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    Family Law Legal Research Blog

    Sandra L. Thomas

    Recent Posts

    FAMILY LAW: Custody Is Determined in Child's Home State, Not State Where Divorce Is Filed

    Posted by Sandra L. Thomas on Mon, Mar 6, 2017 @ 16:03 PM

    The Lawletter Vol 42 No 2

    Sandra Thomas, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

          Another case has confirmed the primacy of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act ("UCCJEA") over local jurisdictional rules that conflict with that statutory scheme. The Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama has reversed a trial court order that held the trial court had subject-matter jurisdiction over a child custody petition that was filed in Alabama by the child's father at the time the father filed a petition for divorce from the child's mother. Ex parte Holloway, No. 2150821, 2016 WL 4493653 (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 26, 2016).

         The parents were married in Alabama in October 2014 and they separated in June 2015. The father filed a complaint for divorce October 23, 2015 that included a request for custody of the parties' minor son, who was born September 20, 2015. The father alleged that the mother had abandoned the marriage and had moved to Mississippi to live with her mother. Alabama law provides: "Upon granting a divorce, the court may give the custody and education of the children of the marriage to either father or mother, as may seem right and proper." Ala. Code § 30-3-1.

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    Topics: family law, custody, child's home state, UCCJEA

    FAMILY LAW: Enforcing a Child Support Obligation Through Constructive Trust

    Posted by Sandra L. Thomas on Tue, Oct 4, 2016 @ 13:10 PM

    The Lawletter Vol 41 No 8

    Sandra Thomas, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

          The Supreme Court of Montana imposed a constructive trust on $2.3 million of proceeds of two insurance policies in a case in which the husband ("Husband") in a divorce proceeding changed the beneficiaries on the policies in violation of a restraining order issued by the court while the divorce was pending. Volk v. Goeser, 2016 MT 61, 382 Mont. 382, 367 P.3d 378.

         Husband and wife ("Wife") were married in 1996, and they had a son, RBV, in 2000. In June 2010, Husband filed a petition for dissolution; that same day the trial court issued a restraining order under which the parties were not allowed to transfer assets while the divorce was pending. In December 2011, the parties entered into a settlement agreement in which, among other things, Husband agreed that "'[h]usband shall execute a will naming his son as beneficiary of his estate, giving all of his assets to his son.'" Id. ¶ 5, 382 Mont. at 384, 367 P.3d at 381.

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    Topics: family law, Sandra Thomas, The Lawletter Vol 41 No 8, child support obligation, constructive trust

    FAMILY LAW: Court Obtains Jurisdiction Under UCCJEA When Action Is Filed, and It Can Exercise Jurisdiction Even After All Parties Leave State

    Posted by Sandra L. Thomas on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 @ 11:02 AM

    The Lawletter Vol 41 No 1

    Sandra Thomas, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

         Resolving a question that is not expressly answered by the language of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction And Enforcement Act ("UCCJEA"), the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Upson v. Wallace, 3 A.3d 1148 (D.C. 2010), held that if a trial court had home-state jurisdiction to issue an initial custody determination under the UCCJEA at the time the action was filed, then the court could still exercise that jurisdiction even after all parties had left the state.

         In Upson, the child, Georgiana, was born in Virginia in May 2004. On March 2, 2005, the child's father, Wallace, filed for custody of Georgiana in Alexandria, Virginia. In April 2005, the child's mother, Upson, relocated with the child from Virginia to the District of Columbia.

         Upson subsequently attempted to litigate custody in the District of Columbia, but Wallace's motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction was granted. Upson challenged the dismissal and ultimately was able to bring before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals the question of the validity of the custody order that had been entered by the Virginia court after all parties had left Virginia.

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    Topics: family law, Sandra L. Thomas, Upson v. Wallace, jurisdiction of initial custody

    FAMILY LAW: Laws of State of Domicile Govern Divorce of Couple Married in Another State

    Posted by Sandra L. Thomas on Mon, May 11, 2015 @ 16:05 PM

    The Lawletter Vol 40 No 3

    Sandra Thomas, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

         In the first decision in the nation to address the issue, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has held that an Alabama trial court was under no obligation to enforce the covenant-marriage contract entered into between the parties at the time of their marriage in Louisiana where the parties subsequently moved to Alabama and sought a divorce in the Alabama court. Blackburn v. Blackburn, No. 2131043, 2015 WL 1608431 (Ala. Civ. App. Apr. 10, 2015) (not yet released for publication).

         In January 2013, Mr. Blackburn filed a complaint for divorce in an Alabama trial court, alleging as grounds incompatibility of temperament and an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Several days later, Mrs. Blackburn filed an answer and counterclaim also seeking a divorce and also alleging incompatibility of temperament, and further alleging that the husband had committed acts of domestic violence.

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    Topics: family law, domiciliary state, subject-matter jurisdiction

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