Articles Posted in Family Law

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Miller and Jenkins entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2000. In 2002, Miller gave birth to IMJ. Miller took IMJ to Virginia. Jenkins remained in Vermont. In 2003, a Vermont court dissolved the union and awarded custody to Miller. Miller repeatedly refused to respect Jenkins’ visitation rights. Following several contempt citations, the Vermont court awarded sole custody to Jenkins in 2009. While the litigation was pending, Miller kidnapped IMJ, fleeing to Nicaragua. The government issued subpoenas under the Stored Communications Act 18 U.S.C. 2703(c)(2), rather than a court‐approved warrant, to a cell phone company, seeking billing records spanning 28 months and other information. As confirmed by Zodhiates’ cell phone and email records, which were introduced at trial, Zodhiates drove Miller and IMJ from Virginia to Buffalo, where they crossed into Ontario. Miller remains a fugitive. Zodhiates coordinated delivery of Miller's personal items to Nicaragua. Zodhiates was convicted of conspiring with and aiding and abetting Miller to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights, International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act, 18 U.S.C. 371, 1204, and 2. The district court declined to suppress inculpatory location information garnered from his cell phone records. The Second Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments under the Fourth Amendment and that the charge to the jury, referring to Vermont family law, denied Zodhiates a fair trial. The court noted that in 2011 a warrant was not required for cell records so the government acted in good faith. View "United States v. Zodhiates" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved an intra‐family dispute over who owns a residential house. The Second Circuit held that the district court properly granted defendants' motion for summary judgment on the pleadings with respect to plaintiffs' adverse possession claim where the affirmative complaint did not contain any affirmative facts that plaintiffs did anything that constituted a distinct assertion of a right hostile to defendants. However, with regard to the constructive trust claim, the court held that there may be a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether an implied promise was made and as to whether defendants' refusal to honor this promise unjustly enriched them. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Jaffer v. Hirji" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a petition pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction seeking the return of three children from New York to Thailand. The court held that the Convention does not enter into force until a ratifying state accepts an acceding state's accession and that Article 35 limits the Convention's application to removals and retentions taking place after the Convention has entered into force between the two states involved. Therefore, because the Convention did not enter into force between the United States and Thailand until April 1, 2016, after the allegedly wrongful retention of the children in New York on October 7, 2015, the Convention does not apply to petitioner's claim and the district court did not err in dismissing his petition. View "Marks v. Hochhauser" on Justia Law

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New York's intestacy law, as it existed in 2013 at the time of the agency's final determination, did not permit children conceived posthumously to inherit via intestacy. In this case, plaintiff had conceived twins via in vitro fertilization eleven years after her husband, the donor spouse, died. Plaintiff filed applications for child's survivors' benefits, based on her husband's earnings history, with the Social Security Administration. The Second Circuit held that, under the applicable provisions of New York's Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) in effect at and prior to the time of the agency's final decision, the twins were not entitled to inherit from the decedent in intestacy. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of benefits. View "MacNeil v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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The notice of termination itself constitutes an adverse employment action, even when the employer later rescinds the termination. The Second Circuit held that plaintiff's notice of termination in this case was itself an adverse employment action, despite its later revocation; likewise, the court saw no reason to construe plaintiff's Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claim differently from her Title VII claim with respect to whether the rescission of a notice of termination given to a pregnant employee establishes as a matter of law that the notice may not constitute an adverse employment action; the facts alleged were insufficient to establish constructive discharge nor a hostile work environment; plaintiff's retaliation claim was properly dismissed; and because plaintiff did state a plausible claim of discriminatory termination, and interference with her FMLA rights, the district court should reconsider on remand its decision to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state and city law claims. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and remanded, and affirmed in all other respects. View "Shultz v. Shearith" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's judgment in favor of defendants, agreeing with plaintiff that the district court wrongly instructed the jury that "but for" causation applied to Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claims. The court held that FMLA retaliation claims of the sort plaintiff brought here were grounded in 29 U.S.C. 2615(a)(1) and a "motivating factor" causation standard applied to those claims. The court also held that the district court exceeded the bounds of its discretion in admitting and permitting the adverse inferences to be drawn in this case. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Woods v. START Treatment & Recovery Centers" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the Hospital under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq., alleging that the Hospital terminated her illegally for taking medical leave to which she was entitled under the terms of the Act. The DC Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to the hospital, holding that the district court erred in determining that plaintiff cannot, as a matter of law, establish a "serious health condition" under 14 C.F.R. 825.115(e)(2), but correctly concluded that the Hospital was not estopped from challenging whether plaintiff established the elements of her FMLA interference claim. Because the Hospital failed to show entitlement to summary judgment on plaintiff's right to leave under section 825.115(e)(2), the Hospital's entitlement to summary judgment turns on the adequacy of plaintiff's notice. Therefore, the court remanded for the district court to make this determination. View "Pollard v. The New York Methodist Hospital" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq., against his employer, MCU, after he was denied leave to take care of his seriously ill grandfather who, in loco parentis, had raised him as a child. The district court granted MCU's motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. The district court reasoned that, although the FMLA provides that an eligible employee may be entitled to take leave in order to care for a person with whom he had an in loco parentis relationship as a child, plaintiff had informed MCU merely that he needed to take care of his grandfather without informing MCU of the in loco parentis relationship. The court concluded that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to MCU on the basis that plaintiff had failed to provide the necessary information, given MCU's denial of plaintiff's request without requesting additional information; vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings; rejected MCU's contention that the district court's dismissal of the complaint can be upheld on other grounds; and rejected plaintiff's request that the court order the grant of partial summary judgment on the issue of liability in his favor. View "Coutard v. Municipal Credit Union" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against MTBank, alleging violations of various state and federal statues by not allowing her to work remotely when she became pregnant. The magistrate judge ruled as a matter of law against plaintiff on a number of claims and the jury found for MTBank on the remaining claims. The court held that the district court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of the reinstatement offer because the offer was, as a matter of law, not unconditional; the district court erred in sua sponte disqualifying the attorneys for both parties, because the disqualification depended on the erroneous admission of evidence relating to the reinstatement offer; the jury instructions were not erroneous; and the court lacked jurisdiction over plaintiff's challenge to the district court's New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), N.Y. Exec. Law 290 et seq., ruling. Accordingly, the court vacated in part in regard to the jury's verdict and the disqualification order, dismissed in part in regard to claims under the NYSHRL, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Jia Sheng v. MTBank Corp." on Justia Law

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The district court granted petitioner's request for the return of his son, the son whose custody he and respondent shared in Singapore, and the court affirmed. In this appeal, petitioner seeks an order directing respondent to pay the necessary expenses related to his successful petition under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), 22 U.S.C. 9007(b)(3). The district court ordered respondent to pay petitioner $283,066.62. The court concluded that the record demonstrated that petitioner committed intimate partner violence against respondent and respondent did not commit any violence against petitioner. Although the district court was correct in considering this unilateral intimate partner violence as a relevant equitable factor, the district court erred in its assessment of the relationship between the intimate partner violence and respondent's decision to remove the child from the country of habitual residence and thus erred in its weighing of the equitable factors. Because respondent established that petitioner had committed multiple, unilateral acts of intimate partner violence against her, and that her removal of the child from the habitual country was related to that violence, an award of expenses to petitioner, given the absence of countervailing equitable factors, is clearly inappropriate. Accordingly, the court reversed and vacated. View "Souratgar v. Fair" on Justia Law