Friedrich v. Rousset, No. 83503-COA, Order of Reversal and Remand (Unpublished Disposition, Aug. 24, 2023)

The parties share custody of their child through a custody order entered in January 2021. A dispute over the alternating parenting time provision “during the Clark County School District Spring Break” each year ensued and Dad sought to have Mom held in contempt for violating the spring break provision in April 2021 by improperly withholding the child during Dad’s designated parenting time. Mom argued that she interpreted the spring provision as beginning only once the child began school.

The lower court entered an order declining to hold Mom in contempt and modified the custody decree for Dad to have even years and Mom to have odd years. The court awarded Dad less than half of his attorney fees and costs by finding that he was the prevailing party and that Mom’s opposition was brought or maintained without reasonable ground and with the intent to harass. Mom appealed.

Mom argued that there was an abuse of discretion by awarding fees as Dad was not the prevailing party and the court failed to articulate specific findings regarding her bad faith or intent to harass.

The Court agreed with Mom and reversed the grant of fees. The COA found that the district court did not make specific findings to support the bad faith or intent to harass conclusions. Further, there was a disparity in the parties’ incomes that the district court failed to consider. The COA remanded the case for further proceedings so the district court could apply the correct legal standard.

 

Guo v. Geng, No. 83771-COA and 82599-COA, Order of Affirmance (Unpublished Disposition, Aug. 16, 2023)

The parties met in 2000 and began a sporadic dating relationship in China. In 2012, they reconnected. Wife was working at a private equity firm in China earning approximately $200,000 a year. She contends that Husband orally promised Wife that if she relocated with him to the United States, “he would take care of her for the rest of her life and she wouldn’t have to work again.” Wife agreed, and moved to the United States. They were legally married in Las Vegas in February 2013.

Husband filed a complaint for divorce in 2018. Due to statutory residency requirements, the parties stipulated to dismiss Husband’s divorce case in September 2020. Right after the dismissal, the parties tried to reach an agreement awarding wife $100,000 in non-modifiable lump sum alimony.  The agreement was never signed.

Less than a month after the original dismissal, Husband filed a new complaint for divorce. Two weeks later, Wife filed a civil action asserting a claim of breach of contract and detrimental reliance. The civil court dismissed Wife’s case finding that her claims should be heard in the pending divorce case filed in family court. Wife appealed that ruling.

The family court entered a decree of divorce concluding that there was no community property or debt to allocate and awarding each party their separate property and no award of alimony to either party. Wife also appealed that ruling.

The appeals were consolidated and the Court of Appeals affirmed both court decisions. The Court found that the civil court did not err in declining to exercise subject matter jurisdiction. Also, the Court agreed with the district court that the parties did not reach an agreement on the proposed stipulated decree and that Wife herself made statements confirming that the parties had not reached an agreement. Therefore, the district court was correct in denying enforcement of the proposed stipulated decree.

 

Hurd v. Opipari, No. 85537-COA, Order Reversing in Part, Vacating in Part, and Remanding (Unpublished Disposition, Aug. 22, 2023)

The parties were never married, but had a child with Down syndrome in 2016.  In 2021, the parties each filed for joint legal and primary physical custody.

Extensive litigation occurred which resulted in an oral order that the parties share temporary joint physical and legal custody with Dad having parting time each week. Eventually, Mom refused to allow Dad to exercise his parenting time.

Following a drug test in November 2021, which revealed Mom had tested positive for methamphetamine, amphetamine, and barbiturates, Dad was awarded temporary sole physical custody. The district court set an evidentiary hearing which Mom failed to attend. The court’s order additionally made conclusory best-interest finding and a summary determination awarding Dad sole legal and physical custody.  The court awarded Dad $600 a month in child support, which included $180 per month for arrears from January through August 2022. The court ordered Mom to turn over all future SSI income to Dad. Mom appealed.

The Court found that the lower court abused its discretion when it awarded Dad sole legal and physical custody without separately providing an explanation of Mom’s unfitness or rendering specific findings why primary physical custody is not in the child’s best interest instead, as now required by Roe v. Roe, 139 Nev., Adv. Op. 21, *9, __ P.3d __, __ (Ct. App. 2023). The Court reversed and remanded the child custody and parenting time determination under the principles of Roe and to fully and properly analyze and apply the best interest factors.

The Court reversed the district court’s arrearages determination for reconsideration on remand. Given the reversal of the district court’s resolution of the custody and parenting time issues, the Court vacated the district court’s child support determination.

 

Marshal S. Willick
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