Williams v. Williams, No. 83263, Order Affirming in Part, Vacating in Part, and Remanding (Unpublished Disposition, Aug. 19, 2022)

Herman Williams and Alecia Williams were married with four children, three boys and one girl. Herman worked as a tow truck driver while Nadine, after taking out student loans, earned a master’s degree in nursing and worked as a nurse. In 2018, Nadine physically disciplined their daughter, A.W., which gave rise to a CPS investigation; on another occasion, Nadine committed an act of domestic violence against her mother, Phyllis Gayle. In 2019, Herman took the children and left the marital residence, and Phyllis moved in with him by paying $700/month in rent.

The district court gave Herman temporary physical custody prior to the trial, and Nadine received weekend parenting time. While in the early stages, all four children preferred to live with Herman, A.W. progressively changed her preference to live with Nadine and even ran away once to be with her mother. The children’s ratings of Nadine improved as time went on, and Nadine reportedly ceased using corporal punishment. After trial, the district court was persuaded by the positive relationship between Nadine and her children, and ordered joint physical custody of all four. The court then calculated each party’s income by reviewing the admitted bank records and pay information, looking at the total deposits figure on the records, and refused Herman’s request to award alimony. Herman appealed.

The district court was found not to have abused its discretion in awarding joint physical custody of the children. Nadine’s compliance with court orders against using corporal punishment, the children’s increased ratings of Nadine, and the fact that Phyllis and Nadine no longer associated adequately supported the district court’s decision. Herman also failed on his argument that the district court erred in not dividing the value of Nadine’s master’s degree because Herman did not preserve the issue by raising the point below. However, the district court may have abused its discretion in denying alimony because it had looked primarily at the total deposits figure on the bank records, which did not reflect how Herman frequently moved his money from his savings account to his checking for spending. Thus, the alimony determination was vacated and remanded for a recalculation of Herman’s income.

 

Sobczyk v. Osborne, No. 83565, Order Affirming in Part, Reversing in Part, and Remanding (Unpublished Disposition, Aug. 18, 2022)

In 2017, Christina Sobczyk and Aaron Osborne entered a stipulated custody agreement in New York for their minor child, C.O. Christina was awarded sole custody and was permitted to relocate from New York to Nevada with C.O., while Aaron was granted parenting time on a gradually increasing schedule. Both Christina and Aaron were to have independent access to healthcare and education records and providers for C.O., and Christina was to provide Aaron with updated contact information for any of C.O.’s providers. The next year, Aaron had contact with C.O. via Skype and two authorized visits with C.O. in New York. CPS visited Aaron’s residence to check on C.O.’s welfare during the second visit due to Christina’s allegations of suspected inappropriate conduct, but determined that those allegations were unfounded. Christina then filed a motion to cease all contact between C.O. and Aaron. Aaron, in return, moved to Nevada and filed an opposition and countermotion asserting that the parties shared joint legal custody, sought to confirm the same, and sought an award of joint physical custody.

A hearing on these motions had the district court temporarily order for Aaron not to have any contact with C.O., but he was still allowed to obtain information about C.O.’s well being from her therapist. During trial, Aaron’s original attorney withdrew, the COVID-19 pandemic began, and the presiding judge retired. A senior judge granted Aaron’s motion for a new trial, noting that she was uncomfortable with watching videos of the prior trial to reach a decision. After trial, the district court found that Christina severely interfered with Aaron’s relationship with C.O. and ordered that Aaron and Christina would have joint legal custody. Again, Christina would have primary physical custody, but Aaron would have gradually-increasing parenting time as directed by a reunification specialist. Christina appealed, arguing that the district court erred in granting Aaron’s motion for a new trial under NRCP 63.

The district court did not abuse its discretion in granting Aaron’s motion for a new trial under NRCP 63 because the senior judge exercised her discretion to grant a new trial. Furthermore, because Christina failed to provide the court with the necessary transcripts of the motion in limine hearing, the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting Aaron’s motion in limine and by excluding evidence of his criminal history and C.O.’s hearsay statements to her therapist.   Christina also argued that the district court erred in modifying legal custody based on her interference with Aaron and C.O.’s relationship because any interference she caused occurred only after litigation began. However, the court made extensive findings supporting its conclusion that Christina interfered with Aaron’s efforts to have a meaningful relationship with C.O. and did not comply with the order by failing to keep Aaron informed of C.O.’s health and education providers. Christina also failed in her fourth argument that the district court inappropriately applied legal conclusions regarding termination of parental rights because the district court made detailed best interest findings that were supported by evidence in the record.

However, the district court did not limit its delegation to nonsubstantive issues and improperly delegated its decision-making authority in making its custodial order and parenting time schedule. Thus, that part of the order was reversed and remanded. The parties’ custody schedule was ordered to be readdressed on remand to define the parties’ custodial rights with sufficient particularity, including the specific times Aaron and Christina would exercise their parenting time.