Family Law

Domestic relations disputes include divorce and child-custody issues, as well as matters arising after the initial decree, such as child visitation and the economic issues of maintenance and child support.

Case Summaries

Agnich v. Tyler (2016-CA-653, Fayette Circuit Court 13-CI-2538)

Same-sex parents shared equal timesharing and joint custody of their autistic twins, and had entered an agreement that they would each remain in the same school district until the children graduated from high school. The twins’ biological mother filed a Motion to relocate with the minor children to another state, and the trial court granted the motion over the non-biological mother’s objection. The Court of Appeals vacated and remanded, finding that no evidence supported the trial court’s conclusion that the children would have better resources if they moved.  The Court of Appeals determined that “a finding that the move is in LaDonna’s personal interest is not the same as a conclusion that the children’s interests will be benefited.” Read the Opinion.

May 5, 2017 Filed Under:   Litigation   Family Law

Paisley v. Talley, 2015 WL 7051307, January 29, 2016, Fayette Circuit Court, 4th Division

Applying rules of proportionate reimbursement for payments made during the course of the (unmarried relationship) joint tenancy.

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January 29, 2016 Filed Under:   Litigation   Family Law

Robinson v. Robinson, (2015-CA-915, Fayette Circuit Court, Family Division)

A divorce action concluded over a decade earlier gave rise to an effort to hold ex-husband in contempt.  The claimed contempt arose from his conveyance of marital real property during the divorce as part of the redistribution of marital assets ordered by the Divorce Decree.  Ex-wife contended by motion practice initiated in the long-closed divorce action that ex-husband failed to convey the real property in proper condition.  However, the conveyance was by quitclaim deed and no issue had been raised for over a decade.  Ex-wife raised an issue because she now claimed that her recent sale of the property for several million dollars brought about $250,000 less than it should have based upon the property condition.  Ex-husband challenged the matter by arguing that the Family Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over a property conveyance dispute that had taken place over a decade earlier which also raised statute of limitations issues.  The Family Court denied ex-husband’s challenges, further denied the motion to hold ex-husband in contempt (see Fayette Family Court Order of May 14, 2015) but awarded ex-wife approximately $3000 in fee recovery for her current efforts (see Fayette Family Court Order entered June 26, 2015).  Ex-wife appealed the denial of her requested relief of the $250,000 loss from the sales price of the real estate.  The matter remains pending before the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

Family court jurisdiction/subject matter jurisdiction/real estate dispute/divorce decree

January 1, 2016 Filed Under:   Litigation   Transactional Law   Family Law

Ruth Ann Sadler v. Barbara Lois Van Buskirk (2013-SC-000809-DG, December 17, 2015)

This case involved a conflict between the beneficiary listing on an IRA as compared to the Property Settlement Agreement terms entered into by the parties. In the divorce, Van Buskirk agreed that she would not receive an of the IRA funds upon the death of the IRA’s owner, her former husband.  However, when former husband passed away, he had not changed the IRA beneficiary form which still listed the ex-wife.  MGM argued the case of apparent first impression to the Kentucky Supreme Court in March 2015 and in its renderings in December 2015, the Court held in favor of Sadler to make clear that the Van Buskirk Property Settlement Agreement and Divorce Decree controlled over the stale IRA form.

Family law/IRA beneficiary/Divorce Decree/failure to comply with divorce decree

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December 17, 2015 Filed Under:   Litigation   Transactional Law   Family Law

Sotingeanu v. Benton, COA 2013-CA-1060 (Whitley Circuit Court, October 24, 2014)

Parents who never married presented an issue of whether a trial court’s order directing and authorizing one parent to obtain a passport for their minor child was an enforceable order.  The mother argued that the order was a modification of the custody decree without proper findings of fact and conclusions of law.  On appeal the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court that it followed the proper procedure in conjunction with the federal regulation (22 CFR 51.28) that governs issuance of a passport for a minor child.

Modification of custody decree/issuance of passport/22 CFR 51.28/CR 52/findings of fact/conclusions of law

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October 24, 2014 Filed Under:   Litigation   Transactional Law   Family Law

Dimaghani v. Showalter 2009-CA-2171 (Fayette Family Court, August 31, 2012)

This appeal involves a person’s ability to orally modify a maintenance obligation.

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August 31, 2012 Filed Under:   Family Law

Sabharwal v. Hoskins, Fayette Circuit Court 2012-CA-732 (2012)

This family court case involves recovery of a significant attorneys’ fee award.

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January 1, 2012 Filed Under:   Family Law

White v. Hawes, 2010-CA-1089/1239 (Fayette Circuit, March 4, 2011)

This case involves De Facto Custodian (caregivers other than biological parents being placed on the same footing as parents) matters.

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March 4, 2011 Filed Under:   Family Law

In Wood v Vranicar & Wood v Smith, case no. 05-CI-3127, a Mandy Jo’s Law case under KRS 411.137 tried to the Fayette Circuit Court in a dispute over the wrongful death proceeds arising from a child’s death resulting from negligent treatment at a hospital and the mother’s challenge to the father’s right to a share of the proceeds, the court found that the father had not abandoned the child during her lifetime and there was evidence of an intent to support his minor children, while his limited education and employment opportunities affected his ability to exercise visitation privileges.  The burden of proof was on the mother to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the father had abandoned the child, and the court was not moved by the prior criminal record of the father, drug-related convictions and his current status of serving time.  The parents were ordered to share in the proceeds equally under KRS 411.137.

January 9, 2008 Filed Under:   Litigation   Family Law

Holman v. Holman, 84 S.W.3d 903 (1999-S.C.-525) (Ky. 2002)

This case concerned whether the husband’s disability retirement benefits were marital or non-marital property. Reversing the lower courts and enunciating a new rule of law, the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed with the husband to find that courts are to classify disability benefits according to the nature of the wages they replace rather than whether or not they are one of the excepted categories or whether the source of the funds used to acquire the benefits was marital. The Court found that because the disability benefits replaced post-dissolution wages that the husband would have received as a firefighter, those benefits are appropriately classified as the husband’s separate non-marital property.

Family law/disability benefits/post dissolution wages/non-marital disability retirement benefits are non-marital earnings under facts of case.

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January 1, 2002 Filed Under:   Litigation   Family Law