Articles Posted in Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in this divorce case awarding Husband his interest in an LLC, requiring Husband to pay twenty-five percent of Wife’s student-loan debt, and ordering Husband to make a cash-equalization payment. Husband appealed the judgment, arguing that the circuit court erred in its division of the marital property. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in valuing Husband’s interest in an LLC; (2) did not abuse its discretion in awarding Wife one-half the value of the marital assets; and (3) did not abuse its discretion in making Husband responsible for twenty-five percent of Wife’s student-loan debt. View "Richarz v. Richarz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Mother’s motion for a change of custody in which she sought primary physical custody of the parties’ son. When Mother and Father divorced, they agreed to share legal custody of their son and daughter, with Father having primary physical custody of the son (Son), and Mother having primary physical custody of the daughter. Mother later filed a motion for temporary physical custody of Son after he suffered an asthmatic episode, arguing that Son’s health was imperiled by Father’s long-standing smoking habit. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in determining that Son’s interests were better served by remaining in Father’s physical custody; and (2) did not abuse its discretion by ordering Mother to pay Father’s attorney fees. View "Moulton v. Moulton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Mother and Stepfather’s (together, Petitioners) petition to have Stepfather adopt Mother’s child without the biological father’s (Father) consent. Petitioners contended that Father’s consent was unnecessary because, among other things, Father had abandoned the child. The circuit court concluded that Petitioners failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that that Father had abandoned the child. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the circuit court did not err in determining that Petitioners failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that Father had given up or totally deserted the child. View "In re Adoption of J.Q.P." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s issuance of protection orders in favor of Abigail Parker against both her husband Jordan Parker and Jordan’s sister, Jasmyn Bauer. The court (1) the court did not err in granting a protection order against Jordan on the grounds of domestic abuse because the court’s findings supported that Jordan knowingly and willfully engaged in a series of acts that repeatedly harassed Abigail; (2) the court’s findings supported the issuance of a protection order entered against Jasmyn; and (3) none of the parties was entitled to attorneys’ fees pursuant to S.D. Codified Laws 26A-87.3. View "Parker v. Parker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s termination of her parental rights to Child. Specifically, the court held (1) the circuit court’s interpretation of S.D. Codified Laws 16-22-6 did not result in the court relying on improper evidence, and the court did not err when it took judicial notice of two previous abuse and neglect files and Mother’s previous criminal files; and (2) the circuit court did not clearly err in determining that Mother could only remain sober in an institution such as the South Dakota State Women’s Prison and did not err in determining that termination of parental rights was the lease restrictive alternative. View "In re A.K.A.-C." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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After discovering methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in the home of Mother, Mother’s three children were removed from the home. The State initiated abuse and neglect proceedings against Mother, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (Tribe). More than one year later, the Tribe and Mother submitted motions to transfer the proceedings to the Tribe’s jurisdiction. The circuit court denied the motions. Following a final dispositional hearing, the court terminated Mother’s parental rights. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Mother was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the question of whether good cause existed to deny the motions to transfer jurisdiction to the Tribe, and therefore, the circuit court abused its discretion by denying the motions. View "In re Interest of A.O." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s imposition of a three-year protection order barring Gregory Begnaud from all contact with his two minor children, concluding that the order was not statutorily authorized because (1) the petition filed by the children’s mother failed to meet the requirements of S.D. Codified Laws 25-10-3; and (2) the circuit court failed to find that the children were victims of domestic abuse as required under S.D. Codified Laws 25-10-5, and even if the court had made such a finding, it would have been unsupported by the record. Further, the Court held that the order was overbroad and an abuse of discretion. View "Purcell v. Begnaud" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Prior to their marriage in 1993, Wife and Husband entered into a pre-marriage agreement (PMA) listing their assets and liabilities. In 2012, Husband sued Wife for divorce in Minnesota. The Minnesota court determined that Butte County, South Dakota, was the proper venue to determine the issues regarding the validity and enforceability of the parties’ PMA. Wife filed a declaratory judgment action against Donald in Butte County requesting a judgment declaring the PMA valid and enforceable and asking the court to construe the rights and interests of the parties under the PMA. The circuit court declared the PMA valid and enforceable and interpreted the PMA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err when it interpreted the PMA to permit tracing of earnings or property through the joint marital account and applied the marital loan concept; (2) the circuit court did not err when it adopted Wife’s expert’s report; and (3) Wife was not entitled to appellate attorney’s fees. View "Charlson v. Charlson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts, Family Law

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After Wife sought a divorce from Husband, the parties entered into a stipulation and agreement to divide their property and debt. The agreement awarded the martial home to Husband, divided responsibility for the two mortgages on the home, and declared that the home be sold, with the proceeds from the sale to pay off any sum remaining on the mortgages. Husband later sold the home and used the sale proceeds to pay off both mortgages. Husband requested reimbursement from Wife for the mortgage debt assigned to her, but Wife refused to reimburse him. Husband filed a motion for order to show cause asking the circuit court to hold Wife in contempt and enter a judgment against her for the amount he paid on her mortgage. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err by finding that the agreement was unambiguous and did not err in its interpretation of the agreement; (2) the plain language of the agreement did not require Wife to reimburse Husband; and (3) the circuit court did not err in determining that Husband’s request for an order requiring repaying from Wife would result in an impermissible modification of a final property settlement. View "Coffey v. Coffey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Jieun Choi and Jason Vandyke were married for about a year and a half before divorcing on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. A stipulation and settlement agreement was incorporated into the divorce decree that provided for alimony in the form of nineteen payments of $1,500 a month to Choi. After making fourteen of the nineteen payments and upon discovering that Choi had been employed full-time by Black Hills State University, Vandyke sought termination of alimony. The trial court ordered termination of alimony, finding that the payments were excessive given Choi’s financial circumstances and ability to work. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, in light of the law and circumstances, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in terminating alimony. View "Vandyke v. Choi" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law