Legal Consequence of Withholding Child from Other Parent


Hello, I'm Nevada attorney Anthony Wright. The purpose of this show is to reduce complex Nevada Supreme Court cases down to 2 to 5 minute synopses so that anybody can understand what their rights in Nevada are. This is the Nevada Supreme Court case of Druckman vs Ruscitti decided June 26, 2014. A few years ago a man and a woman do not marry but have a child together. The man acknowledges his paternity in writing and the new family lived together. They discuss moving out of the state of Nevada for a while but never do. Finally the man decides to move out of the home leaving his child with the mother. The mother decides that there are better job opportunities in California and without notifying or seeking permission from anyone unilaterally took the child to reside with her in California. The man discovers this and for the first time files an action in Nevada district court seeking custody of his child and demanding that the mom return the child to the state of Nevada. How do you think the trial court ruled in this matter? Do you think the trial court sided with the father because the mom made this decision to move without letting the dad know and without getting permission from either the dad or the court? Do you think that the father should get primary physical custody of the child simply because she failed to get permission? Well the trial court decided that the child should remain in the care and custody of the mother in California because it was in the best interest of the child Dad did not agree with this decision and he appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court. How do you think the Nevada Supreme Court decided? Well the Nevada Supreme Court held that unmarried parents have equal custody regarding their children even when there is no child custody court order. Remember the man signed the acknowledgment of paternity but there was never a court order for custody. The Supreme Court stated that in a situation like this the moving parent must ask the non-moving parent for permission to move with the child or take the matter to court and ask the judge to give her permission to relocate and in so doing give her primary physical custody. So it sounds like the man is winning on appeal, doesn't it? They're basically saying everything that he argued in the state court. Well the Nevada Supreme Court ultimately did not decide in favor of the man. The man actually still lost his appeal because the Nevada Supreme Court agreed with the district level court's findings that it was in the best interest of the child to reside primarily with the woman in California. The woman proved by applying certain factors that she had a good faith reason to move, i.e. she was looking for better job opportunities and she was able to meet other factors to show that she should have primary physical custody. So even though she violated the law by not seeking permission to move it was still in the best interest of the child to reside with her in California. So the moral of the story is even though a woman violated law by not getting permission to move she might still ultimately win if she can prove that the child is better off. This again with the Nevada Supreme Court case of Druckman versus Ruscitti decided in 2014. I'm Nevada attorney Anthony Wright. Please subscribe below and leave comments but remember comments are not confidential in a public forum.

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