Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Father's motion to modify the custody and parenting time arrangements between the parties, holding that the district court neither abused its discretion in denying the requested modification or in allowing grandparent visitation.The district court previously modified the custody and parenting time provisions in the parties' dissolution decree upon finding that Mother was not properly caring for the parties' child and was using controlled substances. The order of modification granted custody to Father and required Mother's parenting time to be supervised by her parents. The next year, Father moved to modify the order yet again, requesting that Mother's supervised parenting time be indefinitely suspended due to her continued substance abuse. The district court denied the modification and, in a separate order, granted the maternal grandparents' complaint for grandparent visitation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Father's complaint to modify; and (2) the grandparent visitation order was not an abuse of discretion. View "Lindblad v. Lindblad" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the juvenile court denying the State's petition to terminate Mother's parental rights, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the State fell short of carrying its heavy burden for termination.In support of its petition to terminate Mother's parental rights, the State alleged four grounds for termination based on one proven instance of neglect, Mother's actions in escaping an abusive boyfriend and obtaining work to support her children, and the children's out-of-home placement following Mother's arrest. The juvenile court denied termination, concluding that the State failed clearly and convincingly to show that there was a statutory basis for termination or that termination was in the best interests of the children. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the State failed to meet its heavy burden to clearly and convincingly proving Mother's unfitness or that termination of her parental rights was in her children's best interests. View "In re Interest of Mateo L." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the State's appeal from a juvenile court order dismissing a supplemental petition filed after the court terminated a guardianship over which the court had expressly retained jurisdiction, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction.On appeal, the State argued that Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-247(8) required it to file a supplemental - or second - petition after the guardianship was terminated in order to reinstate the juvenile court's jurisdiction over the children. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the juvenile court's dismissal of the second petition had no effect on the State's ability to continue to assert its rights under its original petition; (2) the juvenile court retained jurisdiction over the children; and (3) because the State's substantial rights in the proceedings were not substantially affected by the court's dismissal of the second petition, this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction. View "In re Interest of Mekhi S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the conclusion of the Buffalo County Court that the Phelps County Court lacked jurisdiction to transfer this case to Buffalo County and dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the court of appeals did not err.Jodi Ronhovde and Austin Peterson were in a sexual relationship before Jodi gave birth to a child. Jodi subsequently married and joined her husband in seeking a stepparent adoption. The complaint was filed in the Phelps County Court, and Jodi identified Austin as the child's biological father. Austin then motioned for a change of venue to Buffalo County, which the Phelps County Court granted. Jodi filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the Phelps County Court never had jurisdiction and, therefore, could not have transferred the case. The Buffalo County Court agreed. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the language of Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-104.05(4)(a) did not confer jurisdiction; and (2) the court of appeals did not err in reversing the dismissal of Austin's complaint by the Buffalo County Court. View "Peterson v. Jacobitz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the denial of Father's motion for an order to show cause based on Mother's relocation of the parties' minor child, holding that the district court abused its discretion in denying Father's motion.The decree of dissolution dissolving the parties' marriage awarded the parties joint legal and physical custody of the minor child. Two years later, Mother moved with the child from Burwell to Springfield. Father filed a motion for order to show cause and a motion for writ of assistance, requesting the court to direct law enforcement to take custody of the child and deliver the child to him. The district court denied Father's motions, finding the parties' parenting plan did not require the child to attend school in Burwell rather than Springfield. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Mother's unilateral decision to relocate the child ran contrary to the parties' custody arrangement and deprived Father of court-ordered parenting time; and (2) therefore, the district court abused its discretion by denying Father's motion for an order to show cause. View "Vyhlidal v. Vyhlidal" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Kathryn Tierney's post-divorce motion to determine a metes and bounds description for the parties' marital home and awarding Kathryn a 5.24-acre parcel created from the original parcels of land, holding that the district court did not err.The decree dissolving the marriage of Kathryn and Lawrence Tierney also divided the martial property, including certain tracts of real property. The court of appeals modified the decree in part by awarding Lawrence certain parcels originally awarded to Kathryn and awarding the martial home to Kathryn. Because the home was located on one of the tracts of land that had been awarded to Lawrence Kathryn motioned for a metes and bounds description for the home. Kathryn sought a minimum parcel of 5.24 acres, and Lawrence argued for a one-acre tract. The district court granted Kathryn's motion and awarded her a 5.24-acre tract of land. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no merit to Lawrence's assignments of error. View "Tierney v. Tierney" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of the district court dissolving the marriage of the parties in this case, Tyron Alli and Patricia Seivert, and dividing the marital estate, holding that neither party was entitled to relief on their claims of error.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the district court did not err by (1) including in the marital estate property that Alli obtained after the parties separated and the complaint for dissolution was filed; (2) ordering Alli to pay alimony; (3) ordering Alli to pay attorney fees; (4) ordering Alli to pay the children's educational expenses; (5) determining the value of Alli's business interests; and (6) failing to find that the parties were putatively married in June 1996. View "Seivert v. Alli" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from an order setting aside a default order modifying child support and setting the matter for a status hearing, holding that the order was not a final order.Sybil Porter filed a complaint for modification of a divorce decree awarding her custody of the parties' two children and ordering Dustin Porter to pay child support, alleging that there had been a substantial and material change of circumstances necessitating a modification due to a change of income. The court entered an order of modification after a hearing at which Dustin did not appear. The court subsequently vacated its order and set a status hearing. Sybil appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that because the default order modifying child support and setting the matter for a status hearing did not affect a substantial right of the parties it was not a final order. View "Porter v. Porter" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dissolving the marriage of Daniel Cornwell and Melanie Cornwell, holding that the district court did not err in using the immediate offset method of valuation to value the martial portion of Daniel's pension.Both parties appealed in this case. Daniel argued that the district court erred in using the immediate offset method to value his pension. On cross-appeal, Melanie argued that the district court erred in not awarding her attorney fees and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion by using the immediate offset method of valuation and to accordingly value and divide the estate; and (2) did not err in not awarding Melanie attorney fees and costs. View "Cornwell v. Cornwell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Mother's request to move the children she shared with Father out of state to live with her new husband and in modifying custody, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.After the parties divorced, Mother was awarded sole physical custody over the children, subject to parenting time with Father. When Mother remarried, she filed her removal request. The trial court denied the request, concluding that the move was not in the children's best interests. Instead, the trial court awarded sole physical custody over the children to Father, subject to Mother's parenting time. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying removal and modifying custody. View "Korth v. Korth" on Justia Law