State of Nebraska on behalf of Kaaden S., A MINOR CHILD, APPELLEE,
JEFFERY T. APPELLANT, AND MANDY S., APPELLEE.
Paternity: Appeal and Error. In a filiation proceeding,
questions concerning child custody determinations are
reviewed on appeal de novo on the record to determine whether
there has been an abuse of discretion by the trial court,
whose judgment will be upheld in the absence of an abuse of
discretion. In such de novo review, when the evidence is in
conflict, the appellate court considers, and may give weight
to, the fact that the trial court heard and observed the
witnesses and accepted one version of the facts rather than
Minors: Names: Appeal and Error. An appellate court reviews a
trial court's decision concerning a requested change in
the surname of a minor de novo on the record and reaches a
conclusion independent of the findings of the trial court.
Contempt: Appeal and Error. In a civil contempt proceeding
where a party seeks remedial relief for an alleged violation
of a court order, an appellate court employs a three-part
standard of review in which (1) the trial court's
resolution of issues of law is reviewed de novo, (2) the
trial court's factual findings are reviewed for clear
error, and (3) the trial court's determinations of
whether a party is in contempt and of the sanction to be
imposed are reviewed for abuse of discretion.
Paternity: Attorney Fees: Appeal and Error. In a paternity
action, attorney fees are reviewed de novo on the record to
determine whether there has been an abuse of discretion by
the trial judge, and absent such an abuse, the award will be
Modification of Decree: Divorce: Child Custody. If trial
evidence establishes a joint physical custody arrangement,
courts will so construe it, regardless of how prior decrees
or court orders have characterized the arrangement.
Neb.App. 422] 6. Child Custody. The amount of time children
spend with each parent is less important than how the time is
allocated when determining whether joint physical custody
Child Custody: Appeal and Error. Child custody determinations
are matters initially entrusted to the discretion of the
trial court, and although reviewed de novo on the record, the
trial court's determination will normally be affirmed
absent an abuse of discretion.
Child Custody. Joint physical custody should be reserved for
those cases where, in the judgment of the trial court, the
parents are of such maturity that the arrangement will not
operate to allow the child to manipulate the parents or
confuse the child's sense of direction, and will provide
a stable atmosphere for the child to adjust, rather than
perpetuating turmoil or custodial wars.
Child Custody: Evidence. When considering joint custody, the
focus is on the parents' ability to communicate with each
other and resolve issues together.
Evidence: Appeal and Error. Where credible evidence is in
conflict on a material issue of fact, the appellate court
considers, and may give weight to, the fact that the trial
court heard and observed the witnesses and accepted one
version of the facts rather than another.
Child Support: Rules of the Supreme Court: Appeal and Error.
The Nebraska Child Support Guidelines, specifically Neb. Ct.
R. § 4-215(B) (rev. 2011), estimate $480 as an ordinary
amount of nonreimbursed medical expenses, and that figure is
then subsumed within the amount of child support that is
Minors: Names. The question of whether the name of a minor
child should be changed is determined by what is in the best
interests of the child.
Minors: Names: Proof. The party seeking the change in surname
has the burden of proving that the change in surname is in
the child's best interests.
Minors: Names. In Nebraska, there is no preference for a
surname- paternal or maternal-in name change cases; rather,
the child's best interests is the sole consideration.
Nonexclusive factors to consider in determining whether a
change of surname is in a child's best interests are (1)
misconduct by one of the child's parents; (2) a
parent's failure to support the child; (3) parental
failure to maintain contact with the child; (4) the length of
time that a surname has been used for or by the child; (5)
whether the child's surname is different from the surname
of the child's custodial parent; (6) a child's
reasonable preference for one of the surnames; (7) the effect
of the change of the child's surname on the preservation
and [26 Neb.App. 423] development of the child's
relationship with each parent; (8) the degree of community
respect associated with the child's present surname and
the proposed surname; (9) the difficulties, harassment, or
embarrassment that the child may experience from bearing the
present or proposed surname; and (10) the identification of
the child as a part of a family unit.
Contempt: Sentences. A civil sanction is coercive and
remedial; the contemnors carry the keys of their jail cells
in their own pockets, because the sentence is conditioned
upon continued noncompliance and is subject to mitigation
Criminal Law: Contempt: Sentences. A criminal sanction is
punitive; the sentence is determinate and unconditional, and
the contemnors do not carry the keys to their jail cells in
their own pockets.
Contempt. In order for the punishment to retain its civil
character, the contemnor must, at the time the sanction is
imposed, have the ability to purge the contempt by compliance
and either avert punishment or, at any time, bring it to an
A fine is an appropriate sanction in a civil contempt
proceeding so long as the contemnor may avoid the fine by
complying with the court's order.
. An unconditional fine is not an appropriate sanction in a
civil contempt proceeding because the contemnor is unable to
avoid the fine through his or her conduct.
from the District Court for Jefferson County: Ricky A.
Schreiner, Judge. Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and in
part reversed and remanded with directions.
R. Brackle for appellant.
Angelica W. McClure, of Kotik & McClure Law, for appellee
S. Pirtle, Riedmann, ...