Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court awarding joint legal and physical custody of J.F. to Sara P., Tyler F., and Geoffrey V., holding that the district court committed plain error in considering Geoffrey's paternity complaint while failing to give proper legal effect to Tyler's acknowledgment of paternity.Sara gave birth to J.F. and represented to Tyler that he was J.F.'s father. Tyler signed an acknowledgment of paternity when J.F. was born. Tyler later filed a complaint to establish paternity, custody, and parenting time seeking joint legal and physical custody of J.F. After a DNA test excluded Tyler as the biological father, Geoffrey filed a complaint to establish paternity seeking that physical and legal custody be placed with Sara subject to his and Tyler's visitation rights. After the case was remanded, the district court awarded legal and physical custody of J.F. until the end of that year, at which time all three parties were awarded joint legal and physical custody. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court committed plain error in considering Geoffrey's complaint to establish his paternity of J.F. when Tyler's acknowledgment remained in place and established Tyler as J.F.'s father. View "Tyler F. v. Sara P." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court vacated the order of the juvenile court granting the State's complaint seeking to disestablish the paternity of Aaron S. to a child born during his marriage to the child's mother and to establish paternity in another man, holding that the State was not statutorily authorized to bring the action.After genetic testing showed that Ian K. was the child's biological father the State filed a complaint seeking to establish Ian's paternity. A trial was held, and at the conclusion of the evidence the State asked the court to disestablish Aaron, the husband of the child's mother, as the child's legal father and to establish Ian as the child's father so he could effectively relinquish his rights. The juvenile court entered an order which purported to disestablish Aaron as the child's biological father and to establish Ian's as the child's father. The Supreme Court vacated the order, holding that because the child was not born out of wedlock and was the legitimate child of Aaron, the State lacked statutory authority to bring this paternity action under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1411. View "State ex rel. Miah S. v. Ian K." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the juvenile court terminating the parental rights of Samantha H. to her minor child, Noah C., holding that the juvenile court did not err when it denied Samantha's motion to continue the termination and when it found that termination was in the best interests of Noah.After a termination hearing, the district court entered a written order finding that sufficient evidence was presented to demonstrate clearly and convincingly that termination of parental rights was appropriate under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-292(7) and in the best interests of Noah. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Samantha's motion for a continuance; and (2) it was shown by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Samantha's parental rights would be in Noah's best interests. View "In re Interest of Noah C." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dissolving the marriage of Tammy Doerr and Brian Doerr, holding that the district court did not err in its division of the marital estate.On appeal, Brian challenged the district court's decision to award half of the proceeds from what he claimed was his separate property to Tammy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in awarding roughly half of the equity of the parties' home on Howard Street in Fremont to Tammy; (2) did not err in its division of the parties' bank accounts; (3) did not err by not equally dividing the marital debt comprising a credit card balance and a bill for preseparation renovations; and (4) did not err calculating the amount of the equalization payment. View "Doerr v. Doerr" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the judgment of the district court determining that it was in Child's best interests to continue living with Mother and in declining to change custody of Child to Father, holding that deployment of Mother's military spouse for one year to a base near Washington, D.C., coupled with a change in employment conditions after the deployment ended, constituted a legitimate reason for leaving the state.After Mother, who had custody of Child, remarried, she sought a modification requesting permission to move with Child to the District of Columbia and thereafter to wherever he husband was stationed. The court granted Mother leave to remove Child from Nebraska and to determine his primary place of residence. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) Mother established a legitimate reason for leaving Nebraska and moving with Child to the District of Columbia, and the district court did not err in determining that it was in Child's best interests to continue living with Mother; (2) the court did not err in declining to change custody of Child to Father; and (3) to the extent the order authorizes Mother to later move with Child to Missouri or Alabama, the order is modified to eliminate that authority. View "State, ex rel. Ryley G. v. Ryan G." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming the decision of a state agency ruling several noncitizen applicants ineligible for all public benefits of the Bridge to Independence program (B2I), holding that the district court did not err in determining that applicants were not eligible for B2I.The applicants in this case were Guatemalan citizens who fled to Nebraska as minors. Each applicant was adjudicated pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(3)(a) and placed in foster care. The applicants, who had already received special immigration juvenile status, applied to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for B2I. DHHS denied the applications because each applicant failed to meet the citizenship and lawful presence requirements. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in determining that the applicants were not eligible for B2I because the applicants were not "lawfully present" and the legislature did not "affirmatively provide[]" for unlawful applicants to be eligible under the Young Adult Bridge to Independence Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-4501 to 43-4514. View "E.M. v. Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals finding sufficient evidence to support modifying legal custody of the minor child in this case but not physical custody, holding that the court of appeals erred in finding that Father did not prove a material change in circumstances justifying modification of physical custody.Upon their divorce, Mother was awarded legal and physical custody of the child. The court later entered a modified decree awarding the parties joint legal and physical custody. Father then filed the instant complaint to modify, alleging that there had been a material change in circumstances warranting a change in the joint custody arrangement. After a trial, the court gave Father physical custody subject to Mother's parenting time and found it unnecessary to modify the parties' joint legal custody. The court of appeals found insufficient evidence to warrant modifying physical custody but sufficient evidence to modify legal custody. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that Mother's continuous unemployment and chronic housing instability was a material change in circumstances that affected the child's best interests, and the district court's custody arrangement was in the child's best interests. View "Jones v. Jones" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the court of appeals affirming the order of the county court appointing Suzette G.'s brother, Alvin G., as her limited guardian, holding that the court of appeals did not err when it allowed the appointed guardian ad litem (GAL) to testify at the trial.Alvin filed petitions seeking temporary and permanent appointments as Suzette's limited guardian, alleging that because of mental health issues Suzette was incapable of making responsible decisions regarding her person and her health. After a trial, the court appointed Alvin as a permanent limited guardian for Suzette. On appeal, Suzette argued that the county court erred when it allowed the court-appointed GAL to testify. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the GAL was allowed to testify under the rules of professional conduct and, consequently, under Neb. Ct. R. 6-1469(E)(4)(b). View "In re Guardianship of Suzette G." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the juvenile court terminating Father's parental rights to his minor child, holding that the juvenile court did not deny Father procedural due process and did not err when it determined that terminating Father's parental rights to the child was appropriate under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-292(2) and (7) and was in the best interests of the child.The juvenile court terminated Father's parental rights to his child on three statutory bases. Father appealed, arguing that his procedural due process rights were violated and that the juvenile court erred when it terminated his parental rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Father was not denied procedural due process rights at the termination hearing; and (2) there was support in the record establishing grounds for termination under section 43-292(2) and (7) and the evidence demonstrated that termination of Father's parental rights was in the best interests of the child. View "In re Interest of Taeson D." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court declining to make specific findings of fact for purposes of special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status under federal law after rendering judgment dissolving the marriage of Mother and Father and awarding full custody of the parties' child to Mother, holding that the court had the authority to make these findings.After the court made an oral pronouncement granting the parties' divorce and awarding custody to Mother, it signed a decree that included findings sought regarding abuse, neglect, or abandonment and best interests of the child. The court, however, struck through those findings and therefore did not make the findings requested by Mother, concluding that it lacked the authority to make the requested findings. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in not making the findings of fact requested by Mother because the court had the jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination and to make the requested findings. View "Sabino v. Ozuna" on Justia Law