Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada

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A parent cannot be compelled to admit to a criminal act in order to maintain his or her parental rights. Appellant was required to admit to a crime for her to be considered in compliance with her case plan. The district court eventually terminated Appellant’s parental rights. On appeal, Appellant argued that terminating her parental rights on the sole basis that she refused to admit that she intentionally harmed her child violated her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding (1) the district court’s termination of Appellant’s parental rights constituted a violation of her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination; and (2) there was not substantial evidence supporting the district court’s findings of parental fault and that termination of Appellant’s parental rights was in the best interests of her children. View "In re Parental Rights as to A.D.L." on Justia Law

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Nev. Rev. Stat. 18.015, which provides for the enforcement of liens for attorney fees, as amended in 2013, provides for the enforcement of a retaining lien for attorney fees. Respondent represented Appellant in a paternity action. Respondent later filed and served a notice of a retaining lien against Appellant for $13,701 for unpaid legal fees. Respondent filed a motion asking the district court to adjudicate the rights of counsel, for enforcement of attorney’s lien, and for a judgment for attorney fees. Appellant argued that Respondent was asserting a charging lien, not a retaining lien, and that the purported charging lien failed as a matter of law. The district court granted Respondent’s motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the plain language of section 18.015 unambiguously permits an attorney to enforce a retaining lien; and (2) the district court did not err by enforcing Respondent’s valid retaining lien against Appellant under section 18.015. View "Fredianelli v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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The district court violated Mother’s due process rights by entering a sua sponte order permanently increasing Father’s visitation with the parties’ minor children and reducing Mother’s custodial time without sufficient notice to Mother. The district court based its order on unrecorded interviews that the judge conducted independently with the parties’ children and an unsubstantiated Child Protective Services report that was not admitted into evidence. The Supreme Court reversed the order modifying child custody, holding (1) the district court’s sua sponte order, which in effect granted Father’s oral request for a change in visitation at an evidentiary hearing, violated due process; (2) a court is required to follow the provisions of the Uniform Child Witness Testimony by Alternative Methods Act set forth in Nev. Rev. Stat. 50.500 et seq.; and (3) the district court erred in this case by disregarding Nev. Rev. Stat. 50.500 et seq. when it decided to interview the children off the record. View "Gordon v. Geiger" on Justia Law

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Poverty is not, and never has been, a valid basis for terminating one’s parental rights. After a bench trial, the district court issued an order terminating Mother’s parental rights to all four of her children. Mother appealed, arguing that the district court terminated her parental rights due to her poverty and that poverty is not a valid basis for terminating one’s parental rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) while poverty is not a valid basis for terminating a parent’s parental rights, the district court is not prohibited from considering a parent’s failure to maintain housing or employment in contravention of a state-issued case plan; and (2) substantial evidence supported the district court’s finding that Mother’s failure to reunite with her children was not due to her poverty and that she made only token efforts toward reunification. View "In re Parental Rights as to R.T." on Justia Law

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Pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 130.207, a Nevada child support order controlled over a Norway order. Mother and Father were granted a divorce from a Nevada court. Their children habitually resided in Norway. At issue in this case was a child support order entered in Norway. The district court concluded that the Nevada support order controlled because Norway lacked jurisdiction to modify the Nevada order. Father appealed this conclusion as well as other court rulings. The court of appeals concluded that Nevada’s child support order controlled over Norway’s order and that it lacked jurisdiction to consider Father’s challenges to certain contempt findings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Nevada child support order controlled; and (2) this court had jurisdiction over the challenges to contempt findings and sanctions in the order appealed from, but the court need not consider them because Appellant failed to assert cogent arguments or provide relevant authority in support of his claims. View "Vaile v. Porsboll" on Justia Law

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The district court did not err in granting Robert Boynes paternity over a child adopted by Ken Nguyen under the equitable adoption doctrine. During their relationship, Rob and Ken decided to adopt a child. The parties ended their relationship mere months after they received the newborn child. Ken later formally adopted the child. Thereafter, Rob filed a petition for paternity and custody. The district court concluded that Rob was entitled to a presumption of paternity under Nev. Rev. Stat. 126.051(1)(d) and that Rob and Ken were to have joint legal and physical custody of the child. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in granting Rob paternity under the equitable adoption doctrine; (2) the district court’s order did not violate equal protection principals; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting Rob joint legal and physical custody. View "Nguyen v. Boynes" on Justia Law

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The district court did not violate any rules and complied with due process requirements when it terminated Mother’s parental rights without her presence and ability to assist in her defense. Mother had been arrested before the hearing and declared incompetent in her criminal proceedings. A guardian ad litem was appointed, however, and the district court continued the trial in the parental rights case numerous times due to Mother’s inability to regain competence. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision, holding that the district court (1) properly proceeded with the parental rights despite despite Mother’s incompetence to stand trial in her criminal case; and (2) had personal jurisdiction over Mother despite allegations of insufficient service because Mother waived the issue. View "In re Parental Rights as to M.M.L." on Justia Law

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After they were married, Mother and Father had a child. Before their child was born, the parties failed to reach an agreement regarding the child’s surname. The parties were estranged when their child was born, and Mother gave the child her surname. Thereafter, Father filed a complaint for divorce and filed a petition to change the child’s surname to his last name. The district court determined that the child’s name should be hyphenated to include both parents’ surnames. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that it was in the best interest of the child to change the child’s surname. View "Petit v. Adrianzen" on Justia Law

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In the underlying district court action, Dawnette Davidson filed a motion with the family division of the district court to enforce a term of a decree of divorce from her ex-husband, Christopher Davidson. The term at issue required Christopher to pay Dawnette one-half of the equity in the marital home in exchange for Dawnette quitclaiming the residence to Christopher. Dawnette commenced this action more than six years after she delivered the quitclaim deed. The district court denied Dawnette’s motion, concluding that Dawnette’s action was untimely because an action to enforce a decree of divorce must be commenced within six years pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.190(1)(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the accrual time for the limitations period in an action on a divorce decree commences when there is evidence of indebtedness, which in this case occurred when Dawnette delivered the quitclaim deed to Christopher; and (2) therefore, Dawnette’s claim was time-barred. View "Davidson v. Davidson" on Justia Law

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Judgment creditor Far West Industries filed suit against Michael Mona, who, together with Rhonda Mona, was a co-trustee of a family trust. A California court found that Michael committed fraud and awarded Far West a $17.8 million judgment against Michael. Far West domesticated the California judgment in Nevada against Michael and the family trust. The Nevada district court requested to examine Rhonda and ordered the Monas to produce some of Rhonda’s personal financial documents. When the Monas did not produce the documents the district court sanctioned them pursuant to Nev. R. Civ. P. 37 and concluded that the funds on Rhonda’s three bank accounts were subject to execution by Far West pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 21.320 to partially satisfy the judgment. The Supreme Court vacated the post-judgment sanctions order, holding that the district court erred in (1) ordering Rhonda to produce documents and appear for an examination regarding her personal finances without Far West proceeding against Rhonda in her individual capacity or without the court clerk issuing a subpoena and Far West serving the subpoena on Rhonda; and (2) ordering Rhonda’s personal bank accounts to be executed upon pursuant to rule 37 and section 21.320 and to be applied to partially satisfy the judgment. View "Mona v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court" on Justia Law