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Diana L. Skaggs
Louisville, KY
Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Recent Activity
Divorce Law Journal has moved! We have switched to a new platform with a new web address so that we can offer you more features. Please visit http://www.louisvilledivorce.com/journal to check out the new site. Please remember to update your bookmarks and RSS feeds. You may also follow us on Twitter at @DianaLSkaggs and @emhowel2. Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
SMITH V. SMITH Husband argued Family Court erred in awarding Wife a non-marital interest in the marital residence because she did not produce a copy of the CD with the funds for the basis of the non-marital claim or any other documentation. The Court of Appeals affirms finding no error as there was testimony about the non-marital nature of the CD sufficient to establish Wife’s claim and the Brandenburg formula was properly used to calculate the division of equity due to the home’s increase in value. Husband also argued that the Family Court erred in awarding Wife spousal maintenance as... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
BOONE V.BOONE Judge recused herself from a divorce action, after a DVO hearing, but before issuing an Order dismissing the DVO. Wife then filed motions arguing Judge should be recused from the DV case as well because she had recused herself in the divorce. The Judge denied Wife’s motions. Wife appealed arguing that “the court abused its discretion in denying her Petition for a DVO” and that the Judge “should have disqualified herself with respect to the DVO.” The court first turns to the recusal issue. The Court of Appeals holds that when the Judge disqualified herself from the divorce,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
GRASCH v. GRASCH Husband, an attorney, and Wife, who managed his law firm, divorced after a thirty year marriage. After four years of litigation, the parties appealed and cross appealed numerous issues for the Appellate Court to review. Contingency Fees The first issue the Appellate Court addresses is whether contingency fee cases are marital property subject to division. On appeal, Wife argues that the Trial Court erred by finding contingency contracts were not property and granting summary judgment prematurely. The Court of Appeals holds that contingency fee cases are income-generation devices and do not give an attorney any ownership interest,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
MOORE V. MOORE Trial Court held a bifurcated DVO hearing on a severe domestic violence incident between Husband and Wife. At the first hearing, Wife testified she was afraid of Husband and gave detailed testimony about the violent incident. After contact with Husband’s family, at the second hearing, Wife read a statement asking the Trial Court to dismiss the matter. The Trial Court issued a DVO against husband. Husband appealed arguing that “the trial court abused its discretion when it failed to grant appellee’s [Wife’s] motion to voluntarily dismiss the DVO.” The rules for dismissal are set forth in CR... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
HOFFMAN V. HOFFMAN The trial court entered an Order reducing maintenance which neither party received until twelve days after the Order was entered. Wife filed a motion to alter, amend, or vacate pursuant to CR 59.05, CR 60.01 or CR 60.02. The trial court found that no fault could be attributed to Wife for the late filing of her motion, but concluded it had no discretion to consider her motion stating it had lost jurisdiction after ten days expired. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court retained jurisdiction to consider Wife’s motion as it is “well within the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
RETHERFORD V. MONDAY Mother argued on appeal that the trial court failed to make specific, independent findings of fact in a custody case. The trial court had nearly verbatim adopted the proposed findings submitted by Father. The Court of Appeals vacated the trial court judgment holding that cases involving children and families require strict compliance with CR 52.01 which requires that the court itself make findings of facts and conclusions of law. The Court of Appeals cites Callahan v. Callahan and the Supreme Court case Keifer v. Keifer as support for its decision. Keifer v. Keifer, 354 S.W.3d 123 (Ky.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
MORRIS V. MORRIS Wife filed and was granted a DVO. Husband continued making threats and Wife filed a Motion for Contempt. At the hearing on Wife’s contempt motion, the trial court extended the DVO as a contempt sanction. After Husband’s appeal of its order, concerned Wife would be left without protection, the trial court vacated the order of extension made at the contempt hearing, conducted a hearing pursuant to KRS 403.750, and granted an extension of the DVO. Husband appealed that order as well. The Court of Appeals first looks to the extension granted as a sanction at the hearing... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
We do not usually post unpublished opinions from the Ky Court of Appeals but Geralds v. Geralds is notable, giving guidance to the bench and bar about an issue that has perplexed us since Woodson v. Woodson in 2011. Geralds holds that agreements for non-modifiable maintenance are enforceable. We don't know why the opinion was designated not to be published, but hope the court changes its mind. Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
BALL V. MCGOWAN A Nevada court entered a custody order, after which child and Father moved to Kentucky. Child did not return to Nevada after moving to Kentucky. Several years later, Mother filed an action for custody in Nevada, while Father filed an action for custody in Kentucky. Pursuant to the UCCJEA, the Kentucky trial court contacted the Nevada trial court to determine whether or not Nevada retained exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the custodial matter. Nevada, as the state that made the initial custody determination, claimed exclusive continuing jurisdiction over the matter. Thus, the Kentucky trial court dismissed the Kentucky... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
LEE, ET AL. V. LEE, ET AL. Wife obtained a common law judgment for attorney fees against Husband and his company in divorce action. Subsequently, Husband formed a new company. Wife obtained an order of garnishment for the new company’s bank account. Husband filed a motion to quash, which was denied by the family court. The family court found that the new company was Husband’s “alter ego.” Husband appealed arguing the garnishment was void ab initio because it was ordered before Wife had any final judgment against the new company. The Court of Appeals affirmed the family court’s order holding... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
FEINBERG V. KEETON 2014-CA-001656-MR TO BE PUBLISHED CARTER http://opinions.kycourts.net/coa/2014-CA-001656.pdf Mother sued custodial evaluator for providing a false diagnosis regarding “parental alienation.” Trial court did not dismiss case after custodial evaluator made a claim of quasi-judicial immunity. The Court of Appeals holds that a custodial evaluator is entitled to quasi-judicial immunity and instructs the trial court to dismiss the complaint. The Court of Appeals affirms prior precedent stating “custody evaluators are entitled to quasi-judicial immunity as a means to protect the integrity of the judicial process.” Digested by Elizabeth M. Howell Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
M.L.W. V. HEART TO HOME ADOPTION AGENCY, ET AL. Mother consented to adoption of her three children. Father contested the termination of his parental rights and appealed arguing that the findings of fact were insufficient to terminate his rights. The trial court stated that termination was in the children’s best interest, but did not make any findings supporting its conclusion. Moreover, the GAL improperly provided testimony as opposed to representing the best interests of the children; the Cabinet was not included as a party to the proceeding as required by statute; and, the adoption placement agency made no efforts to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
GAMBREL v. GAMBREL Father appealed entry of a DVO, but failed to ensure the recorded hearing was included with the record on appeal. The Court of Appeals affirmed the entry of the DVO holding, pursuant to King v. Commonwealth, that without the recorded hearing they must assume the content of the hearing supported the entry of the DVO. King v. Commonwealth, 384 S.W.3d 193, 194-195 (Ky. App. 2012). The court notes that this problem occurs most often in family court cases and cautions practitioners to designate hearings to be included in the record on appeal to ensure all necessary electronic... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
HENCYE V. WHITE, ET AL. A Domestic Violence Order had been entered against Husband, after which Wife filed a post-divorce motion requesting a parenting coordinator. Extensive litigation followed, including several motions for contempt and requests for attorney fees. Despite the fact that no active custody motion was before the court, Husband pursued numerous discovery requests, many of which were focused on obtaining financial information from Wife’s boyfriend and later husband (herein “boyfriend”). Husband requested attorney fees for Wife’s and boyfriend’s failure to comply with discovery in the amount of $24,847.91. The trial court ordered Wife to pay $8,000 towards Husband’s... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
MASSIE, ET AL. V. NAVY “Questions Presented: Domestic Relations. Grandparent Visitation. Issues include the applicability of Walker v. Blair, 382 S.W.3d 862 (Ky. 2012) and the “modified best interests” standard when a child’s custodians are a paternal uncle and aunt.” Maternal grandmother filed action for visitation against child’s aunt and uncle who had possession of the child, as well as biological parents of child. The trial court denied grandmother’s request for visitation rights and she appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s ruling denying visitation and remanded holding the trial court failed to consider all of the necessary... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
MCCARTY V. FARIED “Questions Presented: Family Law. Child Support. Income Exceeding Guidelines. Whether the trial court properly included projected expenses in the child’s reasonable needs when establishing an initial child support order for a high income parent.” Father is an NBA basketball player earning a salary of $1,434,665 and an additional $197,240 in endorsements. Mother, who has primary physical custody of daughter, earns $1,050 and lives with her parents and other family members. After finding the child had reasonable needs of $4,250 per month, the trial court ordered Father to pay $4,250 a month in child support. The order was... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
CARVER V. CARVER Mother and Father, each collecting disability, had a child with Down Syndrome and significant health issues. The parties agreed to pay child support per the Kentucky guidelines, but Father never made any payments to Mother for support of the child. Via Domestic Relations Commissioner, the trial court held a hearing on child support and found Father’s income totaled $1,391 per month, while Mother’s income totaled $938 per month, thus under the guidelines Father’s obligation was $232 and Mother’s was $157. Considering Father’s ability to pay, the court reduced Father’s child support obligation to the statutory minimum of... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
CHADWICK V. FLORA, ET AL. Grandmother appealed an order finding she was not a de facto custodian of her grandchild. The order also denied her motion for custody and visitation. Grandmother’s first argument on appeal is that the trial court erred in finding she did not met the KRS 403.270(1)(a) standard for a de facto custodian. The Court of Appeals agrees with the trial court and holds Grandmother was not a de facto custodian because she was not the child’s primary caregiver. “A grandparent who co-parents a child with the natural mother or father does not make the grandparent the... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
WEDDING V. HARMON, ET AL. Father shared private co-parenting emails between the parties (Mother and Father) with teachers, other parents, and relatives. After holding a hearing, the trial court entered an injunction ordering Father not to forward others private email communications between the parties. Father appealed arguing the order unconstitutionally infringed his right to freedom of speech. The Court of Appeals applies the analysis set forth in Hill v. Petrotech Resources Corp., 325 S.W.3d 302 (Ky. 2010) and affirmed the trial court because the injunction on Father’s speech was 1) narrowly tailored, 2) made after a final adjudication, 3) prohibited... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
BROOKS V. BYRD Mother filed an appeal from a custody order while a post-judgment motion was pending. After the filing of the appeal, the trial court ruled on the post-judgment motion entering findings of facts, conclusions of law, and a custody/visitation order. Mother did not amend her notice of appeal and the post-judgment documents were not included in the certified record. Therefore, the Court of Appeals declined to enter a ruling on the merits and dismissed the appeal for noncompliance with CR 73.02(1)(e) (ii) which states “A party intending to challenge a post-judgment order listed in this rule, or a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
EVANS V.HESS, ET AL. The Kentucky Court of Appeals addressed three appeals stemming from the same Boone Family Court post-dissolution case: 2013-CA-002072-ME The first appeal filed by Father challenges the court’s subject-matter jurisdiction, custody modification, and child support modification. Father first argues the Kentucky court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because the Petition was filed in Kentucky before the Montana court determined Kentucky was the more convenient forum. Prior to the current appeal, Father filed a writ of prohibition and the Court of Appeals held Kentucky had subject-matter jurisdiction. As the “law of the case” doctrine provides that a decision of an... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
E.Y. V. CABINET FOR HEALTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, ET AL. Mother appealed trial court’s dependency adjudication arguing that as dependency was not alleged in the Petition, the trial court did not have the authority to make a finding of dependency. The mother did not raise the issue at the trial court level, so the Court of Appeals reviews under the palpable error standard, holding that a Judge has the authority to find dependency in a neglect hearing as long as the statutory requirements for dependency are met. The Court of Appeals views dependency as “a lesser-included offense... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
WELLS, ET AL. V. TOYE Foster parents appealed from a Circuit Court decision finding they lacked standing to qualify as de facto custodians. The Appellate Court affirms the Circuit Court holding that the rule set forth in Swiss applies in this case. Swiss v. Cabinet for Families and Children, 43 S.W.3d 796, 797 (Ky. App. 2001). Foster parents “may not use the de facto custodian statutes to challenge the cabinet’s custody of the child where the child was placed with the foster parents by the cabinet.” Digested by Elizabeth M. Howell Continue reading
Posted Feb 29, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal