonzo Smith, who signed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity (VAP), sought its untimely revocation. The district court concluded that the VAP was legally binding under Kan. Stat. Ann. 23-2204 and established Smith as the legal father. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) section 23-2204 does impose a one-year limitation on a revocation action; (2) Kan. Stat. Ann. 23-2208(a)(4) recognizes that a VAP creates a presumption of paternity that can be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence; and (3) Smith successfully rebutted the presumption of paternity that statutorily arose from the VAP. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, holding (1) the VAP at issue in this case was valid and enforceable; (2) individuals who sign a VAP are bound by the rights and responsibilities delineated in Kan. Stat. Ann. 23-2204, including the creation of a permanent father and child relationship, if the VAP is not revoked by court order within one year of the child’s birth; and (3) as applied to this case, the VAP established a permanent father and child relationship. View "State ex rel. Secretary of Department for Children and Families v. Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Carol Einsel filed a petition for partition against Rodney Einsel, her ex-husband. The ownership interests at stake involved the Einsel family ranch, which consisted mostly of land and mineral interests. Carol’s claim derived from a journal entry of divorce in the parties’ earlier divorce proceedings. The judge had awarded Carol forty percent of Rodney’s remainder interest in the inheritance he received during the marriage. Before the partition court, the parties primarily argued over whether Carol’s award was an interest in a money judgment or an interest in real property. The partition court found that Carol’s interest in Rodney’s inheritance was $27,521 and granted her a judgment in this amount. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the award was an interest in real property - not a money judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals reached the correct conclusion regarding the nature of Carol’s award - an interest in real property. Remanded. View "In re Estate of Einsel" on Justia Law

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When Gregory Papineau and Jeri Stephenson divorced, Papineau was ordered to pay monthly child support. In 2010, Papineau became disabled and applied for social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits for himself and his dependents. In 2012, the Social Security Administration began providing those benefits. Papineau subsequently filed a motion to modify his child support obligation, asking that he be reimbursed or receive a credit for past child-support payments. Specifically, Papineau argued that his children received duplicative payments, both of which satisfied his child support obligations for the period between his application for and the approval of the SSDI derivative benefits. Both the district court and the Court of Appeals determined that Papineau was not entitled to a credit, a reimbursement, or an offset. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a district court may grant a credit to a child-support obligor who is current on child support when a lump-sum payment of accumulated SSDI derivative benefits duplicates the obligor’s support payment, and that credit may be used to offset other support obligations imposed on the obligor; (2) alternatively, a district court may fashion some other remedy permitted under applicable federal statutes and regulations; and (3) because the district court did not recognize the extent of its discretionary powers, this case must be remanded. View "In re Marriage of Stephenson & Papineau" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) claimed that Father owed $173,654 in child support back payments and was granted an income withholding order in that amount. SRS sought to enforce the district court’s order by registering it in Texas, where Father was living. The Texas Attorney General subsequently filed a notice of registration of a foreign support order and sought its enforcement, requesting judgment in the amount of $133,110 - representing the principal child support as of April 1, 2011 - with no accrued interest. Father paid the judgment in its entirety. Back in Kansas, Mother sought an order determining the amount of interest owed on the arrearages as of October 14, 2011. The district court concluded that Mother’s claim for interest was barred by the res judicata effect of the Texas judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Mother and the Texas Attorney General were not the “same party” for res judicata purposes, and therefore, Mother’s claims were not barred by the doctrine of res judicata; and (2) Mother was entitled to appellate attorney fees and costs. Remanded to the district court for a calculation of the postjudgment interest owed on the child support arrearages. View "Cain v. Jacox" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Plaintiff sued Defendant, seeking determinations related to paternity and custody and an equitable distribution of the parties’ jointly acquired assets. The district court referred the matter to a special master. The court adopted the master’s findings and conclusions and entered judgment on the master’s report without hearing evidence. The judgment included an order that Defendant pay Plaintiff a sum representing the minor child’s unreimbursed medical expenses. The court later entered additional orders, including its decision to make its own determination regarding the unreimbursed medical expenses. Defendant appealed, raising several allegations of error. The court of appeals affirmed and granted Plaintiff’s request for appellate costs and attorney fees. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals and dismissed the appeal, holding that the district court did not enter a final, appealable order, having left unresolved the unreimbursed medical expenses issue, and therefore, the court of appeals lacked jurisdiction when it affirmed the district court and entered an attorney fees award. View "Kaelter v. Sokol" on Justia Law

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Mother was the biological mother of Jocelyn and Justine. Father was the biological father of Justine and acted as Jocelyn’s father from the time she was born. After the parties separated, Father filed a petition requesting residential custody of Justine and a continuing relationship with Jocelyn. After a trial, the district court granted residential custody of Justine to Zachary and granted residential custody of Jocelyn to Justine. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court abused its discretion by basing its decision to award residential custody of Justine to Zachary on a misapplication of Kan. Stat. Ann. 23-3207(b). Remanded. View "Cheney v. Poore" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law