If a custody order is already in place, how can I get it changed?
To change a custody order, you will need to go to the court that originally gave you the order and file a motion to modify (change) the order. What you have to prove in court depends on whether you are trying to change an order of primary physical custody or joint physical custody.
Primary physical custody
Generally, if either parent has primary physical custody, a judge will only change the custody order if:
- there has been a substantial (significant) change in circumstances that affects the welfare of the child; and
- it is in the child’s best interest to change to custody order.1
If you are the one asking the judge to change the custody order, it is up to you to prove that the circumstances have substantially changed and that modifying the custody order is in your child’s best interest. However, if you have evidence of domestic violence that you or the judge didn’t know about (or didn’t know the extent of) at the time of the initial custody hearing, then this may be enough to get the order changed (you don’t need to show that anything else has changed since the original custody order was issued).2
If you have joint custody with the other parent, the judge will modify your custody order if s/he thinks it is in the best interest of the child to do so.3
Each county may have a different filing process for modifying a custody order, so you might want to contact the courthouse in your county for more information on what steps you need to take to file a motion. To find the contact information of a courthouse in your county, please visit our NV Courthouse Locations page.
As with all custody issues, we recommend that you first talk to a lawyer. To find a lawyer or legal aid program in your area, please visit our NV Finding a Lawyer page.
1Ellis v. Carucci, 123 Nev. 145, 161 P.3d 239 (2007)
2Castle v. Simmons, 120 Nev. 98, 86 P.3d 1042 (2004)
3 N.R.S. § 125C.0045(2)
If I have a custody order from another state, can I enforce it in Nevada?
If you have a child custody order from another state, and want it to be enforced in Nevada, you have to register it with a Nevada court,1 often referred to as “domesticating a foreign judgment.”
To register your custody order from another state, you generally need to:
- send the court the following:
- a letter or other document requesting registration;
- two copies, including one certified copy, of the order you want to register;
- a sworn statement that to the best of your knowledge and belief, the order you are registering has not been modified (changed); and
- include your name and address or a sworn statement (affidavit) that you or your child’s safety would be in danger if your address were given to the other parent;
- include the name and address of any parent (or person acting as a parent) who has been awarded custody or visitation in the custody order you are registering;2
- send each parent or person who has been awarded custody or visitation the following:
- a notice, sent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, that states:
- a registered custody determination is enforceable as of the date of the registration in the same way that a Nevada custody order would be;
- if the other parent or person wants to fight (contest) the registration, s/he must request a hearing within 20 days after service of the notice; and
- failure to fight (contest) the registration means that the registration of the child custody determination will be confirmed no further objections can be made.3
For more specific information on registering your order, you can contact your local courthouse and ask the clerk what steps you need to take and what court forms you need to fill out. You can go to NV Courthouse Locations to find the contact information for the court in your county.
After you register your custody order, Nevada courts will have the power to enforce it but usually do not have the power to change it unless certain requirements are met.1
To find out more about how to get a Nevada court to change the terms of a registered custody order, or for any other questions, we recommend you speak to a lawyer. To find a lawyer near you, you can go to NV Finding a Lawyer.
1 N.R.S. § 125A.475
2 N.R.S. § 125A.465(1)
3 N.R.S. § 125A.465(4), (5)
If there is a custody order in place, can I relocate?
If you have joint physical custody of your child and you want to relocate to another state or you plan to move within Nevada but the move is far enough away that it would “substantially impair (harm) the ability of the other parent to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child,” you must attempt to get written consent to relocate with the child from the non-relocating parent. If the non-relocating parent refuses to give that consent, you must file a petition in court for permission to relocate with the child. Both of these steps must be done before relocating. Note: The court can order the non-relocating parent to pay you reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs if the judge believes that s/he refused to consent to the relocation to harass you or without having reasonable grounds for such refusal.1
If you relocate with your child without the written consent of the non-relocating parent or without the permission of the court, you may be committing the crime of custodial interference.2 Note: If a parent with primary physical custody or joint physical custody relocates with a child in violation of the custodial interference law, and the non-relocating parent files a court case in response to this violation, you may have to pay his/her attorney’s fees and costs.3
To read about how the judge will decide whether or not to give you permission to relocate, go to What factors will a judge consider when deciding if I can relocate?
We suggest getting legal advice from an attorney who is knowledgeable about Nevada’s relocation laws about your particular situation. You can find a lawyer near you on our NV Finding a Lawyer page.
1 N.R.S. § 125C.0065(1)-(2)
2 N.R.S. § 125C.0065(3)
3 N.R.S. § 125C.0075(2)
Can a parent who does not have custody have access to the child's records?
Yes. In Nevada, a parent who does not have custody of his/her child may still have access to information related to the child and the child’s records, including educational, medical, and dental records.1 Therefore, if you are living in a confidential address that you do not want known to the abuser, you might want to consider asking the school and your child’s doctors whether you can give a P.O. Box or a relative’s address for their records instead of using your confidential address.
1 N.R.S. § 125C.005(2)
What factors will a judge consider when deciding if I can relocate?
When you file a petition for permission to relocate, you (the relocating parent) have to first show the following things to the judge:
- there is a sensible, good-faith reason for the move, and the move is not intended to deprive the non-relocating parent of his/her parenting time;
- it is in the best interests of the child to allow the relocation; and
- you and your child will benefit from an “actual advantage” as a result of the relocation.1
If you can prove all three of the above-listed things, then the judge must weigh the following factors and the impact of each on the child, you (the relocating parent), and the non-relocating parent:
- how much the relocation is likely to improve the quality of life for you and the child;
- if your motives for relocating are honorable (and not designed to frustrate or defeat the other parent’s visitation rights);
- if you will follow any new visitation orders issued by the court;
- if the motives of the non-relocating parent in objecting to the relocation are honorable (or if s/he is opposing it just to try to get you to agree to a lower child support or alimony payment or to gain some other financial advantage);
- if there will be a realistic opportunity for the non-relocating parent to maintain a visitation schedule that will adequately encourage and maintain the relationship between the child and the noncustodial parent; and
- any other factor necessary to help the judge make this decision.2
1 N.R.S. § 125C.007(1)
2 N.R.S. § 125C.007(2)