Articles 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

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A parent cannot be compelled to admit to a criminal act in order to maintain his or her parental rights. Appellant was required to admit to a crime for her to be considered in compliance with her case plan. The district court eventually terminated Appellant’s parental rights. On appeal, Appellant argued that terminating her parental rights on the sole basis that she refused to admit that she intentionally harmed her child violated her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding (1) the district court’s termination of Appellant’s parental rights constituted a violation of her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination; and (2) there was not substantial evidence supporting the district court’s findings of parental fault and that termination of Appellant’s parental rights was in the best interests of her children. View "In re Parental Rights as to A.D.L." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Nev. Rev. Stat. 18.015, which provides for the enforcement of liens for attorney fees, as amended in 2013, provides for the enforcement of a retaining lien for attorney fees. Respondent represented Appellant in a paternity action. Respondent later filed and served a notice of a retaining lien against Appellant for $13,701 for unpaid legal fees. Respondent filed a motion asking the district court to adjudicate the rights of counsel, for enforcement of attorney’s lien, and for a judgment for attorney fees. Appellant argued that Respondent was asserting a charging lien, not a retaining lien, and that the purported charging lien failed as a matter of law. The district court granted Respondent’s motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the plain language of section 18.015 unambiguously permits an attorney to enforce a retaining lien; and (2) the district court did not err by enforcing Respondent’s valid retaining lien against Appellant under section 18.015. View "Fredianelli v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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The district court violated Mother’s due process rights by entering a sua sponte order permanently increasing Father’s visitation with the parties’ minor children and reducing Mother’s custodial time without sufficient notice to Mother. The district court based its order on unrecorded interviews that the judge conducted independently with the parties’ children and an unsubstantiated Child Protective Services report that was not admitted into evidence. The Supreme Court reversed the order modifying child custody, holding (1) the district court’s sua sponte order, which in effect granted Father’s oral request for a change in visitation at an evidentiary hearing, violated due process; (2) a court is required to follow the provisions of the Uniform Child Witness Testimony by Alternative Methods Act set forth in Nev. Rev. Stat. 50.500 et seq.; and (3) the district court erred in this case by disregarding Nev. Rev. Stat. 50.500 et seq. when it decided to interview the children off the record. View "Gordon v. Geiger" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Poverty is not, and never has been, a valid basis for terminating one’s parental rights. After a bench trial, the district court issued an order terminating Mother’s parental rights to all four of her children. Mother appealed, arguing that the district court terminated her parental rights due to her poverty and that poverty is not a valid basis for terminating one’s parental rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) while poverty is not a valid basis for terminating a parent’s parental rights, the district court is not prohibited from considering a parent’s failure to maintain housing or employment in contravention of a state-issued case plan; and (2) substantial evidence supported the district court’s finding that Mother’s failure to reunite with her children was not due to her poverty and that she made only token efforts toward reunification. View "In re Parental Rights as to R.T." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 130.207, a Nevada child support order controlled over a Norway order. Mother and Father were granted a divorce from a Nevada court. Their children habitually resided in Norway. At issue in this case was a child support order entered in Norway. The district court concluded that the Nevada support order controlled because Norway lacked jurisdiction to modify the Nevada order. Father appealed this conclusion as well as other court rulings. The court of appeals concluded that Nevada’s child support order controlled over Norway’s order and that it lacked jurisdiction to consider Father’s challenges to certain contempt findings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Nevada child support order controlled; and (2) this court had jurisdiction over the challenges to contempt findings and sanctions in the order appealed from, but the court need not consider them because Appellant failed to assert cogent arguments or provide relevant authority in support of his claims. View "Vaile v. Porsboll" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The district court did not err in granting Robert Boynes paternity over a child adopted by Ken Nguyen under the equitable adoption doctrine. During their relationship, Rob and Ken decided to adopt a child. The parties ended their relationship mere months after they received the newborn child. Ken later formally adopted the child. Thereafter, Rob filed a petition for paternity and custody. The district court concluded that Rob was entitled to a presumption of paternity under Nev. Rev. Stat. 126.051(1)(d) and that Rob and Ken were to have joint legal and physical custody of the child. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in granting Rob paternity under the equitable adoption doctrine; (2) the district court’s order did not violate equal protection principals; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting Rob joint legal and physical custody. View "Nguyen v. Boynes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The district court did not violate any rules and complied with due process requirements when it terminated Mother’s parental rights without her presence and ability to assist in her defense. Mother had been arrested before the hearing and declared incompetent in her criminal proceedings. A guardian ad litem was appointed, however, and the district court continued the trial in the parental rights case numerous times due to Mother’s inability to regain competence. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision, holding that the district court (1) properly proceeded with the parental rights despite despite Mother’s incompetence to stand trial in her criminal case; and (2) had personal jurisdiction over Mother despite allegations of insufficient service because Mother waived the issue. View "In re Parental Rights as to M.M.L." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law