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In the Matter of Miller

Supreme Court of New Hampshire
20 A.3d 854 (N.H. 2011)


Facts

James Miller (plaintiff), a Michigan resident, and Janet Todd (defendant), a New Hampshire resident, met over the Internet, established a relationship, and had two daughters, Laurel and Lindsay. Miller and Todd never married. After Lindsay's birth, the relationship deteriorated. Miller obtained an ex parte order in a Michigan court that granted him sole legal and physical custody of both daughters. Todd was subsequently served with a Michigan custody order. Later, Todd and her parents began a steady stream of accusations against Miller, namely that he sexually abused Laurel. The accusations led to repeated physical examinations and investigations by child-protective services in Michigan and New Hampshire. Each investigation proved the accusations to be unfounded. A New Hampshire trial court issued a temporary decree awarding Miller and Todd joint legal custody of their daughters. Subsequently, Miller and Todd were evaluated by Dr. Peggie Ward, a psychologist. Dr. Ward concluded that Laurel probably had never been sexually abused by Miller or anyone else, but that Todd had misinterpreted information and heard what she wanted to hear in claiming that Miller abused Laurel. Dr. Ward also noted that Todd’s parents wholly accepted that Miller consistently was a negative influence on the children. For nearly five years, the children resided in New Hampshire with Todd, in large part because Todd frustrated the efforts of Miller to visit their daughters. The trial court held that remaining in Todd’s custody was in the children’s best interests. Miller appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Hicks, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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