Articles Posted in Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court modifying the visitation awarded to Father and denying Mother’s petition to modify the amount Father pays in child support. The Court held (1) under the circumstances of this case, the circuit court did not err in finding that there had been a material change in circumstances that justified modifying Father’s visitation with the parties’ child; and (2) the circuit court did not err in deciding not to include the increase in the value of Father’s stock portfolio in the calculation of his child-support obligation and deciding not to impute additional income to Father. View "Dare v. Frost" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court modifying the visitation awarded to Father and denying Mother’s petition to modify the amount Father pays in child support. The Court held (1) under the circumstances of this case, the circuit court did not err in finding that there had been a material change in circumstances that justified modifying Father’s visitation with the parties’ child; and (2) the circuit court did not err in deciding not to include the increase in the value of Father’s stock portfolio in the calculation of his child-support obligation and deciding not to impute additional income to Father. View "Dare v. Frost" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Appellant filed a notice of appeal from a circuit court’s grant of the Office of Child Support Enforcement’s motion to modify support and for judgment for past due child support. The court of appeals reversed the judgment. The Supreme Court granted Appellant’s petition for review, but Appellant then failed timely to file a brief for the court’s consideration. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals’ decision, dismissed the appeal, and reinstated the decision of the circuit court, holding that because Appellant failed to timely file a brief for the court’s consideration, there was no argument for reversal on the merits. View "Harley v. Dempster" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order granting Mother’s petition to relocate with the parties’ minor son, holding that the circuit court erred in applying the presumption in favor of relocation as set out in Hollandsworth v. Knyzewski, 109 S.W.3d 653 (Ark. 2003). In so holding, the Supreme Court clarified that the Hollandsworth presumption should be applied only when the parent seeking to relocate is not just labeled the “primary” custodian in the divorce decree but also spends significantly more time with the child than the other parent. The court proceeded to hold that the analysis set forth in Singletary v. Singletary, 431 S.W.3d 234 (Ark. 2013), governed Mother’s relocation petition rather than Hollandsworth and remanded for the lower court to apply this analysis to the facts in this case. View "Cooper v. Kalkwarf" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In Pavan v. Smith, 137 S. Ct. 2075 (2017), the United States Supreme Court held that Arkansas’s birth-certificate law, Ark. Code Ann. 20-18-401, is unconstitutional to the extent it treats similarly-situated same-sex couples differently from opposite-sex couples. The Court thus reversed the judgment of the Arkansas Supreme Court and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion of the Court. The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court, which “impermissibly rewrote the statutory scheme” and remanded for entry of a final judgment consistent with the mandate of the United States Supreme Court. On remand, the circuit court should award such relief as necessary to ensure that same-sex spouses are afforded the same right as opposite-sex spouses to be listed on a child’s birth certificate in Arkansas, as required under Pavan v. Smith. View "Smith v. Pavan" on Justia Law

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The mandatory termination language in Ark. Code Ann. 9-12-312(a)(2)(D) does not apply retroactively to automatically terminate alimony awards entered before the 2013 amendment. Pursuant to a 2011 divorce decree, the court awarded Debra Mason alimony. In 2014, Debra filed a motion to modify the alimony award. Charles Mason responded that, based on a 2013 amendment to Ark. Code Ann. 9-12-312(a)(2), his obligation to pay alimony terminated when Debra began living with her boyfriend. The circuit court concluded (1) Charles's obligation to pay alimony ceased as a matter of law because Debra and her boyfriend cohabited full-time, and (2) applying the statute to the divorce decree would not have a retroactive effect. The Supreme Court answered a question certified to it by the court of appeals and remanded the case to the court of appeals, holding that the statute does not automatically terminate alimony awards entered before August 6, 2013. View "Mason v. Mason" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Upon the divorce of Thomas Jones and Kimberly Miller the circuit court entered a final order awarding Kimberly a $20,687.75 judgment against Thomas. The circuit court issued a writ of execution directing the sheriff to take possession and sell four vehicles owned by Thomas to satisfy Thomas’s indebtedness to Kimberly. Ollye Mae Jones, who was not married to Thomas at the time, unsuccessfully moved to intervene in the action. Ollye Mae and Thomas later filed a petition for replevin seeking possession of the four vehicles, asserting that the vehicles had been wrongfully taken from them. The circuit court dismissed the replevin action, concluding that the petition was barred by the doctrines of law of the case, res judicata, and collateral estoppel; that Ollye Mae and Thomas lacked standing; and that the petition failed to state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted. The Supreme Court summarily affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal of the replevin action because Ollye Mae and Thomas did not challenge all the grounds that the circuit court relied on in making its decision. View "Jones v. Miller" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order of adoption that granted Destiny Rodgers’ request to adopt Reanna Rodgers’ four minor children. Destiny was the current spouse of Reanna’s ex-husband. The court held that the circuit court did not err by finding that Reanna’s consent to the adoption was not required because she had significantly and unjustifiably failed to communicate with the children for a period of at least one year or to provide for their care and support as required by law or court order. The dissent argued that Reanna’s failure to communicate with her children and her failure to pay child support was justifiable. View "Rodgers v. Rodgers" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order terminating Father’s parental rights to his twin children. The circuit court found that Father was an unfit parent based on two statutory grounds under Ark. Code Ann. 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(i)(b) and (b)(3)(B)(ii)(a). On appeal, Father argued that the circuit court erred in both findings because the statute requires that the children have lived out of the custody of the “parent” for twelve months. The Supreme Court agreed with Father, holding that the circuit court erred in terminating Father’s parental rights because the record did not demonstrate that Father’s legal status as the biological parent was established to apply the twelve-month time period described in the statute. View "Earls v. Arkansas Department of Human Services" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Mother and Father divorced in 2005. In 2012, the circuit court memorialized an agreement by the parties raising Father’s child-support obligation to $6,005 per month. In 2014, Father filed a petition to reduce his child support payments on the grounds that there had been a material change in circumstances. In 2014, the circuit court entered an order reducing Father’s monthly child support obligation to $2,108 per month. The new support obligation was made retroactive, and the circuit court ordered amortization of the $27,279 overpayment by a further $1,000 per month reduction in Father’s payments. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in finding that Father met his burden of proving that there had been a material change of circumstances. View "Troutman v. Troutman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law