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Vlach v. Vlach

Supreme Court of Nebraska

June 21, 2013

Ronald G. Vlach, appellant,
v.
Rhonda K. Vlach, appellee.

1. Declaratory Judgments: Appeal and Error. When a declaratory judgment action presents a question of law, an appellate court decides the question independently of the conclusion reached by the trial court.

2. Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory interpretation is a question of law, which an appellate court resolves independently of the trial court.

3. Attorney Fees: Appeal and Error. On appeal, a trial court's decision awarding or denying attorney fees will be upheld absent an abuse of discretion.

4. Statutes: Appeal and Error. In the absence of a statutory indication to the contrary, an appellate court gives words in a statute their ordinary meaning.

5. Attorney Fees: Appeal and Error. A party may recover attorney fees and expenses in a civil action only when a statute permits recovery or when the Nebraska Supreme Court has recognized and accepted a uniform course of procedure for allowing attorney fees.

6. Declaratory Judgments: Parties. A declaratory judgment action is to declare the rights, status, or other legal relations between the parties.

7. Declaratory Judgments. An action for declaratory judgment is sui generis; whether such action is to be treated as one at law or one in equity is to be determined by the nature of the dispute.

8. Divorce: Attorney Fees: Appeal and Error. In an action for the dissolution of marriage, the award of attorney fees is discretionary with the trial court, is reviewed de novo on the record, and will be affirmed in the absence of an abuse of discretion.

9. Attorney Fees. An award of attorney fees involves consideration of such factors as the nature of the case, the services performed and results obtained, the length of time required for preparation and presentation of the case, the customary charges of the bar, and general equities of the case.

Appeal from the District Court for Dodge County: Geoffrey C Hall, Judge.

Donald D. Schneider for appellant.

Susan A. Anderson, of Anderson & Bressman Law Firm, P.C, L.L.O., for appellee.

Heavican, CI, Wright, Stephan, and Cassel, JJ.

Stephan, J.

Ronald G. Vlach brought this declaratory judgment action in 2012. He alleged his 1985 marriage to Rhonda K. Vlach [286 Neb. 142] was invalid because no certificate of marriage was filed with the county clerk. The district court for Dodge County found the marriage was valid and awarded attorney fees to ...


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