Articles Posted in Family Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Appellant's motion to make three predicate findings necessary to petition to petition the federal government for special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status after awarding sole physical custody of A.A. to Appellant, holding that a child custody order satisfies the dependency or custody prong for SIJ predicate findings. The district court concluded that Appellant did not satisfy the first two predicate SIJ findings because the court did not "appoint" Appellant to have custody over A.A. and that Appellant did not prove that A.A. was unable to reunify with both parents, rather than with just her father. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a child custody order can satisfy the first predicate SIJ finding requiring a person to be "appointed" to have custody over a juvenile; (2) the second predicate SIJ finding can be made where reunification is not viable with one parent due to abuse, abandonment, neglect, or other similar basis under Nevada law; and (3) because the district court reached the opposite conclusions and failed to determine whether the third predicate was met, the case must be remanded for further adjudication. View "Amaya v. Rivera" on Justia Law

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In this divorce action, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the district court's award of alimony not based on need and unequal distribution of the parties' community property due to one spouse's extramarital affairs, gifts to family, and excess spending, holding that the alimony award was an abuse of discretion. The martial estate in this case was approximately $47 million. Wife received nearly $21 million in the divorce decree and Husband received just under $14 million. The district court also awarded Wife alimony in the lump sum of $1,630,292. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the alimony award was improper because Wife's share of community property will produce passive income sufficient to maintain her marital standard of living; and (2) community funds spent on extramarital affairs were dissipated such that the district court the district court had a compelling reason to make an unequal disposition of community property, but the unequal disposition of property based on Husband's everyday consumption must be reversed. View "Kogod v. Cioffi-Kogod" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In this matter where the adoptive family of a young child sought to have Nev. Rev. Stat. 432B.550(5)(a)’s rebuttable presumption that a dependent child’s placement with a sibling is in the child’s best interes- applied in determining the out-of-home placement of her biological baby sister, the Supreme Court granted in part Petitioners’ petition for extraordinary relief, holding that adoption does not preclude application of the legislative presumption that placing siblings together is in a child’s best interest. Amy Mulkern, the adoptive mother of Baby’s biological half-sister, Vivian Mulkern, was a willing and approved placement option for Baby. The Clark County Department of Family Services (DFS), however, determined that Baby had bonded with and should remain with her foster parents, who were also willing to adopt. Amy sought relief in the district court dependency proceeding. The district court determined that Vivian’s adoption severed the sibling relationship such that section 432B.550(5)(a)’s sibling presumption did not apply. The Supreme Court granted Amy and Vivian’s petition for extraordinary relief, holding that because Amy was the mother of Baby’s biological sister, the rebuttable sibling presumption applied. View "Mulkern v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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