from a district court order establishing paternity and child
custody. Eighth Judicial District Court, Family Court
Division, Clark County; Bill Henderson, Judge.
McFarling Law Group and Emily M. McFarling, Las Vegas, for
Law Group and Bruce I. Shapiro and Jack W. Fleeman,
Henderson, for Respondent.
THE COURT EN BANC.
case, we consider whether the district court erred in
granting respondent Robert Boynes (Rob) paternity over a
child adopted by appellant Ken Nguyen. We hold that the
district court did not err in granting Rob paternity under
the equitable adoption doctrine. In addition, we consider
whether the district court's order violated the United
States and Nevada Constitutions' equal protection clauses
and conclude that it does not. Lastly, we hold that there is
substantial evidence to support the district court's
order granting Rob joint legal and physical custody.
Accordingly, we affirm the district court's order
granting Rob paternity and joint legal and physical custody
over the child.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Rob dated from November 2009 to May 2013. At some point
during the relationship, a decision was made to adopt a
child. In 2012, the parties sought adoption services from
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada (Catholic Charities).
At the time, Catholic Charities disallowed joint adoptions
for same-sex couples, and as such, Rob testified that Ken
would adopt the child first and Rob would later also adopt
2012, Rob and Ken attended an orientation at Catholic
Charities, and Rob used his personal email address to sign up
for an adoption account with Catholic Charities. Both parties
participated in every step of the adoption process, including
the background check, post-placement visits, and adoption
classes. Ken paid for the adoption fees. In February 2013,
Catholic Charities notified Ken that it was placing a child
with him for adoption. Both parties were present to receive
the newborn child.
March 2013, Ken's coworkers threw him a baby shower,
which was held at Rob's house. Most of the congratulatory
cards from the guests were addressed to both Rob and Ken. Two
months later, the child was baptized at the Desert Spring
United Methodist Church. Pastor David Devereaux performed the
baptism with both parties present. The baptism certificate
lists both parties as the fathers of the child.
2013, the parties ended their relationship. Around this time,
Rob asked Ken to add his name to the child's birth
certificate, and Ken refused. In October 2013, Ken formally
adopted the child. Both parties sat at the plaintiffs table
during the adoption hearing, and Ken reiterated once again
that he would not place Rob's name on the child's
birth certificate, nor would he allow a second-parent
the child's first day of placement with Ken, he has
primarily been under Rob's care. The child stayed
overnight at Rob's house during the first night of
placement and continued to do so for more than a month.
Thereafter, the child would stay with Rob during the weekdays
and with Ken during the weekends. After two months of
placement, Ken decided to hire a neighbor to act as a
full-time babysitter for the child. The neighbor took care of
the child for two to four weeks before the parties returned
to their previous arrangement for the child, which continued
until May 2014, when Ken enrolled the child in daycare. Rob
primarily took the child for doctor visits and provided most
of the baby supplies. Additionally, in November 2013, Rob
took the child to North Carolina to visit Rob's sister
2014, Rob filed a petition for paternity and custody. The
district court issued an order holding, inter alia,
that (1) Rob was entitled to a presumption of paternity under
NRS 126.051(1)(d), and (2) Rob and Ken were to have joint
legal and physical custody of the child. Ken now appeals the
district court's order.
appeal, Ken argues, inter alia, that (1) the
district court erred in granting Rob paternity under the
equitable adoption doctrine, (2) the district court's
order violated the United States and Nevada
Constitutions' equal protection clauses, and (3) the
district court erred in granting Rob joint legal and physical
district court did not err in granting Rob paternity
district court applied the doctrine of equitable adoption and
held that Rob is the adoptive father of the child. Ken argues
that the district court erred in applying the doctrine to the
present matter because this court has limited the application
of the doctrine to child support disputes, and that even if
the doctrine does apply in this context, there was no clear
intent for Rob to adopt the child to support an equitable
adoption. We disagree.
doctrine of equitable adoption applies in this case
district court's application of the equitable adoption
doctrine is a question of law that we review de novo. See
Rennets v. Rennets,127 Nev. 564, 569, 257 P.3d 396, 399
(2011) ("[W]e will review a purely legal ...