Articles Posted in Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court finding Father in willful contempt of a support order for failure to pay child support. On appeal, Father argued that he did not willfully disobey the support order and that the purge plan set forth in the contempt order was impossible to perform, making it punitive rather than a coercive sanction. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Father was in contempt; and (2) the contempt order did not impermissibly impose a criminal or punitive sanction in a civil proceeding because it was not impossible to comply with the order. View "State ex rel. Maria B. v. Kyle B." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Margaret and Hannah lived together in a romantic relationship in Nebraska. They moved to Texas, in 2003 where they legally changed their last names to “Whilde.” In 2010, Hannah gave birth to a baby, conceived by artificial insemination. Margaret did not adopt the child. In 2011, Hannah returned to Otoe with the baby. Ultimately, a Nebraska court determined that Nebraska law applied but considered the effect of a Texas court’s temporary order granting Margaret rights, and concluded that an in loco parentis relationship “at one time did exist” between Margaret and the child but had ceased after Margaret returned to Texas. The court awarded sole custody to Hannah. The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed. Margaret later sought to vacate an order changing the child’s name to Hannah's family name. She argued that she was entitled to notice by certified mail as a “noncustodial parent” under Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-21,271(2) and had not received such notice. The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed rejection of Margaret’s motion. The order extinguishing Margaret’s rights was effective at all relevant times: when Hannah filed the name change petition, when she published notice, when the petition was considered and granted by the district court, and when Margaret filed her motion to vacate the name change order. View "In re Change of Name of Whilde" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Margaret and Hannah lived together in a romantic relationship in Lincoln, Nebraska. They moved to Austin, Texas, in 2003. In 2010, Hannah gave birth to a baby, conceived by artificial insemination. Margaret did not adopt the child. The relationship declined. In 2011, Hannah returned to Otoe with the baby. A Texas court entered a temporary order, finding that Margaret had legal standing to assert rights with respect to the child and setting forth certain rights and duties that the women would share. In 2014, Hannah sought to register the Texas order (Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-1226) and requested that the Nebraska court set aside the Texas order and modify custody. Margaret was living in Nebraska. No effort had been taken to obtain entry of a final order in Texas. Margaret returned to Texas. Her contact with the child was minimal thereafter, Hannah moved to suspend Margaret’s contact with the child because of Margaret’s mental health issues. The Nebraska court preliminarily ordered that there be no contact. The Texas court relinquished its jurisdiction. The Nebraska court determined that Nebraska law applied but considered the effect of the Texas court’s determination and concluded that an in loco parentis relationship “at one time did exist” between Margaret and the child but had ceased after Margaret returned to Texas. The court awarded sole custody to Hannah. The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed, stating that in loco parentis status is transitory and may be lost. View "Whilde v. Whilde" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed, as modified by this opinion, the order of the district court dissolving Brian Osantowski’s marriage to Dori Ann Osantowski, dividing the martial assets and debts, and ordering Brian to make an equalization payment of $680,000, distributing the estate about equally. The Supreme Court held (1) contrary to Brian’s argument on appeal, the district court’s decision that stored and growing crops should not be treated the same as cattle herds for tracing purposes was not in error; but (2) the district court committed an abuse of discretion and plain error in its division of certain marital assets and debts. View "Osantowski v. Osantowski" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the decision of the juvenile court finding allegations of domestic violence to be true, adjudicating Father’s child on those grounds, and ordering Father to undergo evaluations and to participate in an accredited domestic violence program. The court held (1) the juvenile court erred in finding sufficient evidence that Father’s faults or habits placed the children at risk for harm; (2) the district court erred in taking judicial notice of disputed adjudicative facts; (3) the district court erred in failing to provide notice and a hearing for disposition; and (4) the remainder of Father’s arguments were without merit. View "In re Interest of Lilly S." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the county court, sitting as a juvenile court, to decline to adopt a case plan and court report recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Instead, the juvenile court ordered certain other directives, including specifically ordering that DHHS update the children’s immunizations. The parents of the children appealed, arguing that the juvenile court was without authority to order DHHS to immunize the children. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that under Neb. Rev. Stat. 43-488(2), the juvenile court was authorized to require DHHS to immunize the children. View "In re Interest of Becka P." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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In this divorce case, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals, which affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s judgment, and remanded the cause with directions to affirm the decree entered by the trial court. The Supreme Court held that the court of appeals erred in (1) determining that the entirety of the proceeds from a personal injury settlement should be included in the marital estate; (2) remanding the matter to the district court for recalculation of the value of the marital estate and redistribution of the assets and debts; and (3) remanding the matter for recalculation of Husband’s child support obligation. View "Marshall v. Marshall" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Plaintiff inmates and grant of injunctive relief enjoining state officials and their agents from denying the inmates a marriage ceremony via videoconference or enforcing the Department of Correctional Services’ policy that interfered with Plaintiffs’ ability to marry. The Department denied Plaintiffs’ request to marry under an internal policy that it does not transport an inmate to another facility for a marriage ceremony. The inmates were also denied a marriage ceremony via videoconferencing because the Department interpreted Neb. Rev. Stat. 42-109 to require Plaintiffs to both appear physically before an officiant. Plaintiffs sued Defendants - state officials - in their individual capacities for interfering with the inmates’ request to marry. The district court concluded that the Department’s policy impermissibly burdened the inmates’ right to marry and that its interpretation of section 42-109 was constitutionally flawed and granted an injunction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in granting the inmates juncture relief because Defendants could only be sued for injunctive relief in their official capacities. View "Gillpatrick v. Sabatka-Rine" on Justia Law

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Accrued investment earnings or appreciation of nonmarital assets during the marriage are presumed marital unless the party seeking the classification of the growth as nonmarital proves that the growth is readily identifiable and traceable to the nonmarital portion of the account and the growth is not due to the active efforts of either spouse. In this dissolution action, Husband, the cofounder and president of a C corporation who owned thirty-four percent of its stock, argued that none the nearly $5 million in appreciation of his stock interest during the parties’ twenty-five-year marriage was subject to equitable division. The trial court found that Husband’s thirty-four percent ownership interest in the corporation was, in its entirety, nonmarital. The Supreme Court reversed the division of the C corporation property, holding that, based on the active appreciation rule, the court should not have excluded the corporation of the marital estate. View "Stephens v. Stephens" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Charissa was pregnant when she married Erin. Several months later, Charissa gave birth to a daughter. Charissa listed Erin as the child’s father on her birth certificate. The parties later separated. One year later, Charissa filed a motion for genetic testing to determine the paternity of the child, which she requested in an effort to rebut the presumption of legitimacy concerning a child born during the marriage. Erin subsequently filed a complaint for dissolution of marriage. The court overruled Charissa’s motion for genetic testing. After a trial, the court entered a decree finding that Charissa had not rebutted the statutory presumption of legitimacy. The court further made an express finding that Erin was the child’s father. The court awarded the parties joint legal and physical custody of the child. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court’s denial of genetic testing was not an abuse of discretion; (2) Charissa failed to rebut at trial the presumption of legitimacy; and (3) the court did not abuse its discretion in awarding joint custody. View "Erin W. v. Charissa W." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law