Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Family Law

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Father initiated proceedings for the return of his two young daughters under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Oct. 25, 1980, T.I.A.S. No. 11,670, 1343 U.N.T.S. 89. The children resided in Mexico City until Mother took them on vacation and wrongfully detained them in the United States. The district court ordered the children returned to Mexico. The court affirmed the district court's denial of Father's post-judgment motions, concluding that the courts in Mexico, the state of the children's habitual residence, are the appropriate forum to grant relief to address his concerns. The court explained that, subject only to the confines of Mexican law, Mexican courts are free to grant Father full custody over the children and to prohibit or restrict their international travel, and there is no international legal void that requires the Convention’s intervention. In regard to Mother's challenge of the district court's denial of her motion to vacate the Original Return Order, the arrest warrant for Mother's arrest does not establish clear and convincing evidence of a grave risk of harm to the children. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Mother's motion to vacate. View "Vergara Madrigal v. Tellez" on Justia Law

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Petitioner challenges the district court's denial of his petition for return of his children to Venezuela pursuant to the Hague Convention. The court concluded that the district court applied the correct legal standard in determining the children’s habitual residence, and its shared intent determination was not clearly erroneous. In this case, the record demonstrates that respondent, the children's mother, and petitioner's last shared intent was to abandon Venezuela permanently as the children’s habitual residence. There was a meeting of their minds to abandon Venezuela as the children’s habitual residence. The court also concluded that petitioner cannot meet his burden to show that the children were wrongfully removed from Venezuela or retained in the United States because Venezuela was abandoned as the children’s habitual residence. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Delgado v. Osuna" on Justia Law

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Six-year-old D.A.P.G. was abducted from his home in Honduras and brought illegally into the United States by defendant, his mother. Plaintiff filed a petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Oct. 25, 1980, T.I.A.S. No. 11,670, seeking the return of his only child. Plaintiff filed his return petition two months outside of the one-year period of the child's wrongful removal, allowing the district court to consider the Convention’s defense that the child is well-settled in his new environment and therefore should not be returned. The district court denied plaintiff's petition, concluding that D.A.P.G. was well-settled in his current community even though defendant’s removal of D.A.P.G. from Honduras was wrongful. The court concluded that the district court erred in its legal analysis and application of the Convention’s well-settled defense. The court joined its sister circuits and held that the following factors should be considered: (1) the child’s age; (2) the stability and duration of the child’s residence in the new environment; (3) whether the child attends school or day care consistently; (4) whether the child has friends and relatives in the new area; (5) the child’s participation in community or extracurricular activities; (6) the respondent’s employment and financial stability; and (7) the immigration status of the respondent and child. The court joined the Second and Ninth Circuits in concluding that immigration status is neither dispositive nor subject to categorical rules, but instead is one relevant factor in a multifactor test. Here, the district court did not clearly err in its factual findings but erred in its legal interpretation and application of the well-settled defense. Giving due consideration to immigration status and the other relevant factors listed above, the thin evidence in the record does not demonstrate that D.A.P.G. has formed significant connections to his new environment. Accordingly, the court vacated and rendered judgment in plaintiff's favor. View "Hernandez v. Pena" on Justia Law

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Pedro Antonio Flores Rodriguez petitioned for the return of his child, A.S.F.S., from the girl's mother, Yolanda Ivonne Salgado Yanez, under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, 22 U.S.C. 9001-11. The district court denied the petition. The court concluded that the district court erred in concluding that Flores was not exercising his custody rights at the time of removal. Furthermore, the court agreed with Flores that the Convention requires an objection, not a mere preference, to being returned. In this case, the district court may have framed its questions during the private colloquy in terms of whether A.S.F.S. preferred to live in the United States, but its written findings are more ambiguous. Although the district court's findings adequately explain why A.S.F.S. is mature enough to object, they only hint at whether she did object and, if so, for what reasons. Accordingly, the court vacated this portion of the district court's order and remanded to allow the district court to engage in a new colloquy with A.S.F.S. and enter more detailed findings regarding its eventual conclusion. View "Flores Rodriguez v. Salgado Yanez" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are two same-sex couples who seek to marry in Texas or to have their marriage in another state recognized in Texas. The district court subsequently issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing any laws or regulations prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying or prohibiting the recognition of marriages between same-sex couples lawfully solemnized elsewhere. While the appeal was under submission, the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges, which held in part that there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character. Because, as both sides now agree, the injunction appealed from is correct in light of Obergefell, the preliminary injunction is affirmed and the matter remanded for entry of judgment in favor of plaintiffs. View "DeLeon v. Abbott" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, seven same-sex couples and an organization whose membership includes same-sex couples and their families, seek to marry in Louisiana or to have their marriage in another state recognized in Louisiana. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. While this appeal was under submission, the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges, which held in part that there is no lawful basis for a state to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another state on the ground of its same-sex character. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in favor of plaintiffs. View "Robicheaux v. Caldwell" on Justia Law

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Majida Salem appealed the district court’s final order of garnishment that orders her to pay the balance of the $3,500 special assessment that was part of her husband’s (defendant) criminal conviction and sentence. The court concluded that both the relevant statutes and the caselaw support the Government’s position that state-law exemptions are inapplicable when the United States is enforcing a federal criminal debt. Therefore, the Government is entitled to garnish defendant’s one-half interest in Salem’s solely managed community property, including her Brighter Horizons salary, to satisfy defendant's special assessment. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order of garnishment. View "United States v. Elashi" on Justia Law

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Texas abortion providers filed suit against the State seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the enforcement of amendments to Texas's law regulating abortions. At issue is H.B. 2’s physician admitting privileges requirement as applied to a McAllen and an El Paso abortion facility, as well as H.B. 2’s requirement that abortion facilities satisfy the standards set for ambulatory surgical centers (ASC) facially and as applied to the McAllen and El Paso abortion facilities. In regards to the facial challenge to the admitting privileges requirement, the district court erred by granting unrequested relief. In doing so, the district court also ran afoul of the holding and mandate in Abbott II, and the principles of res judicata. In regards to the facial challenge of the ASC requirement and the ASC requirement in the context of medication abortions, res judicata bars these claims. On the merits, the ASC requirements are rationally related to a legitimate state interest and have not been shown to have an improper purpose or impose an undue burden.The court affirmed in part and modified in part the district court’s injunction of the admitting privileges and ASC requirements as applied to McAllen, as follows: (1) The State is enjoined from enforcing section 135.51 - .56 and 135.41 of the ASC regulations against the abortion facility in McAllen when that facility is used to provide abortions to women residing in the Rio Grande Valley, until such time as another licensed abortion facility becomes available to provide abortions at a location nearer to the Rio Grande Valley than San Antonio; (2) The State is enjoined from enforcing the admitting privileges requirement against Dr. Lynn when he provides abortions at the abortion facility located in McAllen to women residing in the Rio Grande Valley. The remainder of the injunction as to the McAllen facility is vacated. Because H.B. 2 does not place a substantial obstacle in the path of those women seeking an abortion in the El Paso area, the court held that the district court erred in sustaining plaintiffs’ as applied challenge in El Paso. The court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ equal-protection and unlawful-delegation claims. View "Whole Woman's Health v. Lakey" on Justia Law

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The Avakians purchased a house with a loan secured by a properly executed deed of trust. The property was their homestead, where they lived together. Citibank refinanced the loan. Unlike the original loan, the refinancing note only listed Norair as the debtor. Citibank required that the Avakians execute another deed of trust. Norair signed the Citibank deed of trust. The next day, Burnette signed an identical deed of trust. The deeds of trust did not mention each other, and did not refer to signature of counterpart documents. Citibank recorded them as separate instruments. The Avakians received a loan modification. Around the time of Norair’s death, Burnette received notice that Citibank was taking steps to foreclose. After Norair’s death, Burnette sought a declaratory judgment. The district court granted summary judgment to Burnette, finding that, because the two were living together when they signed the Citibank deeds of trust, the instruments were invalid. The Fifth Circuit reversed. Under Mississippi law, a deed of trust on a homestead is void if it is not signed by both spouses, but the Mississippi Supreme Court would likely hold that a valid deed of trust is created when husband and wife contemporaneously sign separate, identical instruments. View "Avakian v. Citibank, N.A." on Justia Law

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By statute and constitutional provision, Mississippi prohibits same-sex couples from marrying and does not recognize those marriages entered into by same-sex couples which have been validly performed and are recognized elsewhere, Miss. Const. art XIV, 263A; Miss. Code. 93-1-1(2). In October 2014, two same sex couples and the Campaign for Southern Equality, a non-profit advocacy group, challenged the bans as violating the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses. The district court entered a preliminary injunction, prohibiting Mississippi from enforcing the marriage bans, but stayed the effect of its own order for 14 days to permit the state to seek a further stay of the injunction pending an appeal. The Fifth Circuit granted Mississippi’s emergency motion to stay the injunction pending appeal, noting considerations of intra-circuit uniformity and the avoidance of confusion; that it will hear arguments on bans in Texas and Louisiana within one month; and that the Supreme Court granted a similar stay while the issue of Utah’s marriage ban was pending before the Tenth Circuit. View "Campaign for So. Equal. v. Bryant" on Justia Law