Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the order of the district court modifying the parenting plan agreed to by Anne VanSkiver and Todd VanSkiver and approved by the district court, holding that the order of modification was warranted by a material change in circumstances, and the court did not improperly delegate its authority to determine parenting time. When the marriage between the parties was dissolved Anne was granted legal and physical custody of the parties' two minor children, subject to the parenting plan at issue. Anne later moved to modify and suspend Todd's parenting time pending family therapy. The district court modified the parenting plan but did not order family therapy. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified for clarity, holding (1) the district court's order suspended Todd's parenting time entirely, and the court did not abuse its discretion in this regard; and (2) Anne showed a material change in circumstances affecting the best interests of the children, and the district court did not improperly delegate to the minor children the right to determine whether to exercise parenting time. View "VanSkiver v. VanSkiver" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of dissolution entered by the district court dissolving the marriage of Marissa Blank to Caleb Blank and awarding joint legal and physical custody of the parties' two minor children, holding that the district court did not err in awarding joint physical custody. Specifically, the Court held (1) Marissa had reasonable notice that joint custody was at issue during the trial, had an opportunity to be heard on the issue of joint custody during the trial, and presented evidence on the issue of joint custody during the trial, and therefore, the district court did not err in considering joint physical custody where neither party made such a request prior to trial and the court did not provide notice of its consideration; (2) the court did not err in determining that the case did not involve domestic abuse; and (3) the court did not abuse its discretion in determining that joint custody was in the children's best interests. View "Blank v. Blank" on Justia Law

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In this post-divorce action, the Supreme Court vacated in part and affirmed in part the order of the district court requiring Mother to bring the parties' children to Catholic Mass every weekend in which she was exercising parenting time or to allow Father to take the children during her parenting time, holding that the parenting plan did not require the Mass attendance ordered by the district court. During their divorce proceedings Mother and Father agreed to a stipulated parenting plan that was later incorporated in the decree dissolving their marriage. The parenting plan included a provision that the children "will be enrolled and be participants in the Catholic religion." Father later filed a motion alleging that Mother was not complying with the provision in the parenting plan regarding the children's participation in the Catholic religion. The district court entered an order providing that the children must attend Catholic Mass every weekend and on Holy Days of Obligation. The Supreme Court vacated the order in part, holding that the district court erred in interpreting the decree and that the language of the parenting plan did not require Mother to facilitate the children's attendance at Catholic Mass as ordered by the district court. View "Gomez v. Gomez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part, affirmed in part as modified, and reversed in part the decree of dissolution in this case, holding that the district court erred in calculating child support and in dividing certain marital assets and that the parties' remaining arguments on appeal were without merit. Shawn Dooling appealed the decree of dissolution, arguing that the trial court erred in calculating child support, dividing the martial state, and awarding alimony. Kristina Dooling cross-appealed, assigning errors relating to the issues of child support, division of the marital estate, and the award of joint physical custody. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court erred in calculating child support, and the matter is remanded for the district court for a proper calculation of child support; (2) the court erred in its equitable division of the house proceeds, and the division of the house proceeds requires modification; (3) there was no abuse of discretion in the district court's determination that joint physical custody and the parenting plan incorporated into the decree are in the best interests of the children; and (4) the parties' remaining arguments were without merit. View "Dooling v. Dooling" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from civil contempt proceedings in a dissolution action, holding that a contemnor's full compliance with a purge plan rendered moot a subsequent appeal of the finding of contempt. After the dissolution of her marriage to James Bramble, Lori Bramble was found to have willfully violated the provisions of the decree. The court established a purge plan but did not impose a sanction for the contempt. Lori filed a timely motion to alter or amend the order, which the court overruled. Lori appealed, arguing that the district court erred by finding her in contempt and by imposing a purge plan. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the appeal was moot because Lori had fully and voluntarily purged herself of the civil contempt finding she sought to overturn, and no legally cognizable interest continued to exist. View "Bramble v. Bramble" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying Ariana Bernal Sabino's request for in forma paupers status on appeal from the district court's entry of a decree dissolving her marriage to Juan Carlos Genchi Ozuna, holding that the district court erred in denying Sabino's request to proceed in forma paupers in her appeal from the divorce decree. The district court dissolved the parties' marriage in this case but denied Sabino's petition for findings of fact regarding the abuse, abandonment, and neglect of her children by Ozuna. Sabino filed a motion to appeal accompanied by a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. The district court denied the motion, finding that Sabino was not destitute or not in the condition that she could not pay the appeal expenses. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-2301.02, Sabino lacked sufficient funds to pay costs, fee, or security. View "Sabino v. Ozuna" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the domestic abuse protection order obtained by Robert M. on behalf of Bella O., holding that the trial court did not err in determining that Bella was a victim of abuse within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. 42-903. Robert and Danielle O. were the parents of Bella. Robert filed a petition and affidavit to obtain a domestic abuse protection order for Bella against Danielle under Neb. Rev. Stat. 42-924. Robert's affidavit stated that Danielle physically attacked two other family members while Bella was present. Danielle, however, did not attack Bella. The trial court determined that Danielle's conduct put Bella in fear of bodily injury by means of a credible threat and thus constituted domestic abuse under section 42-903(1)(b). The Supreme Court affirmed, although its reasoning differed from that of the trial court, holding that Bella did to have to be the target or recipient of a threat in order to be a victim thereof and that Bella was entitled to a protection order under the circumstances of this case. View "Robert M. v. Danielle O." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the juvenile court purporting to transfer a modification proceeding back to the district court, holding that the order was beyond the juvenile court's statutory authority and void. Trevor W. commenced this modification proceeding in the district court. Christine W. counterclaimed seeking to terminate Trevor's parental rights. Christine obtained an order transferring the proceeding to the county court, sitting as a juvenile court. The juvenile court denied the transfer and purportedly returned the proceeding to district court. The Supreme Court vacated the order and remanded the cause to the juvenile court for further proceedings, holding that the juvenile court acted beyond its statutory authority and that its order was void. View "Christine W. v. Trevor W." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court appointing counsel at public expense for an indigent individual who had signed a notarized acknowledgment of paternity under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1408.01 but who, in response to the State's suit for child support, challenged the acknowledgment of paternity under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1409 on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact, holding that such appointment was required by due process. The State filed a child support action against Julio G. and on behalf of Mia G., a minor child, and attached Julio's signed notarized acknowledgement of paternity to its complaint. Thereafter, Julio challenged the acknowledgment of paternity under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1409, claiming a material mistake of fact. It was then established that Julio was indigent, and the district court appointed counsel for Julio at public expense. The district court found that Julio was the biological father of Mia and ordered child support. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it determined that paternity was at issue in the case and that Julio, who was indigent, was entitled to court-appointed counsel. View "State ex rel. Mia G. v. Julio G." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court for Seward County denying the request sought by Jami Hollomon, the mother of a minor child, seeking to register an order by the State of Texas adjudicating parentage and establishing a parenting plan for the child, holding that the district court abused its discretion in denying Hollomon's request to register the Texas order in Nebraska. In its order, the State of Texas adjudicated parentage and established a parenting plan as between Hollomon and Alex Taylor, the unmarried parents of the child. The district court denied Hollomon's request to confirm and register the order in Nebraska, concluding that it should decline jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1226 to 43-1266. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Texas order may be registered in Nebraska; and (2) concerns about whether the district court for Seward County may exercise jurisdiction over the child custody proceeding were not yet implicated. View "Hollomon v. Taylor" on Justia Law