In the Matter of the Parental Rights as to D.J.P., No. 84842, Order of Affirmance (Unpublished Disposition, June 16, 2023)

In March of 2020 D.J.P. was removed from his home due to domestic violence and substance abuse.

D.J.P. was placed with his maternal grandparents with a treatment plan requiring D.J.P.’s father, Dustin, to address his DV and substance abuse issues. Dustin made minimal progress on his case plan. The district court terminated Dustin’s parental rights. Dustin appealed.

Under NRS 128.105(1), the district court must find by clear and convincing evidence that (1) at least one ground of parental fault exists, and (2) termination is in the child’s best interest for termination to occur.

The SC found substantial evidence to support that Dustin is an unfit parent and that it is in D.J.P.’s best interest to keep living with his grandparents. Further, Dustin did not present any evidence so he failed to overcome those presumptions. Dustin even admitted to his continued drug use and failed to engage in treatment to address it despite multiple referrals from DFS.

Lastly, the SC rejected Dustin’s claim that he was deprived of his due process rights because he received notice of the allegations, had the opportunity to be heard, and was represented by counsel.

 

Rucker v. Dingmon, No. 85211, Order of Affirmance (Unpublished Disposition, Aug. 18, 2023)

Nataly Rucker and Ryan Dingmon are the biological parents of N.R.D. Nataly was married to Matt Rucker when N.R.D. was born. It was agreed between all parties that Nataly and Matt would raise N.R.D. However, once Nataly and Matt divorced, they split parenting time and Ryan began sending Nataly child support payments to assist her with the cost of child rearing.

In 2013, Ryan petitioned for custody and visitation rights. The district court awarded joint legal custody of N.R.D. and awarded Nataly primary physical custody and granted Ryan out-of-state visitation. At some point, N.R.D. began residing with Matt who the child looked upon as a father figure.

In 2021, Ryan moved for primary physical custody and permission to relocate to New York with N.R.D. The district court granted Ryan’s motion even though it made the finding that it was in the child’s best interest to remain with Matt. Nataly sought reconsideration and to join Matt as a party. The district court denied both motions. Nataly appealed.

Contrary to its previous holdings that the best interest of the child was the polestar consideration, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision stating a district court may only modify physical custody when: (1) there has been a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child, and (2) the child’s best interest is served by the modification.

Ignoring the district court finding that it was in the best interest of the child to remain with Matt the SC found substantial evidence for the district court’s finding and that permitting the relocation to New York was in N.R.D.’s best interest.  A Motion for reconsideration was denied.

 

In the Matter of the Parental Rights as to J.J.H., No. 83776, Order of Reversal and Remand (Unpublished Disposition, Oct. 11, 2022)

The district court terminated appellant’s parental rights as to his minor child without specific evidence to support a finding of termination being in the child’s best interest.

NRS 128.105(1) requires a district court to find clear and convincing evidence that (1) at least one ground of parental fault exists, and (2) termination is in the child’s best interest. The focus should be on the best interests of the child.  Reversed and remanded.

 

Marshal S. Willick
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