Supreme Court:

Ramos v. Franklin, 139 Nev. ___, ___ P.3d ___ (Adv. Opn No. 6, Mar 16, 2023)

Ashley and John Franklin divorced in 2022. While the divorce proceedings were ongoing, Ashley and John voluntarily signed a six-month guardianship agreement providing maternal grandparents temporary legal and physical custody of their two minor children.

Eventually, Ashley and John agreed to a partial parenting agreement, which the district court adopted, in part stipulating that no one but themselves would have permanent custody or court-ordered visitation with their children.

The grandparents moved to intervene in the divorce case and petitioned for visitation under NRS 125C.050; intervention was granted, but court ordered visitation was denied since John had provided the grandparents with contact with the children, although Ashley had not done so.  The grandparents appealed.

The Supreme Court found the statute ambiguous, since it referred to “a parent,” but found it more reasonable to interpret the statute as only permitting such a grandparental petition when neither parent was providing visitation, since it “focused on the contact that the grandparents had with the children, not which parent provided it.”  Therefore, if one parent has not denied or unreasonably restricted visits, then the petition fails, and the district court does not need to address the actions of the other parent.

The grandparents’ concern for the volatility of their relationships with the parents does not constitute an unreasonable restriction because uncertainty about he future of child custody is “inherent in parent-child relationships.”  Their anxiety about what the future may hold, or uncertainty about how relationships will play out in the future, does not constitute an unreasonable restriction.  The order denying court-ordered visitation was affirmed.

 

Court of Appeals:

Solinger v. Solinger, No. 84832-COA, Order Affirming in Part, Reversing in Part, Vacating in Part and Remanding, (Unpublished Disposition, April 20, 2023)

At trial after three and a half years of litigation, the district court ruled on seven issues.  The Court of Appeals affirmed some decisions, reversed others, and remanded.

The COA affirmed the award joint physical custody, rejecting claims of bias.  Chalese’s rebuttal expert’s report could not be attacked where Adam failed to provide the original or rebuttal report on appeal.  The best interest of the child factors in NRS 125C.0035(4) relate to the parents, not their boyfriends or girlfriends, so the award of joint custody was affirmed because Chalese’s boyfriend, who was arrested for domestic violence, is not a parent and was not seeking custody of the children.

The district court incorrectly calculated child support by making a math error, which is a reversible abuse of discretion.

The failure to make any findings supporting the order to have Adam pay 65% of unreimbursed health care expenses was an abuse of discretion.

The district court abused its discretion when it awarded Chalese Adam’s survivor benefit from PERS without substantial evidence nor adequate findings justifying an unequal distribution that gives Chalese preference over a future beneficiary chosen by Adam, where the marriage overlapped service by less than two years but the trial court directed the maximum survivor’s benefit (PERS Option 2).

The attorney’s fee award “necessarily must be vacated” and reconsidered on remand because the underlying judgment was reversed in part.

The award of more than $1,500 for an expert witness was reversed because the trial court failed to review the required 12 non-exhaustive factors that the district court must consider when evaluating a request for expert fees that exceeds $1,500 per expert.

The request to disqualify the judge and re-assign the case was rebuffed “at this time” for lack of sufficient evidence of bias or deliberate error.

Marshal S. Willick
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