Carson City Native Returns to the Area to Pursue Legal Career with Allison MacKenzie Law Firm

Jennifer McMenomy Joins Allison MacKenzie Law Firm as New Associate Attorney

Allison MacKenzie Law Firm is pleased to announce the hiring of Jennifer McMenomy as an associate attorney, effective May 7, 2018. A Carson City native and former Policy Analyst for the Nevada State Legislature – State Assembly, Jennifer joins the law firm and will focus her practice on Administrative Law, Government Affairs, Family Law, Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Probate Law.

After graduating from Galena High School, Jennifer received her undergraduate degree in 2010 from the University of Nevada, Reno. Pursuing a law degree, she attended Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, California where she graduated in 2014.

After graduation, Jennifer obtained her law licensing in both California (2015) and Nevada (2016). She was also employed as a Government and Regulatory Affairs Analyst for a solar energy company and worked as an attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area before returning to Northern Nevada.

Commenting on her new association, Jennifer had this to say, “Allison MacKenzie Law Firm is a prestigious and respected organization led by some of the most professional and well-versed attorneys in the country. I was taken in by the firm’s commitment to family and the community. I am delighted to return to the area and join such an outstanding firm.”

Jennifer was drawn to the legal profession as a youngster when she read To Kill a Mockingbird. She began to explore advocacy through the courts and helping others as a career choice. Jennifer is an advocate of civil rights and fair trial proceedings.

Jennifer resides in Reno with her husband and is expecting her first child. She spends her free time running with her four-legged partner named Scout, a German Shepherd, and enjoys time with family, baking, and reading. Committed to empowering youth, for the past 2 years, Jennifer has been a judge for the annual “We the People” competition, an organization promoting civic competence and responsibility among upper elementary and secondary students.

The talented legal team of Allison MacKenzie is pleased to welcome Jennifer to the organization. The firm is confident she will provide exceptional service to the firm’s clients.

For more information about Allison MacKenzie Law Firm, visit or call 775.687.0202.

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Joel W. Locke Elected as a Member of the Nevada State Bar Family Law Executive Council

Local Attorney Serves on Council to Give Back to the Legal Profession and the Community

Allison MacKenzie Law Firm is pleased to announce Joel W. Locke, a partner at Allison MacKenzie Law Firm in Carson City, Nevada, has been elected as a member of Nevada State Bar Family Law Executive Council. He was nominated and elected into the position at the Annual Family Law Conference held in Bishop, CA on March 1 and 2, 2018. Members of the council help promote the integrity of the legal profession, encourage professional growth and provide the opportunity to give back to the community.

Allison MacKenzie attorneys Joel W. Locke and Kyle A. Winter, were both in attendance at the annual Family Law Conference. The event sponsors numerous sessions aimed at furthering knowledge in matters affecting Family Law. Topics span a variety of issues such as: family law practice updates, law practice management, transgender and child custody issues, tax issues impacting divorce, and domestic violence.

“I find the Family Law Conference enlightening. Presentations have real world practicality and provide strategies and ideas of how to become a more effective attorney and litigator. It also encourages communication between judges and other attorneys outside of the courtroom setting,” Kyle Winter stated.

On his nomination and election to Family Law Executive Council, Joel Locke had this to say, “I am honored to serve on the council and look forward to having the opportunity to give back to both my profession and the community I serve.”

Joel W. Locke joined Allison MacKenzie in 2007. A native Nevadan, Joel Locke graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2000, and then obtained his law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2006. Subsequently, he was admitted to practice law in the State of Nevada in 2006. Joel’s areas of legal practice include: Family Law, Probate Law, Guardianships, Healthcare Law and more.

Allison MacKenzie Law Firm is proud of Joel’s nomination and election to serve on this worthwhile council. The firm remains dedicated to civic service and encourages its team of talented attorneys and staff to support area non-profits and community minded organizations.

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Tips to Successfully Start and Run a Family-owned Business

Allison MacKenzie Associate, Will Wagner Explores the Challenges of Running a Family-owned Businesses

Running a family-owned business can present both advantages and disadvantages while competing in the marketplace. Family dynamics in a business can add complexity to operations that competitors may not be burdened with. However, the personal and financial payoff can be immense for businesses that overcome common obstacles and pitfalls of working with family members.

Practical and legal suggestions for successfully operating a family-owned business include

Creating Structure:

While family-owned businesses often begin as a hobby or an idea among family members, as the business grows, it is imperative to create a legal structure to operate efficiently. Be sure to establish yours by creating an entity, registering with the Secretary of State’s Office, establishing separate bank accounts, and developing a business plan.

Establishing Clear Roles:

Make these roles as “official” as possible by creating titles and providing business cards. It would be prudent to require a family member to sign the same employment agreement that non-family employees sign, and subject family members to the same performance reviews as non-family employees.

Balancing Family vs Work Time:

Establish clear working hours and keep some family activities work free.

Creating a Succession Plan:

Plan ahead and have an exit strategy.

Read the complete article at: Northern Nevada Business Weekly

Family Law Series: Modification of Child Custody and Visitation

Family Law Series: Modification of Child Custody and Visitation

Kyle Winter is a Nevada native and attorney at Allison MacKenzie Law Firm in Carson City. This home grown talent focuses his practice in the areas of Family Law, Estate Planning, Guardianships and Probate Law and recently completed his third article, and follow up article to Understanding Child Support Basics, in the Family Law Series: Modification of Child Custody and Visitation.

Please see the complete article below or visit: The Nevada Appeal.

More often than not, divorce and separation leaves parties in a difficult situation having to make decisions immediately, most frequently involving their minor children. Importantly, and until a Court order is entered to the contrary, each parent is considered to be a joint legal and joint physical custodian, meaning each is entitled to be with the children on an equal basis. As discussed in a previous article, the initial custody determination is important, for it sets the standard that serves as the basis for future determinations, including the time when a parent seeks to modify the current custody and visitation arrangement.

Generally speaking, once the custody and visitation of a minor child has been determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, that court retains and exercises continuing and exclusive jurisdiction to modify or vacate its prior order or decree until the child reaches age 18. However, and because a change in custody can be traumatic for a child and tends to undermine the stability and continuity the child has come to enjoy and need, Nevada courts don’t lightly entertain requests for change. Based on this understanding, and always considering the best interest of the child, the standard used by the court to determine whether a change in custody is warranted depends on the type of custodial arrangement that has been previously ordered or agreed upon by the parties.

For instance, if the Court has awarded joint physical custody and a parent later desires to become the primary physical custodian, the court must determine whether such a change is in the child’s best interest. In Nevada, the court considers numerous factors in determining a child’s best interest, including but not limited to, (a) the wishes of the child if the child is of sufficient age, (b) a nomination of a guardian for the child by a parent; (c) which parent is more likely to allow the child to have frequent associations and a continuing relationship with the other parent; (d) the level of conflict between the parents and the ability of the parents to cooperate to meet the needs of the child; (e) the mental and physical health of the parents and the child; (f) the nature of the relationship of the child with each parent; (g) the ability of the child to maintain a relationship with any sibling; and (h) any history of parental abuse or neglect or whether either parent or other party has engaged in an act of domestic violence or committed any act of abduction. If after careful consideration of these factors, the Court determines it would be in the child’s best interest to modify custody from a joint custodial arrangement to a primary physical custodial arrangement, it will do so.

On the other hand, if the court has awarded one parent primary physical custody and provided the other parent reasonable visitation, the standard the court will consider in determining whether modification is appropriate is drastically different. In addition to proving a modification would be in the child’s best interest using the factors explained above, the moving party must also prove there’s been a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child. This additional “substantial change in circumstances” prong serves the important purpose of guaranteeing stability for the child and requires the party seeking the modification to prove both prongs. Moreover, the substantial change in circumstances must generally have occurred since the last custody determination, preventing a dissatisfied party from filing immediate, repetitive motions until the desired result is achieved.


Impact of Affordable Healthcare

Mike Pavlakis

What Does Affordable Healthcare Mean to Nevadans?

The Affordable Care Act was designed to require that each American is covered by health insurance. With this legislation, individuals are required to obtain coverage or pay a penalty, and large employers are required to offer affordable health plans that offer certain minimal coverage or face penalties. But what does this really mean to Nevada families? And, how does it impact area businesses?

Mike Pavlakis, a shareholder in the Allison MacKenzie Law Firm, recently explored these questions in an article for Northern Nevada Business Weekly.

Affordable health care for all Americans. A free and appropriate education for American children. Both are laudable goals. But what do these initiatives imply and how do they impact northern Nevada businesses and residents?

The Affordable Care Act was designed to require that each American is covered by health insurance. With this legislation, individuals are required to obtain coverage or pay a penalty, and large employers are required to offer affordable health plans that offer certain minimal coverage or face penalties. Further, insurance companies are required to provide coverage regardless of preexisting conditions, and parents are allowed to insure their children as dependents to age 26.

Some have said the employer mandate has caused some employers to rely more heavily on part-time employees, for whom insurance coverage is not required, and others claim the insurance mandate has resulted in higher premiums. To my knowledge, no one has said the goal of trying to provide affordable care for more Americans is not a worthwhile goal. Rather, the challenge is in the approach.

The Affordable Care Act has resulted in new and greater impacts on hospitals and health care providers. Reimbursements are being reduced, and expectations are growing. Expectations of both consumers and payers, including the federal government are taking the form of payment and withholding of payment. At the same time that providers are facing growing volumes due to the growing number of insured parties, their reimbursements are being reduced, and they are being required to assume greater risk. For example, hospital reimbursements are reduced for readmissions, and they are being asked to accept a single payment for an “episode of care” that will include a single payment to be shared with physicians, therapists, and others for care provided over an extended period of time.

In addition, the law offers rewards and penalties for patient satisfaction. Thus, in a world of transparency, “hospital compare” and “health grades” websites are the Yelp for doctors and hospitals. Is this good? Is this right? Time will tell.

Compare this with what is happening in education. The Every Student Succeeds Act has replaced No Child Left Behind. The goal is to prepare all students for college and careers through a program of grants and supports. The law provides for more assessment (testing), seeks to hold educators (teachers) accountable, and includes support for pre-kindergarten education.

However, most public schools rely on state and local support, so the federal law is in addition to the requirements of state law. In Nevada, this means that educators will be facing evaluations that include a component based upon the “success” of their students. The Nevada State Department of Education and local school districts have been wrestling with the components of what those measurements will include for months. Not all students and classrooms are equal in terms of ability and skills, and how that fact will relate to educator evaluations, and how those evaluations will relate to the educators’ success or failure has yet to unfold. Likely, however, is that those results will be available to the public, and may form the basis for choices.

Nevadans have seen the next generation of change in education with the educational savings accounts approved by the last session of the Nevada legislature. Their future currently is in the hands of the Nevada Supreme Court, which heard arguments on the constitutionality of the law last week.

What do these two Acts have in common? Both have laudable goals: the availability of affordable care for all Americans, and the availability of a public education which prepares every child for the world of work and/or college education. Both seek to do so through federal government incentives and penalties designed to influence behavior. Both have significant economic impacts upon the public. Both have major impacts upon the institutions and the people who provide the service of healthcare or education.

The ultimate benefit of these programs is yet to be seen.

However, from what we see in northern Nevada, our institutions and those involved with them, continuously strive to provide exceptional health care to area residents. Our local hospitals, with the various affiliated and non-affiliated providers, make available to us the best quality of healthcare through providers and modalities ranging from dermatology, to cancer care, to open heart surgery. Regional care centers have been recognized for their exceptional quality heart care by the American Heart Association, and Carson Tahoe just announced its grand opening for the new Breast Exam Center.

Governor Sandoval has made education a top priority for the Silver State. The University of Nevada, Reno is responding to this call and is currently in the process of creating a new Master of Physician Assistant Program to aid not only the education and work force development but also to assist in the ever increasing demand for medical care providers. Additionally, new emphasis in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education) has been placed in area school districts such as the STEM Academy at Galena High School, and Carson High School’s Career and Technical Education center is expanding to include curriculum in manufacturing. These efforts are a testament to our local institutions and will continue to aid job force development, graduation rates and education levels of Nevadans.

Northern Nevada’s dedication to both affordable quality healthcare and education and work force development shows that despite the pressures of increased governmental regulation, our institutions are thriving. Further, with this continued commitment and enthusiasm, more people are relocating to the area and our economy will continue on its road to recovery.

A Family Law Series: Understanding Child Support Basics


A Family Law Series: Understanding Child Support Basics

Kyle Winter is a Nevada native and attorney at Allison MacKenzie Law Firm in Carson City. This home grown talent focuses his practice in the areas of Family Law, Estate Planning, Guardianships and Probate Law and recently completed his second article in the Family Law Series: Understanding Child Support Basics. Please see the complete article below or visit: The Nevada Appeal.

There is little argument that every child needs financial and emotional support to grow and flourish. As the parent, it is your duty to support your children from the time of birth, including pregnancy and birth related expenses, until the child reaches the age of majority (in Nevada, 18 years of age) and is no longer enrolled in high school. This obligation is true even if the parents are not married and even when one parent has not been, or is not involved in the child’s life. Although there are exceptions to this scenario, this is the case for most family situations.

As indicated in the first article of this series, Joint Petitions and the Initial Custody Determination, the custodial arrangement affects the amount of child support that may be awarded in any case. For instance, child support will be calculated differently between parents who share joint legal custody and situations where one parent is the primary custodian and the other is awarded visitation rights. Specifically, when parents share joint physical custody, each parent is required to provide a minimum level of support for his or her child, specified by the legislature as a percentage of gross income, depending on the number of children, and absent special circumstances (18% for one child; 25% for two children; 29% for three children; 31% for four children; and an additional 2% for each additional child). The Court will calculate the appropriate percentage of gross income for each parent, subtract the difference between the two, and require the parent with the higher income to pay the parent with the lower income that difference. On the other hand, when one parent has primary physical custody and the other has visitation rights, the noncustodial parent will be required to pay the appropriate percentage of gross income as provided above.

Once the appropriate formula is used to determine the presumptive amount of child support, the Court has the authority in certain situations to deviate from these amounts. In considering whether a deviation is necessary, the Court will consider numerous factors including: the cost of health insurance and child care; the special education needs of the child, if any; the legal responsibly of the parents to support others; any public assistance paid to support the child; the cost of transportation to and from visitation; the relative income of both parents; and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. However, and unless specific written findings are made relevant to these factors supporting a deviation, application of the formulas enumerated above is mandatory.

Importantly, once an order for child support has been entered, review of that order must be made upon request of either parent at least every 3 years or upon a showing of changed circumstances. For purposes of modification, the law provides that a change of twenty percent or more in the gross monthly income of a parent who is subject to an order for the support of a child constitutes changed circumstances requiring a review for modification. Upon such review, or in the event someone is found to have become willfully underemployed to avoid his or her child support obligation, the Court can modify the prior support award and impute a gross monthly income on one of the parties, if it determines necessary.

If you are a parent, it is important that you understand your rights and responsibilities in regards to family law and child support. The experienced team of attorneys at Allison MacKenzie are here to provide representation in all family law matters, including the proper determination of child support. Should you require more information or have questions, please visit: or call: 775.687.0202.

After graduating from Carson High School, Kyle attended the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2009, he graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice and an emphasis in Philosophy. In 2013, he obtained his Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree from Gonzaga University, located in Spokane, Washington. Dedicated to serving the Northern Nevada community, Kyle returned to the area to begin his legal career clerking for the Honorable James E. Wilson, Jr. at Nevada’s First Judicial District Court, in Carson City, and then for the Honorable Jerome M. Polaha at Nevada’s Second Judicial District Court, in Reno.