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Druckman v. Ruscitti

Supreme Court of Nevada, En Banc

June 26, 2014

IAN SCOTT DRUCKMAN, Appellant,
v.
AUDRIA BERNICE RUSCITTI, Respondent

Page 512

Consolidated appeals from district court orders establishing child custody, granting a motion to relocate with the minor child, and awarding attorney fees. Eighth Judicial District Court, Family Court Division, Clark County; William B. Gonzalez, Judge.

Kunin & Carman and Michael P. Carman, Las Vegas; Fine Law Group and Corinne M. Price, Henderson, for Appellant.

McFarling Law Group and Emily M. McFarling Benson, Las Vegas, for Respondent.

Katherine L. Provost, Shelley Booth Cooley, and Michelle A. Hauser, Las Vegas, for Amicus Curiae State Bar of Nevada, Family Law Section.

Douglas, J. We concur: Gibbons, C.J., Pickering, J., Hardesty, J., Parraguirre, J.

OPINION

Page 513

DOUGLAS, J.

" The parent and child relationship extends equally to every child and to every parent, regardless of the marital status of the parents." NRS 126.031(1). In this case, we examine the child custody rights of unmarried parents when the father's paternity has been established pursuant to statute but the district court has not issued a child custody order. Additionally, we examine the district court's decision to award the mother primary physical custody of the child and to approve her relocation with the child outside of Nevada. Ultimately, although both parents came to the court with equal rights to custody of the child, we hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting the mother's motion for primary physical custody and relocation because the court considered all the relevant and necessary factors, including the reasons for the relocation and the child's best interest, before making the determination.

FACTS

Audria Ruscitti and Ian Druckman had a child together. The two never married, but Ian voluntarily established himself as the child's father with a written acknowledgment of paternity under NRS 126.053. After the child's birth, the parties lived and parented the child together but did not have a judicial child custody order. They discussed moving out of Nevada together, but separated before they could do so. When Ian moved out of the home, Audria relocated with the child from Nevada to California for better job opportunities, without Ian's consent or knowledge. After learning of Audria's move, Ian filed a motion in the Nevada district court for the child's immediate return and for an award of joint legal and primary physical custody.[1] In response, Audria filed an opposition and requested that the court award her sole legal and primary physical custody of the child, and allow the child to remain in California with her.

The district court determined that NRS 125C.200, the statute governing relocation by an established custodial parent, was inapplicable because the couple did not have a judicial child custody order. Further, the district court awarded Audria and Ian joint legal custody and Audria primary physical custody and granted her motion for relocation with the child outside of Nevada. In this appeal, the parties dispute the nature of their custodial rights and whether the district court properly allowed Audria to relocate

Page 514

out of state with the child.[2]

DISCUSSION


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