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Know the Laws: Nevada

UPDATED May 29, 2012

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Please consider getting help from an organization in your area before proceeding with court action. To find an organization, please go to the NV Where to find Help page.

Definitions

back to topWhat is custody?

Custody is the legal responsibility for the care and control of your child (under 18).

In Nevada, when a judge gives you a custody order, the order will address two things: legal custody and physical custody.*

Legal custody is the right to make major decisions about your child.  If you are granted legal custody of your child, you may have the right to make the following types of decisions:

  • where your child goes to school;
  • whether your child gets a particular type of medical care; and
  • what kind of religious training your child receives.

Physical custody is the actual physical care and supervision of your child.**  If you are granted physical custody, your child may live with you on a day-to-day basis.

A custody order may be either long-term or temporary - but even long-term orders may be changed by a judge at a later date.

* See N.R.S. § 125A.055(1)
** N.R.S. § 125A.145

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back to topWhat options are there for legal custody?

There are two types of legal custody: sole legal custody and joint legal custody.

If you have sole legal custody, you alone have the right to make all of the decisions affecting your child's life.

If you have joint legal custody, you share the right to make decisions about your child's life with the child's other parent.

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back to topWhat options are there for physical custody?

There are three types of physical custody: sole physical custody, primary physical custody and joint physical custody.

If you have sole physical custody, then you alone are responsible for your child's full-time physical care and supervision. Usually, judges will grant sole physical custody to a parent only if the other parent is completely out of the child's life or is dangerous and abusive.

If you have primary physical custody, then your child is under your physical care and supervision for the majority of the time. Even if one parent has primary physical custody, the other parent may still have a right to visit the child.

If you have joint physical custody, you share physical care and supervision with the child's other parent.

In Nevada, it is common for a judge to grant primary physical custody to one parent and joint legal custody to both parents.

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back to topWhat is joint custody?

Joint custody means that legal and/or physical custody is shared by both parents.  If you get a joint custody order, it's important to know whether you have joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both.

In Nevada, a judge could grant joint legal custody to both parents if both parents are in agreement – however, the judge might still grant sole or primary physical custody to one parent.*  Even if your child lives with you full-time, your former spouse can still have a right to make decisions about your child's life if s/he has joint legal custody.

There is a preference in Nevada for both parents to have a continuing relationship and frequent contact with the child, and to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing after the parents have become separated.**  A judge will generally grant joint custody if s/he thinks it is in the best interests of the child.***  However, there is an exception for domestic violence victims.  Read Can a parent who committed violence get custody? to learn more.

* N.R.S. § 125.490(2)
** N.R.S. § 125.460
*** N.R.S. § 125.480(1)

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WomensLaw.org thanks Veronica Thronson, Directing Attorney of the Domestic Violence Project at Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada for her review of this information.

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