Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada
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The Supreme Court held that divorce jurisdiction requires mere residence - not domicile - and that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction in this case under Nev. Rev. Stat. 125.020.Appellant and Respondent married in Saudi Arabia. In 2018, Respondent obtained a student visa and moved to Las Vegas. In 2020, Appellant and the child obtained dependent visas and also moved to Las Vegas. Two months later, Appellant filed a complaint for divorce. Respondent moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that Appellant could not establish domicile - or intent to remain in Nevada - so that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under section 125.020. The district court granted the motion, finding that, because residence is synonymous with domicile under section 125.020 and neither party had established domicile as a matter of law, dismissal was necessary. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) under section 125.020, residence means mere residence - not domicile - and Nev. Rev. Stat. 10.155 defines residence as physical presence; and (2) because Appellant had been physically present in Nevada for at least six weeks before she filed her divorce complaint, the district court had subject-matter jurisdiction under 125.020. View "Senjab v. Alhulaibi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting a motion to modify a divorce decree under Nev. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6), holding that Rule 60(b)(6) relief was inappropriate in this case.Rule 60(b)(6) allows for relief from a judgment for any justifiable reason besides those otherwise listed specifically in that rule. Your years Appellee moved for relief from the divorce decree pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) and to modify the decree, arguing that Appellant fraudulently induced her into signing the parties' marital settlement agreement (MSA), which was merged into the divorce decree. The district court modified the decree. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court abused its discretion in modifying the divorce decree pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6), as Appellee's assertions sounded in Rule 60(b)(1) or (3) and Rule 60(b)(6) applies in extraordinary circumstances not address in Rules 60(b)(1)-(5). View "Byrd v. Byrd" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying a guardianship petition, holding that the petition did not demonstrate that the proposed protected person was incapacitated.Appellant filed a petition for appointment of temporary guardian and to establish a general permanent guardianship over his mother, Respondent, and her estate. The district court denied the petition without prejudice, finding that, under Nev. Rev. Stat. 159.044(2)(i), a guardianship over an adult proposed protected person cannot be granted without a physician's certificate. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding (1) a certificate from a physician or a qualified individual demonstrating need for a guardianship is required for the district court to consider a petition for adult guardianship, but the certificate need not be based on an in-person examination of the proposed protected person; (2) whether the petition and certificate warrant the need for a guardianship or further proceedings is within the district court's discretion; and (3) the district court did not err in dismissing the guardianship petition because the petition did not demonstrate that Appellant's mother was incapacitated. View "In re Guardianship of Rubin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the juvenile court terminating Mother's parental rights in her child, holding that the juvenile court lacked authority to appoint a master to preside over the trial in the termination of parental rights (TPR) proceeding.At issue whether having a hearing master preside over trial in a TPR proceeding satisfies the due process requirements in the Nevada Constitution. The Supreme Court held (1) due process requires the TPR trial to be heard before a district judge in the first instance; and (2) a hearing master cannot preside over a TPR trial pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 432B without infringing on a parent's constitutional right to procedural due process. The Court remanded the case for a new TPR proceeding. View "In re Parental Rights as to L.L.S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court terminating Appellant's parental rights, holding that the district court's failure to apply Nev. R. Civ. P. 16.2(e)(4)'s mandate regarding disclosure of witnesses was harmless error.The State sought to terminate Appellant's parental rights, but the State did not disclose a nonexpert witness until after the trial had commenced. The district court, however, allowed the witness to testify at trial on the grounds that the nonexpert witness disclosure requirements in Rule 16.2(e)(4) do not apply to termination of parental rights proceedings. The district court ultimately terminated Appellant's parental rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the nonexpert witness notice requirements in Nev. R. Civ. P. 16.2 apply to termination of parental rights proceedings; and (2) the district court erred by denying Appellant's motion in liming to exclude an unnoticed nonexpert witness during trial, but the error was harmless. View "In re Parental Rights as to T.M.R." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the provision in Nev. Rev. Stat. 125C.006(1)(b) that a custodial parent who intends to relocate his or her residence to a place outside of the State and desires to take the child but the noncustodial parent refuses to consent to relocation must first petition the district court applies not only to relocation from Nevada to a place outside of Nevada but also from a place outside of Nevada to another place outside of Nevada.Mother was granted primary physical custody of the parties' three minor children after the parties' divorce. Mother later filed a petition under section 125C.006 for permission to relocate with the children from Nevada to Arizona. Mother subsequently moved to Arizona with the children. Mother later petitioned for permission to again relocate with the children, this time from Arizona to Ohio. The district court granted the petition, concluding that Mother did not need permission for the current relocation because the court had already granted her permission to move from Nevada. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because Mother sought to move with the children to Ohio and Father did not consent, section 125C.006(1)(b) applied; and (2) the district court abused its discretion by failing to issue specific findings under the factors set out in Nev. Rev. Stat. 125C.007. View "Pelkola v. Pelkola" on Justia Law

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In this writ proceeding, the Supreme Court concluded that EDCR 5.518 required the district court, on remand from an earlier appeal and upon the request of Lynita Nelson, to reinstate a joint preliminary injunction (JPI) over the parties' respective spendthrift trusts.During their marriage, Lynita and Eric Nelson created two irrevocable self-settled spendthrift trusts. When the parties divorced, the district court issued a JPI. On remand, the Supreme Court vacated portions of the divorce decree regarding awards against the trusts. On remand, Lynita filed a motion under ECCR 5.518 to reinstate the JPI. The district court granted the motion in part and imposed a JPI over two trust properties. Lynita petitioned for a writ of mandamus directing the district court to impose a JPI under EDCR 5.518 over all property subject to a clam of community property interest. The Supreme Court granted the petition, holding that trust may be parties to a divorce action and that EDCR is mandatory, does not require the requesting party to make a prima facie showing of community interest, and applies on remand. View "Nelson v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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In this divorce action in which Wife filed first in California and Husband filed second in Nevada, the Supreme Court reversed the district court's order dismissing the Nevada case, holding the the district court erred by dismissing the case immediately after the judge made a personal phone call without providing the parties an opportunity to respond.The district court judge in this case called the California superior court judge, discussed the case with the California judge, and then after verifying that the California case was filed first, dismissed the Nevada case. Neither Husband nor Wife was present or represented during the call. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a district court may not independently investigate facts in a pending matter by communicating ex parte with another court without giving the parties an opportunity to respond; and (2) where the same action is filed in two courts, and a party contests the first court's jurisdiction, the second court should ordinarily stay the action to permit the first court to decide the issue of its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court remanded the case with instructions to enter a stay. View "Mesi v. Mesi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Rajwant Kaur's motion to set aside a 2004 divorce decree, holding that the district court erred because it did not consider the traditional judicial estoppel factors before considering Rajwant's defense of duress and coercion.In 2004, Rajwant and Jaswinder Singh filed a joint petition for divorce. The district court entered the divorce decree without holding a hearing. In 2019, Rajwant filed a motion to set aside the 2004 divorce decree, arguing that Jaswinder forced her to sign the divorce decree so it was obtained by fraud. The district court denied the motion, finding that, under Vaile v. Eighth Judicial District Court, 44 P.3d 506 (Nev. 2002), Rajwant was judicially estopped from challenging the decree. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erroneously applied Vaile, in concluding that judicial estoppel precluded Rajwant's motion and failed to consider whether the five-factor test favored application of judicial estoppel. View "Kaur v. Singh" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court's denial of Appellant's petition for guardianship of her nephew, holding that the district court evaluated under the incorrect standard Appellant's request for predicate factual findings necessary for an individual to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security.In her petition, Appellant requested that the district court make the predicate factual findings for an individual to apply for SIJ status, including a finding that reunifying her nephew with his mother in his country of origin was not viable due to abuse or neglect. The district court denied the request after applying the heightened standard of proof applicable in proceedings for the termination of parental rights under Nev. Rev. Stat. Chapter 128. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a party requesting predicate factual findings under Nev. Rev. Stat. 3.2203 need only show that such findings are warranted by a preponderance of the evidence. View "In re Guardianship of B.A.A.R." on Justia Law