Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Family Law
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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from an order setting aside a default order modifying child support and setting the matter for a status hearing, holding that the order was not a final order.Sybil Porter filed a complaint for modification of a divorce decree awarding her custody of the parties' two children and ordering Dustin Porter to pay child support, alleging that there had been a substantial and material change of circumstances necessitating a modification due to a change of income. The court entered an order of modification after a hearing at which Dustin did not appear. The court subsequently vacated its order and set a status hearing. Sybil appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that because the default order modifying child support and setting the matter for a status hearing did not affect a substantial right of the parties it was not a final order. View "Porter v. Porter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dissolving the marriage of Daniel Cornwell and Melanie Cornwell, holding that the district court did not err in using the immediate offset method of valuation to value the martial portion of Daniel's pension.Both parties appealed in this case. Daniel argued that the district court erred in using the immediate offset method to value his pension. On cross-appeal, Melanie argued that the district court erred in not awarding her attorney fees and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion by using the immediate offset method of valuation and to accordingly value and divide the estate; and (2) did not err in not awarding Melanie attorney fees and costs. View "Cornwell v. Cornwell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Mother's request to move the children she shared with Father out of state to live with her new husband and in modifying custody, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.After the parties divorced, Mother was awarded sole physical custody over the children, subject to parenting time with Father. When Mother remarried, she filed her removal request. The trial court denied the request, concluding that the move was not in the children's best interests. Instead, the trial court awarded sole physical custody over the children to Father, subject to Mother's parenting time. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying removal and modifying custody. View "Korth v. Korth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the county court purporting to discharge the Office of Public Guardian (OPG) and appoint the ward's parents as successor coguardians over their objection, holding that the parents had standing to appeal and that the Public Guardianship Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-4101 to 30-4118, did not permit the discharge of the OPG.Nicholas was an adult with severe mental illness who was in need of a guardian. His parents served as his court-appointed coguardians until they petitioned to have the OPG appointed as Nicholas's guardian pursuant to the Act. The county court appointed the OPG as Nicholas's guardian, but OPG later filed a motion for discharge, asserting that Nicholas's parents should be named successor guardians. After a hearing, the court granted the OPG's motion for discharge and directed that Nicholas's parents be appointed his successor coguardians. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the OPG failed to prove that its services were no longer necessary, and therefore, the county court erred in discharging the OPG under section 30-4117. View "In re Guardianship of Nicholas H." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the county court determining that it lacked authority to permit adoption by a same-sex married couple, holding that the plain language of Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-101 permits a same-sex married couple to adopt a minor child.Kelly and Maria filed a petition to adopt Yasmin. The county court denied the request, determining that it did not have the authority to permit adoption by a "wife and wife." The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the county court erred in determining that it lacked jurisdiction to permit a same-sex married couple to adopt a child. View "In re Adoption of Yasmin S." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the district court ordering Mother to allow grandparent visitation and finding Mother in contempt when she refused, holding that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.Grandmother petitioned the district court requesting visitation with Child. The district court granted the request for grandparent visitation. The court later found Mother to be in contempt of court and ordered her to allow visitation between Grandparent and Child. Mother filed a motion to vacate and strike the visitation order, arguing that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding (1) because the biological father was an indispensable party to the action but was not included in the proceedings the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to enter the order granting grandparent visitation; and (2) because the order granting grandparent visitation was void, the order finding Mother in contempt of the order was also void. View "Davis v. Moats" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court finding that the divorce decree in this case required Father to pay for his daughter's college education and automobile, holding that there was no merit to Father's arguments on appeal.In this contempt proceeding, the district court concluded that the decree clearly required Father to pay the automobile expenses and ordered him to provide Mother with documentation of the college savings account for his daughter. On appeal, Father argued that the district court order was punitive and thus wrong entered in a civil contempt proceeding, and that the district court should have found that he was not obligated to pay for the college and car expenses because his daughter had repudiated her relationship with him. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in rejecting Father's arguments and requiring that he pay his daughter's college and automobile expenses. View "Johnson v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant's complaint to modify the parties' divorce decree and parenting plan with the ultimate objective of allowing her to move with the parties' children to Nebraska, holding that the district court correctly determined that proper jurisdiction of the issue is with Arizona.After the decree and parenting plan were entered, the district court entered an order modifying the parenting plan to permit the parties to move from Nebraska to Arizona. After the parties and the children moved to Arizona Appellant filed the current complaint. The district court dismissed the complaint to modify, determining that it lacked continuing exclusive jurisdiction over the child custody determination and that proper jurisdiction of the current issue is with Arizona. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court's jurisdictional ruling was proper and that Appellant's assignments of error were without merit. View "Hogan v. Hogan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the district court denying Father's motion to modify parenting time, holding that the district court abused its discretion.At issue was the interpretation of a provision in the parties' custody agreement incorporated into the divorce decree stating that if a dispute over modification were submitted to a court, the court would apply the "then-governing legal standard." In denying Father's motion, the district court concluded that although more parenting time with Father would be in the child's best interests, Father failed to demonstrate a material change in circumstances. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the case, holding (1) the agreement incorporated into the decree did not purport to set forth the legal standard under which a court could adjudicate a complaint to modify; and (2) there was a material change in circumstances. View "Weaver v. Weaver" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed an order of modification, holding that Appellant was not entitled to assign error to a consent judgment that reflected her negotiated agreement and that was entered at her request.In 2010, the parties' marriage was dissolved by the district court. Appellant was awarded sole legal and physical custody of the parties' two minor children, and Appellee was ordered to pay monthly child support. The decree was subsequently modified to approve a downward deviation in Appellee's child support. In 2016, the district court entered a stipulated order of modification approving the parties' agreement to increase the amount of Appellee's monthly child support obligation but continuing the existing downward deviation. In 2019, Appellant filed the current complaint to modify requesting that the downward deviation in child support be eliminated. The court entered an order of modification reflecting an agreement of the parties. Appellant appealed, arguing that the court erred in determining that Appellee was still entitled to a downward deviation in his child support obligation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the order of modification approved the parties' agreement on the disputed issues it was, in all respects, a consent judgment entered at the request of the parties, and therefore, Appellant could not complain of error on appeal. View "Mahlendorf v. Mahlendorf" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law