Articles Posted in Family Law

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The Supreme Court held that although parents in a termination of parental rights proceeding cannot be compelled to admit to abuse of their children, they can be required to engage in meaningful therapy designed to ensure the children’s safety if returned to the home. The district court terminated the parental rights of Appellants because their oldest child was abused while in their home, the younger children witnessed the abuse and were directed to lie about it, and, while in therapy, Appellants insisted that the child’s injuries were self-inflicted. Appellants appealed, arguing that their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination were violated because the termination of parental rights was based on their refusal to admit to the abuse. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court’s findings of parental fault did not violate Appellants’ Fifth Amendment rights because Appellants did not engage in meaningful therapy and did not demonstrate the insight and behavioral changes necessary to protect the children from future abuse; (2) the district court’s findings of parental fault were supported by substantial evidence; and (3) termination was in the children’s best interests. View "In re Parental Rights as to S.L." on Justia Law

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Granting a parenting coordinator authority to make substantive changes to the parents’ custody arrangement is an improper delegation of the district court’s judicial authority. Renelyn Autista and James Picone agreed to share joint physical custody of their minor child. Thereafter, Bautista filed three motions seeking to modify the custody arrangement. The district court denied the motions and appointed a parenting coordinator to assist in mediating and resolving disputes concerning the minor child. As relevant to this appeal, the district court permitted the parenting coordinator to make substantive changes to the parents’ custody arrangement. Bautista subsequently filed another motion seeking to modify custody. The district court denied the request without conducting an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the district court abused its discretion by (1) granting the parenting coordinator authority to make substantive changes to the parenting plan, and (2) denying Bautista’s motion to change physical custody without conducting an evidentiary hearing. View "Bautista v. Picone" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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While the parties in this child custody dispute asked the Supreme Court to decide the constitutionality of Nev. Rev. Stat. 1.310, the Court declined to do so because the issues between the parties had been resolved, and therefore, the case was moot. David Degraw filed a motion for a continuance of a custody hearing pursuant to Nevada’s legislative continuance statute, section 1.310 because his attorney was a member of the Nevada State Assembly and the 2017 legislative session was about to begin. Misty Degraw opposed David’s request, arguing that the statute was unconstitutional because it violated the separation of powers doctrine. The district court (1) granted David’s motion for a continuance, (2) ordered an evidentiary hearing for a date during the legislative session, and (3) concluded that section 1.310 was unconstitutional. David then filed this writ petition arguing that the statute is unconstitutional as applied. The Supreme Court denied the petition as moot because the custody dispute in the underlying proceeding was resolved, and this case did not fall into the exception to mootness for cases that are capable of repetition yet evading review. View "Degraw v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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A familial placement preference survives the termination of parental rights, but the placement preference is then governed by Nev. Rev. Stat. 128.110(2) rather than Nev. Rev. Stat. 432B.550(5). These consolidated petitions for writs of mandamus challenged a district court order directing that a minor child be removed from her adoptive foster home and placed with maternal relatives based on a familial placement preference under section 432B.550(5). The placement order was entered after parental rights to the child were terminated. The Supreme Court granted the writs, holding (1) the district court erred in applying the familial placement preference under section 432B.550(5) because section 128.110(2) was the applicable standard; (2) the maternal relatives had a reasonable excuse for their delay in seeking placement, and they were entitled to a familial placement preference; but (3) the district court failed to set forth adequate factual findings concerning the child’s best interest or give appropriate weight to the Department of Family Services’ discretion to determine placement under section 128.110(2). View "Philip R. v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The district court in this custody modification and child relocation action abused its discretion by granting a motion in limine to exclude evidence of domestic violence under McMonigle v. McMonigle, 887 P.2d 742 (Nev. 1994), and Castle v. Simmons, 86 P.3d 1042 (Nev. 2004). Father moved to modify custody and relocate the parties’ child. When Mother opposed the motion, Father filed a motion in limine to exclude facts that occurred before the prior custody order was entered. The district court granted the motion. Thereafter, the court granted Father’s motion, determining that the parties had been exercising joint physical custody. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) McMonigle and Castle do not bar the district court from reviewing the facts and evidence underpinning its prior rulings or custody determinations in deciding whether the modification of a prior custody order is in the child’s best interest and do not prohibit parties from presenting previously known domestic violence evidence defensively to show modification is not in the child’s best interest; and (2) the district court abused its discretion by determining that the parties shared joint physical custody and granting Father’s motion to modify custody and relocate the minor child without considering the domestic violence evidence in determining the child’s best interest. View "Nance v. Ferraro" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Here the Supreme Court provided guidance on how to calculate child support where both parents share joint physical custody of one child but one parent has primary physical custody of the other child. Upon their divorce, Mother and Father, the parents of two minor children, agreed to share joint physical custody of one of their children and that Mother would have primary physical custody of the other child. Mother appealed the district court’s child support award, arguing that the court abused its discretion by not providing specific findings of fact to explain the deviation from the amount of child support owed under the statutory guideline and that the amount of child support was unreasonable. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s child support award and remanded with instructions after setting forth the proper calculation for child support under the circumstances presented by this case. View "Miller v. Miller" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In child custody cases, the focus of the court's inquiry must remain on the child's best interest and not the religious preferences of the parents. In this case, the Nevada Supreme Court held that the district court treated one parent's religious objection as dispositive and failed to conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine the best interest of the child. The district court failed to support its order with factual findings and thus the state supreme court reversed and remanded for the district court to make such determination. View "Arcella v. Arcella" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In this custody case, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court to provide recordings of conversations between Father’s child and his ex-wife surreptitiously recorded by Father to a psychologist appointed by the court to evaluate the child’s welfare. The stipulated divorce decree between the parties awarded them joint physical custody of their child. Father later moved to modify those terms to get primary physical custody. During the custody proceeding, Father filed a motion to admit the recordings at issue into evidence. The district court denied Father’s motion to admit the recordings into evidence but nonetheless provided the recordings to a psychologist, whom the court had appointed to interview and evaluate the child. The psychologist testified that Wife’s behavior was creating confusion and distress in the child, basing her opinion in part on the recordings. Thereafter, the district court determined that it was in the child’s best interest that Father be awarded primary physical custody. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in providing the recordings to the expert because they furthered the expert’s evaluation of the child’s relationship with his parents and aided the district court’s determination as to the child’s best interest. View "Abid v. Abid" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal brought by Parent challenging the district court’s placement decision following the termination of Parent’s parental rights where Parent entered into a stipulation agreeing to the termination of her parental rights but reserving the right to participate in a contested pre-termination hearing regarding the child’s placement. The Supreme Court held that Parent lacked standing to challenge the placement decision because Parent’s parental rights were clearly terminated, and therefore, Parent no longer had any substantial interest that could be affected by the court’s placement decision. Further, the Supreme Court’s prior order denying writ relief did not confer standing on Parent. View "In re Parental Rights as to T.L." on Justia Law

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A post-judgment vexatious litigant determination may be considered in an appeal from an otherwise appealable order. In 2015, Appellant and Respondent were divorced via a divorce decree. Appellant subsequently filed several motions to reopen the decree and alter its terms. The district court eventually entered an order granting Respondent additional sums from certain accounts and declaring both Appellant and Respondent to be vexatious litigants. Appellant appealed. The Supreme Court questioned whether the portion of the order declaring Appellant to be a vexatious litigant was appealable where no statute or court rule appeared to authorize an appeal from such an order. The court concluded that it could consider the vexatious litigant determination in the context of this appeal because the post-judgment vexatious litigant determination was contained within an otherwise independently appealable order. View "Yu v. Yu" on Justia Law