Robertson v. Gardner, No. 83988, Order of Reversal and Remand (Unpublished Disposition, Oct. 7, 2022)

This is an appeal from a district court order regarding child custody and support.  The parties were never married and have one child together.  Robertson sought joint legal custody, primary physical custody, and child support.  Gardner countered, seeking the same relief.  Both parties made claims of unfitness and domestic violence by the other party.  After a bench trial, the district court noted that joint legal and physical custody would be appropriate, but entered an order awarding sole legal custody and primary physical custody to Gardner, as well as establishing a child support obligation for Robertson, due to Robertson’s failure to obtain a mental health evaluation.

On appeal, the Court found that the district court awarded sole legal custody to Gardner despite recognizing that NRS 125C.002 favored an award of joint legal custody.  Additionally, there is no reference to the child’s best interest or the court’s findings or reasons for awarding Gardner sole legal custody.  As such, the district court abused its discretion by failing to tie specific best interest findings to its conclusion that Gardner should have sole legal custody.

Similarly with physical custody, no discussion, analysis, or reference to the best interest of the child factors was made by the district court.  As such, the district court also abused its discretion when awarding primary physical custody to Gardner.  The Court reversed and remanded.


Guadron v. Hayden, No. 83612, Order Affirming in Part, Reversing in Part and Remanding (Unpublished Disposition, Oct. 7, 2022)

This is an appeal from a district court order regarding child support.  The parties have one minor child who was born in 2002.  In 2006, Guadron was ordered to pay child support.  Sometime thereafter, Hayden and the child moved to Minnesota and Guadron alleges he had limited contact with the child until 2020.  Throughout the years, the district court heard and decided several motions to modify the support order.  In December 2013, the support amount was set at $110 per month, which included a $10 a month arrears payment, and reduced approximately $14,475.28 in arrears to judgment.

In 2020, Guadron filed a motion seeking reimbursement of child support payments he made to Hayden, to set aside his child support arrears, or, in the alternative, to waive statutory interest on the remaining arrears under NRS 125B.140(2) due to financial hardship.  Guadron alleged that he recently reestablished contact with the child and discovered she had not lived with Hayden for some time.  He also alleged that he was currently unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that he was the primary physical custodian of his other minor child.

The district court found that the child was now 18 and that Guadron’s ongoing support obligation had ceased, but that he should continue making the $110 per month payments towards his arrears balance.  The district court summarily denied Guadron’s motion by simply stating there was “no hardship.”

On appeal, the Court affirmed the portion of the district court’s order denying Guadron’s requests for reimbursement of child support and to set aside the arrears, as NRS 125B.140(1)(a) states that child support cannot be retroactively modified or adjusted.  The statute provides that Guadron cannot obtain reimbursement of child support already paid, nor can he seek to set aside the child support arrears that have already accrued.

However, the Court reversed the portion of the district court’s order declining to waive statutory interest on the arrears, remanding for further proceedings, because the district court failed to adequately consider whether Guadron would experience undue hardship if required to pay interest.


Brofman v. District Court (Fiore), No. 85299, Order Denying Petition for Writ of Mandamus or Prohibition (Unpublished Disposition, Oct. 7, 2022)

This is a petition for a writ of mandamus or prohibition challenging a district court order denying a motion to disqualify.  Petitioner seeks a writ of mandamus or prohibition directing the district court to vacate its order denying his motion to disqualify the district court judge presiding over his family court matter and to reassign his family matter to a new judge.  He alleges that the district court judge made a number of erroneous rulings in his family law matter and made statements demonstrating that she closed her mind to the evidence, such that the motion to disqualify should have been granted.

The Court noted the presumption that judges are unbiased and that, generally, a judge’s remarks are not considered indicative of improper bias or prejudice unless they show the judge has closed her mind to the presentation of all the evidence.  The Court also noted that a party may seek disqualification if he can show a deep-seated favoritism or antagonism that would make fair judgment impossible.  The Court denied the petition, holding that the petitioner failed to meet his burden of demonstrating that extraordinary writ relief is warranted with regard to the denial of his motion for disqualification.


Snyder v. Snyder, No. 82756, Order Affirming in Part, Reversing in Part and Remanding, and Dismissing Appeals (Unpublished Disposition, Oct. 20, 2022)

These are consolidated appeals from a district court decree of divorce and several post-decree orders.  The parties were divorced after a trial and entry of a decree of divorce, but were involved in extensive post-decree proceedings.  Raymond attempted to obtain relief from the decree or have it stayed pending an appeal, while Lauara attempted to enforce the decree and have Raymond held in contempt.  The district court held a hearing on March 31, 2021, at which time it addressed all of the post-decree disputes.  The district court denied Raymond’s request for post-decree relief because his appeal divested it of jurisdiction to revisit the decree, but also found him in contempt for violating numerous provisions of the decree.  The district court ordered him to take various actions to satisfy his obligations under the decree, but also indicated it would grant a stay provided that Raymond post a supersedeas bond.  After entry of this order, Lauara filed a notice regarding Raymond’s failure to comply with the March 31 order.  Lauara requested that the district court enter a QDRO to effectuate the division of one of Raymond’s retirement benefits that was classified as community property subject to equal division in the decree since he did not post a supersedeas bond to stay the underlying proceeding.  The district court agreed.

Docket No. 81887-COA is directed at the decree of divorce.  Raymond challenges the district court’s subject matter and personal jurisdiction, the determination of separate and community property interests, and its award of attorney’s fees to Lauara.  Raymond argues that the court didn’t have subject matter jurisdiction under NRS 125.020(2) because neither party had lived in Nevada for 6 weeks prior to when Raymond filed his Complaint.  However, because Lauara had lived in Nevada for 6 weeks prior to filing her Answer and Counterclaim, the district court complied with NRCP 1 by treating Lauara’s counterclaim as an independent action.  Additionally, Raymond waived any objection to personal jurisdiction or the manner of service when he did not raise those issues in his reply to Lauara’s counterclaim or in a pre-answer motion brought under NRCP 12(b).  The Court affirmed some of the district court’s determination of separate and community property interests and remanded others for further findings, and reversed the award of attorney’s fees due to a lack of Brunzell findings and articulating a basis for the award.

Docket No. 82756-COA challenges the district court’s March 31 order.  Insofar as Raymond’s appeal is directed at the portion of the order in which the district court declined to consider his pending motions for post-judgment relief based on its determination that his other appeal divested it of jurisdiction, that decision is not substantively appealable, as no statute or court rule authorizes an appeal from an order declining to resolve a motion for post-judgment relief.  For those same reasons, the remaining provisions of this appeal that challenge the rest of the March 31 order are also not substantively appealable.  The Court dismissed this appeal.

Docket No. 83029-COA challenges the final district court order entering a QDRO and other related relief to effectuate the division of property in the decree.  Again, no statute or court rule authorizes an appeal from anything within that decision.  Because the decision simply enforced Raymond’s obligations under the divorce decree without altering any of the parties’ rights thereunder, it does not qualify as a special order entered after final judgment.  The Court dismissed this appeal.


Ocasio v. Wirsz, No. 84089, Order of Reversal and Remand (Unpublished Disposition, Oct. 20, 2022)

This is an appeal from a district court order denying a motion to modify custody.  The parties were involved in litigation in 2020, which resulted in the parties being awarded joint legal custody and Wirsz being awarded primary physical custody of the minor child and tie breaking decision-making authority.  Later that year, the parties filed an amended stipulation and order that allowed Wirsz and the minor child to relocate to Idaho while maintaining the previous custodial arrangements.  The amended agreement also created a parenting time schedule, a three-year litigation moratorium with exceptions for emergencies and material breaches of the agreement, and a behavior order.  Ocasio filed a motion to modify custody, among other things, in August 2021.  The district court denied the motion without an evidentiary hearing and without providing an explanation other than that Ocasio failed to make a prima facie case of a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child.  Ocasio filed a motion for reconsideration in November 2021, which was also denied.

On appeal, the Court held that the district court abused its discretion for not conducting an evidentiary hearing.  Ocasio raised two distinct claims for a modification: that the amended agreement was based on fraud and that Wirsz was limiting her parenting time and alienating her from the minor child.  The Court held that Ocasio provided no authority to support her fraud argument, but that an evidentiary hearing is required based upon Ocasio’s motion to modify custody and her sworn allegations.  As such, the matter was reversed and remanded.


Prevost v. Gronvold, Order of Affirmance (Unpublished Disposition, Oct. 20, 2022)

This is an appeal from an initial child custody decree.  The parties met in 2013 and had a child together in 2014.  They moved to Las Vegas in 2015 until they separated in 2020, at which time Prevost remained in Las Vegas with the child and Gronvold moved to Mississippi.  A month after their split, Prevost filed a pro se complaint for child custody, seeking primary physical custody.  Both parties participated pro se in their trial in April 2021.  After trial, the district court entered its findings of fact and conclusions of law and custody decree, awarding Gronvold primary physical custody.  The district court specifically found that Gronvold was credible and that the evidence supported her testimony that Prevost committed acts of domestic violence against her.  The district court also performed a relocation analysis and concluded that the move was in the child’s best interest.  Prevost appealed the initial custody decree but did not challenge the court’s relocation order or findings.

On appeal, Prevost alleged that the district court “strongarmed” him into stipulating to admit Gronvold’s evidence.  The Court held that the district court was correct to review all of the evidence before making a child custody determination despite Prevost’s challenges to Gronvold’s evidence.  Further, the transcript does not support Prevost’s argument that the district court “strongarmed” him into the evidence stipulation.

Additionally, the Court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it awarded Gronvold primary physical custody despite Prevost’s allegations against Gronvold’s significant other. The Court found that substantial evidence existed, in the form of Gronvold’s testimony, to support a conclusion that Prevost’s allegations were not credible.  As such, the decision was affirmed.


St. George v. St. George, No. 84018, Order of Affirmance (Unpublished Disposition, Oct. 21, 2022)

This is an appeal from a post-decree order modifying child custody.  The parties were divorced by way of decree of divorce entered in October 2020.  The parties were awarded joint legal and joint physical custody of the two minor children.  In March 2021, Caitlin moved to modify custody, seeking primary custody for the purpose of relocating to Florida. Brent opposed.  After an evidentiary hearing, the district court granted Caitlin’s motion.

On appeal, the Court held that the district court made specific findings as to all of the factors enumerated in NRS 125C.007(1) and (2), as well as factual findings supporting the best interest factors in NRS 125C.0034(4).  Because the district court’s findings were supported by substantial evidence, and because the Court cannot reweigh witness credibility or the weight of the evidence on appeal, the Court affirmed its decision.

Marshal S. Willick