Articles Posted in Nevada Supreme Court

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Mother and Father divorced in Nevada pursuant to a decree that granted Mother custody of the parents’ two children and ordered Father to pay Mother child support. Father later relocated to Hawaii and ceased making child support payments. Thereafter, the Hawaii court issued an administrative order that continued the Nevada child support order. The Hawaii court later entered an order reducing Father’s child support obligation. After the children reached the age of majority, Mother filed a motion requesting the Nevada district court to determine that the Nevada child support order was controlling and for a judgment of arrears. The Nevada court concluded that it had lost jurisdiction over the matter. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act applies retroactively; and (2) Nevada had continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over this child support matter under the Act because Mother and the children continuously resided in Nevada and the parents did not consent to the assumption of jurisdiction over and modification of the order by the Hawaii court. View "Holdaway-Foster v. Brunell" on Justia Law

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The parties in this case were unmarried parents of one child. Father established himself as the child’s father with to a written acknowledgment of paternity. After Mother relocated with the child to California without Father’s consent or knowledge, Father filed a motion for the child’s return and for an award of primary custody. The district court awarded Mother primary physical custody of the child and allowed the child to remain with her in California. In making its determination, the court concluded that because the couple did not have a judicial child custody order, Nev. Rev. Stat. 125C.200, the statute governing relocation by an established custodial parent, was inapplicable in this case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) unmarried parents have equal custody rights regarding their child absent a judicial custody order to the contrary; (2) the district court did not err in finding section 125C.200 was inapplicable in this case; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding Mother primary physical custody and approving her relocation with the child to California based on its determination that Mother had a “good faith” reason for the move and that living with Mother in California was in the child’s best interest. View "Druckman v. Ruscitti" on Justia Law

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Catherine Doan and Craig Doan divorced in 2003. The divorce decree did not include Craig’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) retirement benefit despite the fact that the retirement benefit was disclosed and discussed during the divorce proceedings. In 2009, Catherine filed a motion for division of an omitted asset after her attorney discovered that she was not receiving Craig’s FAA retirement benefits. The district court modified the final decree of divorce, concluding that Craig’s retirement benefits were omitted from the divorce decree because of a mutual mistake. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) an ex-spouse who does not file a motion for relief from a divorce decree within the six month period under Nev. R. Civ. P. 60(b) is not entitled to partition absent exceptional circumstances justifying equitable relief; and (2) under the facts of this case, Catherine was not entitled to equitable relief because the retirement benefit was adjudicated in the divorce proceedings. View "Doan v. Wilkerson" on Justia Law

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Husband and Wife had four children when Wife filed a complaint for divorce. During the trial proceedings, Wife, who was representing herself, failed to comply with several of Husband's discovery requests. Subsequently, the district court concluded that discovery sanctions were warranted and entered a default divorce decree. The decree awarded the parties joint legal and joint physical custody of the children, set forth child support, and divided the parties' community assets and liabilities. The Supreme Court reversed the default divorce decree, holding (1) it is not permissible to resolve child custody and child support claims by default as a sanction for discovery violations; (2) as for division of community property and debt, a court must make an equal disposition as statutorily required before entering a default; and (3) regarding all other claims, a court must first make a through evaluation and express findings of whether less severe sanctions are appropriate, which the court did not do in this case. Remanded. View "Blanco v. Blanco" on Justia Law

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Sha'Kayla St. Mary and Veronica Damon became romantically involved and decided to have a child together. The couple subsequently drafted a co-parenting agreement. Using Damon's egg and an anonymous donor's sperm, St. Mary gave birth to a child through in vitro fertilization. After their relationship ended, the parties disputed who had custodial rights over the child. The district court (1) concluded that St. Mary was a mere surrogate and therefore not a parent entitled to any custodial rights; and (2) refused to uphold the parties' co-parenting agreement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred in determining that St. Mary was a surrogate lacking any legal rights to parent the child without holding an evidentiary hearing on that issue; and (2) the parties' co-parenting agreement was not void as unlawful or against public policy, and therefore, the district court abused its discretion in deeming the agreement unenforceable. View " St. Mary v. Damon" on Justia Law

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Geanie and Kevin were married by newly elected district court judge Bryce Duckworth. Although Duckworth had sworn his oath of office four days earlier, he was not authorized to take the bench for another several days. After Geanie filed for divorce from Kevin three years later, the district court dismissed the divorce complaint as moot, concluding there was no valid marriage because Duckworth did not have the authority to solemnize the marriage until his term actually started. Geanie did not appeal the district court's dismissal order. One year later, Geanie filed this original petition for a writ of mandamus or prohibition challenging the district court's order. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding that Geanie's failure to timely challenge the district court's order by appeal or otherwise precluded writ relief. View "Bradford v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court" on Justia Law

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Appellant hired Law Firm to represent him in a divorce action. After a post-decree dispute, Appellant paid Law Firm for the firm's work through entry of the final decree but did not pay Law Firm the fees it charged to litigate the post-decree dispute. The district court granted Law Firm's post-decree motion to adjudicate and enforce a charging lien for unpaid attorney fees pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 18.015, entering personal judgment against Appellant. Under section 18.015(3), a charging lien only attaches to a decree and to money recovered on account of the action from the time of service of the notices. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Law Firm did not serve the statutory notices required to perfect its lien until the case was over and the decree had already become final, and because no prospect of post-perfection recovery appeared, the lien should not have been adjudicated under section 18.015. View " Leventhal v. Black & LoBello" on Justia Law

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Mother and Father shared joint legal and physical custody of their minor child. Based on evidence of domestic violence, Mother obtained a fictitious address from the Secretary of State, who could not disclose Mother's true address without a court order. Father subsequently filed in the Supreme Court an original petition for a writ of mandamus, seeking an order directing the Secretary to remove Mother from the fictitious address program. At issue before the Court was whether Father may seek the disclosure of Mother's home address. The Supreme Court denied the petition, concluding that the Court was not the proper court to consider Father's petition for extraordinary relief. The court then held (1) as a co-parent, Father may seek the disclosure of Mother's address in the district court by extraordinary writ; and (2) in determining whether to grant the writ, the district court must consider whether Mother can establish that Father was a perpetrator of domestic violence, and if established, the burden shifts to Father to show that despite the domestic violence, disclosure is in the child's best interest. View "Falconi v. Sec'y of State" on Justia Law

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More than a year after Wife's and Husband's divorce, Wife filed a motion to reopen discovery. Wife also filed a motion to disqualify Judge Gonzalez from hearing the motion to reopen discovery, asserting that Judge Gonzalez hearing the motion would create an appearance of impropriety because Husband and others connected to the parties' divorce contributed to the judge's reelection complain. Judge Togliatti denied Wife's motion to disqualify Judge Gonzalez, and the Judge Gonzalez went on to preside over Wife's motion to reopen discovery. Wife subsequently petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus or prohibition vacating Judge Togliatti's order and disqualifying Judge Gonzalez from hearing the motion to reopen discovery. The Supreme Court denied Wife's petition, holding that the failure to disqualify Judge Gonzalez did not violate Wife's due process rights or Nevada law, as all of the campaign contributions at issue were within statutory limits and made after the divorce decree. View "Ivey v. Dist. Court" on Justia Law

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Child was placed into the protective custody of the County Department of Social Services after Child was found with her extremely intoxicated mother. Child's father (Father) was not involved in the events leading to Child's removal. Social Services filed a petition for neglect against both parents, but the petition was dismissed as to Father. The juvenile court denied Child's placement with Father and placed Child in the legal custody of Social Services while Father was ordered to comply with a case plan for reunification with Child. Social Services then filed a petition to terminate Father's parental rights to Child. The district court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Father was not required to comply with a case plan and accept services for purposes of reunification when Father was not found to have neglected the child; (2) keeping Child from the custody of Father when there were no substantiated findings he had neglected Child violated Father's fundamental constitutional rights to parent his child; and (3) the presumptions favoring termination of parental rights under Nev. Rev. Stat. 128.109, which arose from Child being placed outside the home in the dependence proceeding, did not apply to Father. View "Washoe County Dep't of Soc. Servs. v. Kory L.G." on Justia Law