U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Family Law Category

Custodial parents may relocate their children to a new state without a court order, the Supreme Court of North Dakota has ruled, so long as the noncustodial parent has "moved" out of the state. The noncustodial parent does not need to have intended to establish residence in a new state for his or her relocation to count as a "move" under North Dakota law.

The case, Eggers v. Eggers, involves a mother with primary custody of three minor children who moved them from North Dakota to Ohio to North Carolina without the father's consent or a court order. No order was needed, the court found, since the father had already left the state.

Throwback Thursday: Did 8th Cir. Already Rule on Gay Marriage Bans?

Last week, a federal district court in Missouri joined a chorus of state courts in striking down the state's ban on gay marriage. In doing so, that court set aside precedent from 2006 that many regarded as a controlling opinion on same-sex marriage bans: Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, an Eighth Circuit opinion upholding Nebraska's ban.

Judge Ortrie D. Smith of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri distinguished Bruning by classifying it as a political right-of-access case, rather than a case about a fundamental right to same-sex marriage.

Was he right? And what impact does Bruning have today, post-Windsor?

Fed. Judge Joins State Judges, Strikes Missouri Gay Marriage Ban

And the Feds weigh in!

Two days ago, a state court judge held that Missouri's ban on gay marriages performed in the state was unconstitutional. A month before that, a second state judge held that the state's refusal to recognize out-of-state marriages was unconstitutional. Meanwhile, we were wondering what was happening with the federal case.

The opinion was being proofread, apparently. Today, Judge Ortrie D. Smith of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri invalidated that state's law banning same-sex marriage, saying, quite interestingly, that it amounted to gender-based discrimination.

#ShowMeMarriage: Court Strikes SSM Ban; Mo. Reluctantly Appeals

Like dominos.

Last month, a state court in Kansas City held that the state of Missouri had to recognize out-of-state gay marriages. Earlier this week, a state court in St. Louis held that the state couldn't ban in-state gay marriages. The state declined to appeal the former case, but will appeal the latter case to the Missouri Supreme Court in order to get a statewide ruling.

Meantime, a federal case is pending in Jefferson City and the Eighth Circuit is one of the few that haven't addressed same-sex marriage since Windsor. Same-sex marriage definitely seems like a "when" rather than an "if" in this great state, but the legal path in Missouri certainly is interesting.

#ShowMeMarriage: 1st Challenge to Mo.'s Gay Marriage Ban Argued

Show Me State? More like Slow Me State, right?

The first of three challenges to Missouri's ban on same-sex marriages was argued in court today, with the judge promising a quick ruling. Today's case, in state court, challenged the state's refusal to recognize gay marriages from out of state, while a second state court case will challenge the ban on in-state marriages. A federal case is also pending.

As was the case in many other states' disputes, the ACLU argued equal protection, while the state argued for state sovereignty.

Engaged Nebraska Inmates Suing for Right to Marry: ACLU Lawsuit

The ACLU of Nebraska filed a lawsuit against Nebraska prison officials for preventing two engaged inmates from getting married.

The lawsuit, against the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, Director Michael Kenney, and two wardens, was filed on behalf of inmates Paul Gillpatrick and Niccole Wetherell, who have been engaged for more than two years.

The merits of their "right to marry" case will turn on whether the restrictions are related to a legitimate penological interest and the prison's willingness to use technology. Ah, love in the digital age.

Nebraska Supreme Court Denies Abortion to Girl in Foster Care

A 16-year-old girl in foster care was not mature enough to be allowed to get an abortion, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled.

The young woman, referred to as Anonymous 5 in the opinion, became a ward of the state earlier this year after suffering years of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her biological parents. Citing her foster parents' strict religious views, Anonymous 5 requested a judicial bypass from the court for an abortion when she was 10 weeks pregnant -- but to no avail.

Postnup Does Not Waive Spousal Rights to 401(k), 8th Cir. Says

When you sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in which you agree not to be the beneficiary of a 401(k) retirement plan, does that extinguish your spousal rights to it?

To the surprise of divorced couples and family law attorneys alike, the Eighth Circuit has ruled that no, it does not extinguish your rights. You still may have a right to the 401(k).

In its decision, the appeals court ruled that a postnuptial agreement in which each party expressed "irrevocable consent" to a change of beneficiary of the other's retirement plan did not constitute a waiver of the spousal right to benefit from such plans.

Social Workers Have Qualified Immunity in Guardianship Dispute

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that a trio of Missouri social workers are entitled to qualified immunity after recommending a guardianship arrangement for a child that allegedly led to the child's death.

Lynn and Jason Hutson filed a civil rights lawsuit against Jude Walker, Julie Baumgardner, and Sallie West -- the social workers -- after the employees recommended that custody of their son, A.H., be granted to his grandparents, Carolyn and Patrick Cattin. According to the Hutsons, this recommendation resulted in the A.H.'s untimely death.

Eighth Circuit to Hold En Banc Hearing on Informed Consent Law

Two months after a three-justice panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a provision of South Dakota's informed consent law, the Court of Appeal announced they will hold an en banc hearing on the matter.

The controversial law in question expanded South Dakota's requirements for informed consent to abortion in 2005. The Court of Appeals upheld the majority of the law's provisions - such as informing the patient that the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being - in September.