Garver v. Garver, No. 82471, Order of Affirmance (Unpublished Disposition, May 27, 2022)
Kory Garver and Crystal Coleman entered into a marriage with children of their own and had one child, K.G., together. However, instances of domestic violence led to the termination of their relationship and Crystal fled to Oregon with K.G. When Kory filed pro se for divorce requesting sole legal and physical custody of K.G., he did not suggest any parenting time schedule, and instead asked for the child to stay with him until the parents came to an agreement. Crystal filed pro se an answer and counterclaim requesting sole legal and primary physical custody, requesting that she determine parenting time due to Kory’s pattern of harassment and threatening behavior.
The district court awarded Crystal temporary sole legal and physical custody, and ordered Kory to have virtual parenting time twice weekly. During divorce proceedings, testimony from Kory, Crystal, and Crystal’s sons Tye and L.E., as well as oral findings as to each enumerated NRS 125C.0035(4) factor, determined that Crystal should have sole legal and primary physical custody. When the court attempted to order parenting time, Kory disparaged the court and refused to communicate. When a follow-up remote hearing was set to determine parenting time, Kory did not attend. The divorce decree was then issued, making specific best interest findings as to each NRS 125C.0035(4) factors, especially factors (4)(h) (K.G. was more bonded to Crystal than Kory) and (4)(k) (Kory had perpetrated domestic violence against Crystal and Tye).
Instead of filing a motion seeking custody, Kory raised multiple issues on appeal, all of which were denied. The district court was not found to have abused its discretion by awarding Crystal sole legal custody of K.G.; the parents were found unable to cooperate enough to share legal custody, and substantial evidence showed Kory’s constant disparagement and harassment of Crystal and his inability to control his anger. Neither was the court found to have abused its discretion by awarding Crystal sole physical custody of K.G.; both parents were unable to cooperate, there was a neutral finding on the mental and physical health factor for both parents, custody factors are concerned with which parent the child has a better relationship with (but not why), and substantial evidence supported the finding that Kory committed domestic violence against both Crystal and Tye. Finally, Kory’s actions and inaction induced the district court to make its parenting-time decision. He constantly disparaged both Crystal and the court, refused to communicate about parenting time, and did not respond or show up to the hearing to discuss parenting time two weeks following the district court’s ruling.
With all of Kory’s arguments rejected, the judgment of the district court was affirmed.
Hall v. Loftis, No. 81461, Order of Affirmance (Unpublished Disposition, June 3, 2022)
Burke Hall and Vanessa Loftis were married with three minor children until the youngest died in a drowning accident. Vanessa was convicted of a felony count of child abuse, neglect, or endangerment, but afterwards took every possible step to redeem herself and become a proper parent. Following the incident, Vanessa sought separate maintenance and joint legal and physical custody of the remaining two children, while Burke responded with a counterclaim for divorce and sole legal and physical custody of the children. The district court ultimately awarded Vanessa sole legal and primary physical custody of the children, as well as discretion to allow Burke supervised parenting time, due to extensive findings with respect to best interest factors that favored Vanessa.
Burke appealed, maintaining that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to grant a divorce because Vanessa only asserted a claim for separate maintenance. However, because Burke presented a counterclaim for divorce, the district court was empowered to grant such relief. Burke also presented three primary arguments against the custody determination: 1) that the district court disregarded Vanessa’s role in the death of the parties’ youngest child; 2) that the district court should have applied the rebuttable presumption against awarding the perpetrator of domestic violence sole or joint physical custody; and 3) that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to make any findings under NRS 125C.0035(4)(l) with respect to his child abduction charge because it was a criminal matter. He failed on all three arguments.
Though Vanessa was found to have committed an act of child abuse or neglect for the drowning incident, the district court treated this factor as neutral because Vanessa had taken every step to redeem herself and become a proper parent. The drowning had occurred because Vanessa had failed to provide adequate supervision, which did not constitute domestic violence under NRS 125C.0035(10)’s definition. And NRS 125C.0035(4)(l) specifically required a court to evaluate the child’s best interest when making custody determinations, especially when either parent committed an act of child abduction. Though the district court was found to have abused its discretion in striking Burke’s exhibits because exhibits were not substantive evidence until admitted, the abuse of discretion was harmless because the court eventually conducted an evidentiary hearing where both parties had the chance to have any materials they thought necessary to be admitted for dispute resolution.
With none of Burke’s arguments regarding NRS 125C.0035(4) being persuasive, the district court was not found to have abused its discretion in awarding Vanessa sole legal and primary physical custody. The judgment of the district court was affirmed.
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