At Pecos Law Group, we are always looking for a challenging appeal to the Nevada Appellate courts to correct mistakes and injustices created by unfair or legally incorrect Family Court Decisions. Following are the appeals we currently have in progress:
Private Religious Schools
This case involves a parent who requested that his child attend a private school with a religious orientation. The father was willing to pay for all of the costs associated with the school and provide any transportation as needed. Although the child wanted to attend the private school, the mother objected on the pretext of its religious orientation. The family court judge found that the private school would serve the best interests of the child, but denied the father’s requested because of the mother’s religious objection. Pecos Law Group argued the case in front of the Nevada Supreme Court en banc in September 2017 and anticipates the court will render an opinion in the next few weeks.
The parents agreed to a split physical custody arrangement of their children where mom has primary physical custody of one child and the parents share joint physical custody of the other. Based on this split custody arrangement, the district court awarded mom child support. The award does not appear to be in compliance with Nevada child support statutes and district court did not provide how the award was calculated. Pecos Law Group appealed the child support award and asked the Nevada Supreme Court to determine a formula for split-custody situations. The full Nevada Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case on September 7, 2017 in Carson City. Pecos Law Group is hopeful that the Supreme Court will issue a published decision in this case because at present there is no law on how child support should be calculated in a split-custody arrangement.
Same-Sex Couple Paternity Dispute
Two men involved in a long-term same-sex relationship decided to adopt a child. Because the men were not domestic partners or married, they decided they would adopt the child through two separate adoptions. After the first man adopted, he decided that he did not want the second man to adopt the child. Despite the lack of a second adoption, the second man raised the child as his. This continued for a considerable amount of time until the first man cut off the child’s contact with the second man. On June 22, 2017, the Nevada Supreme Court issued a published decision in which all seven justices agreed with Pecos Law Group’s argument that the second man was indeed the second father of the child. Four justices agreed with the argument that the doctrine of equitable adoption applied, while the remaining three agreed that the paternity statute was applicable to the parties.
The district court sentenced a woman to jail for contempt due to an alleged failure to follow court orders related to a mandatory testing program. Pecos Law Group succeeded in obtaining a stay of the sentence from the district court and have petitioned the Nevada Supreme Court for a writ mandating a reversal of the sentence. The sentence should not have been issued because it was not supported by a proper affidavit; the order upon which contempt was determined was ambiguous; the conduct was not willful; the court failed to provide constitutional safeguards where criminal contempt was at issue; and sanctioning a parent with jail time in the context of the case is against public policy. The Nevada Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case, and on March 28, 2017 ordered the district court to vacate its contempt sanctions against Pecos Law Group’s client.
Separation Agreements and Divorce
Husband and wife entered into a detailed separation agreement. Among its other terms, the separation agreement divided the entirety of the parties’ property and debts, and provided that neither party would pay support to the other. On the same day, the parties signed their separation agreement, the parties also signed their self-help form joint petition for divorce that stated, as a reflection of their separation agreement, that the parties had already divided their community property and that neither party should receive alimony. The joint petition was incorporated into their decree of divorce a couple of weeks later, but the separation agreement was not mentioned.
A year and a half after the divorce, and after performing under the terms of the separation agreement, Husband filed a motion asking the court to declare that the separation agreement was extinguished upon the entry of the parties’ decree of divorce. The district court agreed with the Husband, finding that the separation agreement was void because it was not merged into the decree; it was meant to only cover the period prior to entry of the decree; and it contained provisions that the court interpreted as improper alimony terms. Pecos Law Group has appealed the district court’s decision alleging numerous errors, and arguing that Nevada law provides that the separation agreement survives the decree as a separate contract because it was not merged or even mentioned in the decree. Husband has not yet filed his answering brief in this case.
The mother gave birth to a child while estranged from the child’s father. While both parents agreed upon the child’s first name and middle name, the mother unilaterally gave the child her last name. At the father’s request, the district court changed the child’s last name and ordered that it be hyphenated so that the child would carry both parents’ namesakes. Mother appealed. Pecos Law Group represents the father and has successfully defended the district court’s decision to hyphenate the child’s last name. In April 2017, the Nevada Supreme Court published its opinion in the case and held that in an initial naming dispute between married parents, district court must determine the child’s surname based only on considerations of the child’s best interest.
International Child Relocation
An ex-wife sought permission from the district court to move with the parties’ young child to Germany where her new husband is stationed in the U.S. military. After trial, the district court determined that the mother had proven facts sufficient for the court to grant the mother permission to relocate with the child. In a recent appeal, the Pecos Law Group successfully defended the district court’s decision to permit relocation.
Termination of Parental Rights
In the midst of the parties’ dissolution proceeding in 2007, the father consented to the termination of his parental rights to the parties’ children. Almost nine years later, the father filed a motion to modify the decree and reinstate his parental rights. After a brief hearing and without taking any evidence, the district court granted the father’s motion and set aside the nine-year-old termination of parental rights, and invalidated the adoption of the children by another man. The Pecos Law Group represents the mother in her appeal of the district court’s order.
Child Custody and Attorneys Fees
The district court, after multiple hearings, and two trials, entered its decree of divorce in which it confirmed its award of primary physical custody of the children to the mother and awarded her over $60,000.00 in attorney’s fees. On appeal, the husband took issue with virtually every order the district court made in the case, especially the award of attorneys fees to the mother. The Pecos Law Group defended the district court’s orders in favor of the mother, and the Nevada Supreme Court recently affirmed them in all respects.
Child Support Deviation, Attorneys Fees, and Distribution of Property and Debt
After multiple hearings and a two-day divorce trial, the district court awarded the mother primary physical custody of the parties’ two children, child support with an upward deviation, alimony, and $5,000 in attorney’s fees, and distributed the marital property and debt between the parties. The father appealed the district court’s decision regarding virtually everything, but the issues that counsel argued in front of the Court of Appeals pertained to the upward deviation in the child support award, the award of attorney’s fees, $2,000 of which the court awarded after finding the father in contempt and $3,000 of which was ordered after trial, and the distribution of property and debt. Pecos Law Group defended the district court’s order in favor of the mother, and now awaits a decision from the Nevada Court of Appeals.
Agreement to Sell Home
The parties Decree of Divorce states that the Appellant is entitled to $54,000.00 “from the sale of the sale of the house.” The decree continues by stating that the money will be paid to the appellant “when the house is sold” and that in the meantime, Appellant gets “nothing.”
The Appellant is arguing that the district court erred by “failing to imply a reasonable time frame for performance under the stipulated Decree where time for performance, an essential term, was not contained in the decree.”
In defending the appeal, Pecos Law Group will argue that the terms of the decree show that the parties specifically intended to allow Appellant to sell the home at her discretion, and therefore, the court may not arbitrarily set a time limit.
This case is currently in the briefing stages and will likely not be decided until sometime in 2018.