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Diana L. Skaggs
Louisville, KY
Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Recent Activity
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 5 days ago 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
A. H. V. W.R.L. AND M.L. “Questions Presented: Family Law. Custody. Same-Sex Relationship. Step-Parent Adoption. Intervention of Right. Trial court properly allowed the child’s biological mother’s ex-partner, who allegedly co-parented the child for seven years and has a pending custody petition, to intervene in the step-parent adoption case that would have declared mother’s husband to be the child’s second legal parent.” Same sex parent (“Amy”) filed a motion to intervene in a step-father’s adoption proceeding. The Appellate Court held that Amy did not have standing to intervene in the custody case appeals. The Supreme Court accepted discretionary review and reversed... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
LINDA DAVIS V. KAREN DAVIS, ET AL. “Questions Presented: Family Law. Marital Dissolution. Property Settlement Agreements. Whether a lack of reference to a filed property settlement agreement in a dissolution decree voids such an agreement.” Husband and wife (“Linda”) entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement, but the Decree of Dissolution failed to incorporate the Agreement. A portion of the Agreement required Husband to maintain his life insurance policy with Linda as the beneficiary. Husband subsequently changed the beneficiary to his new wife (Karen) and then died. Linda and Karen filed competing claims against Husband’s life insurance. The Supreme Court starts... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
W. L.C. V. COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, CABINET FOR HEALTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, ET AL. Mother appealed the court order terminating rights to daughter after court terminated her parental rights for daughter and son, arguing the termination was not based on substantial evidence and the trial should have been delayed to allow her an opportunity to secure negative drug test results essential to her defense. The Appellate Court found that because the termination order was made pursuant to KRS 625.090, there had already been multiple continuances, and CHFS stipulated to some of the missing evidence, there simply was no grounds for... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
CRABTREE V. CRABTREE The Trial Court did not abuse its discretion in finding domestic violence occurred and was likely to occur again where husband threatened suicide multiple times in front of his wife and children. Husband argued that threatening to kill himself was insufficient to establish that he committed domestic violence and abuse. The Appellate Court cites an unpublished case that while a suicide threat is “not directed at hurting any family members, the inevitable consequence of such a statement is to terrorize the recipients of the information.” The Appellate Court held that the Trial Court’s DVO was proper and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
T.W. V. CABINET FOR HEALTH AND FAMILY SERVICES Mother and father's parental rights were terminated involuntarily by trial court after a hearing. While Mother and Father had counsel present at the hearing, counsel believed he had a conflict of interest and did not participate in the hearing. Although counsel asked to withdraw, the trial court did not allow his withdrawal and permitted the hearing to continue. The witnesses testifying on behalf of the Cabinet were not cross-examined. While counsel subsequently withdrew and separate counsel was appointed for mother and father, the witnesses were never subject to cross-examination. The Court of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
PATTERSON V. WINCHESTER A DVO was entered by Fayette Family Court preventing father from exercising his parenting time as ordered by Whitley Circuit Court, the court with jurisdiction and venue over custody and visitation. Father filed a motion in the Whitley Court case requesting sole custody and for restoration of his visitation rights. Mother responded by filing an original action in the Court of Appeals asking for writs of prohibition pursuant to CR 76.36. Mother asked for writs preventing the Whitley Court from enforcing its parenting time order, preventing the Whitley Court from “modifying, amending, vacating or reversing” the DVO,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2016 at Divorce Law Journal
SHOWN V. SHOWN In a previous related case, the Supreme Court held that Husband’s Kentucky teacher’s retirement account was considered marital property under KRS 403.190(1). Shown v. Shown, 233 S.W.3d 718 (Ky. 2007). Subsequently, the trial court divided the marital portion of husband’s retirement without consideration of the complex financial calculations used to make the distribution. In fact, the court took no proof on the issue and granted wife 50% of the marital portion of the account. Husband appealed arguing it was inequitable for the trial court to divide his teacher’s retirement account without considering its unique characteristics, primarily the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2015 at Divorce Law Journal
RUTH ANN SADLER V. BARBARA LOIS VAN BUSKIRK Husband died many years after his divorce, but despite his remarriage, he had not removed his former wife as the beneficiary of his IRA. In the parties’ marital settlement agreement they had agreed to make “no claim upon any interest owned by the other, now or in the future” of their Individual Retirement Accounts. The court looks to the holdings made in Ping, Hughes and Napier and extends their precedent to the retirement account context. The Supreme Court holds a divorce alone does not give rise to a presumption an ex-spouse is... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2015 at Divorce Law Journal
CABINET FOR HEALTH AND FAMILY SERVICES V. J.M.G., ET AL. In the midst of a lengthy dependency, neglect, and abuse, case the family court held CHFS in contempt for failure to file the required case progress report per KRS 620.240 and failure to immediately obtain a pretrial conference date per FCRPP 34(1). The Supreme Court begins its opinion with a lengthy explanation clarifying difference between civil and criminal contempt. Civil contempt is generally a sanction sought by the adverse party and subject to purgation through compliance. On the other hand, criminal contempt is imposed primarily to vindicate the authority of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2015 at Divorce Law Journal
CABINET FOR HEALTH AND FAMILY SERVICES V. S.H,; V.N.M.J.R.N., A CHILD, ET AL. The family court held a termination of parental rights hearing allowing a social worker to testify on behalf of CFHS with no prior notice to Mother. Mother objected arguing FCRPP 7(1) applied to a termination of parental rights hearing and she should have received 14 days-notice of the witnesses and their testimony. The family court ruled the termination hearing was not a permanent custody hearing and allowed the social worker to testify. Mother appealed the order terminating her parental rights arguing FCRPP 7(1) applied. The Court of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2015 at Divorce Law Journal
JONES-SWAN v. LUTHER Biological parents voluntarily placed children in Appellants' care during a custody dispute in which biological father was seeking sole custody in an action for dissolution of marriage. Father was granted sole custody of the children. Appellants returned children to biological father and filed a petition requesting status as de facto custodians under KRS 403.270. The Court of Appeals held the trial incorrectly interpreted KRS 403.270 as requiring the de facto custodians to have possession of the children when filing a petition for de facto status. A person asking for status as a de facto custodian need not... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2015 at Divorce Law Journal