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Legal Information: Nevada

Nevada Custody

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Custody

Please consider getting help from a lawyer before proceeding with court action. To find an legal referrals, please go to the NV Places that Help page. In our general Custody page, we have information about custody that is not specific to any state. The page includes a section about how to try to transfer your custody case to a new state where you are living so that you can modify the custody order from your new state.

Definitions

What 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.  To read about when a judge will award joint legal custody, go to When will a judge order joint legal custody?

What options are there for physical custody?

What 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.  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 separated or ended their relationship.1  

In Nevada, the judge will assume that awarding joint legal custody and joint physical custody are in the best interest of the child if:

  • the parents agree to either or both in court; or
  • the parent seeking joint legal custody or joint physical custody has demonstrated (or has tried to demonstrate but the other parent wouldn’t allow it) an intent to establish a meaningful relationship with the child.2 

The judge could grant joint legal custody to both parents while still granting sole or primary physical custody to one parent.3 Therefore, even if your child lives with you full-time, the other parent can still have a right to make decisions about your child’s life if s/he has joint legal custody.

A judge will generally grant joint custody if s/he thinks it is in the best interests of the child.3  However, there is an exception for domestic violence victims when it comes to joint physical custody.  Read Can a parent who committed violence get physical custody? to learn more.

1 N.R.S. § 125C.001
2 N.R.S. §§ 125C.002(1); 125C.0025(1)
3 N.R.S. § 125C.002(2)

General information

What are the pros and cons of getting a custody order?

There are many reasons people choose not to get a custody order from a court.  Some people decide not to get a custody order because they don’t want to get the courts involved.  Some parents make an informal agreement that works well for them.  Some parents may think going to court will provoke the other parent, or they are worried that the other parent might get custody or visitation.

However, getting a custody order from a court can give you certain legal rights.  Getting a custody order can give you:

  • The right to make decisions about your child; and
  • The right to physical custody of your child (to have your child live with you).

Without a custody order, it is possible that you may not have these legal rights, even if you’re the parent that takes care of the child every day.  

Some people think they should file for custody so they can get child support.  While custody and child support are related, you do not necessarily need a custody order to get child support.  A custody order will not automatically give you child support.  See Can I get financial support for my children and myself? for more details.  As with all custody issues, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about this.  To find a lawyer in your area please visit our NV Finding a Lawyer page.

Should I start a court case to ask for supervised visitation?

If you are not comfortable with the abuser being alone with your child, you might be thinking about asking the judge to order that visits with your child be supervised.  If you are already in court because the abuser filed for visitation or custody, you may not have much to lose by asking that the visits be supervised if you can present a valid reason for your request (although this may depend on your situation).

However, if there is no current court case, please get legal advice before you start a court case to ask for supervised visits.  We strongly recommend that you talk to an attorney who specializes in custody matters to find out what you would have to prove to get the visits supervised and how long supervised visits would last, based on the facts of your case.

In the majority of cases, supervised visits are only a temporary measure.  Although the exact visitation order will vary by state, county, or judge, the judge might order a professional to observe the other parent on a certain amount of visits or the visits might be supervised by a relative for a certain amount of time – and if there are no obvious problems, the visits may likely become unsupervised.  Oftentimes, at the end of a case, the other parent ends up with more frequent and/ or longer visits than s/he had before you went into court or even some form of custody.

In some cases, to protect your child from immediate danger by the abuser, starting a case to ask for custody and supervised visits is appropriate. To find out what may be best in your situation, please go to NV Finding a Lawyer to seek out legal advice.

Who has custody if there is no custody order in place?

Under Nevada law, the parent and child relationship extends equally to every child and to every parent, regardless of the marital status of the parents. If a court has not made a determination regarding the custody of a child, each parent has joint legal custody and joint physical custody of the child until a judge issues an order that says otherwise.1

1 N.R.S. § 125C.0015

What will a visitation order include?

A visitation order must specifically lay out the terms of the visitation (i.e., days and times) so that the order can be clearly understood and enforced. The order must include all specific times and other terms related to the visitation (also known as limited right of custody). The order is not supposed to say something ambiguous such as “the father has reasonable visitation,” because the term “reasonable” can be interpreted differently by each parent.1

1 N.R.S. § 125C.0045(5)

Where and how to file for custody

What are the steps for filing for custody?

The steps you will need to take when filing for custody and the forms you will need to fill out may be different for each county.  To find out exactly how to file for custody in your county, you can contact your local courthouse.  Please see our NV Courthouse Locations.

Some pieces of information that Nevada law requires you to give when filing for custody are:

  • the child’s present address or whereabouts if known, the places where the child has lived during the last 5 years, and the names and present addresses of the persons with whom the child has lived during that period;
  • the names and addresses of any other person(s) that you know of who has physical custody of the child or claims rights of legal/physical custody or visitation;
  • the court name, case number and date of the custody decision related to any other court case involving custody and/or visitation of your child in the past in which you participated; and
  • the court name, case number and other relevant information regarding any court case that you know of (such as an order for protection case, termination of parental rights case, or adoption case) that could affect your custody case.1

If your or your child’s health/ safety would be in danger if the abuser (or another party) saw this information, you can request that it be kept confidential.  In that case, the information would be sealed and it can only be released if, after holding a hearing, the judge decides that it is “in the interest of justice” to release the information even after considering any health/safety concerns.2

As with all custody issues, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer.  To find a lawyer or legal aid program in your area, please visit the NV Finding a Lawyer page.

1 N.R.S. § 125A.385(1)
2 N.R.S. § 125A.385(5)

Do I need a lawyer?

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for custody, it is highly recommended that you get a lawyer if you can, especially if the other parent has one. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to find sources of free or low-cost legal help on our NV Finding a Lawyer page.

If you plan on filing for custody on your own, you can start by calling or visiting the civil clerk at your courthouse for more information about the paperwork you will need to file. To find the contact information of a courthouse in your area, go to our NV Courthouse Locations page.

At least two county courthouses in Nevada also have self-help centers that can help you with your child custody paperwork. In Washoe County, you can contact the Family Court Self Help Center by phone at (775) 325-6731 or go to their website. In Clark County, you can contact the Family Law Self Help Center by phone at (702) 455-1500 or go to their website.

If you live outside of these counties, check with your courthouse to see if they have a self-help center, too. Even if you plan on representing yourself, you might want to consider having a lawyer review your papers before you file them.

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

Can I file for custody in Nevada? Is Nevada my child’s “home state”?

You can usually only file for custody in Nevada if Nevada is your child’s “home state.”  Note: There are exceptions to the “home state rule” rule.  Nevada will likely qualify as your child’s home state if:

  • your child has lived in Nevada with a parent or person acting as a parent for the past 6 consecutive months; (Note: If your child left the state less than 6 months ago, you may still be able to file in Nevada); or
  • your child is less than six months old but has lived in Nevada since birth.1

Leaving Nevada for a short period of time will not change the status as your child’s home state. 

If you and your child recently moved from Nevada to another state, generally you cannot file for custody in that new state until you have lived there for at least six months. Until then, you or the other parent can start a custody action in Nevada, as long as your child has most recently lived there for at least six months. There are some exceptions.  

If you and your child recently moved to Nevada from another state, generally you cannot file for custody in Nevada until you have lived there for at least six months.1  Until then, you or the other parent can start a custody action the state you moved from, as long as your child has most recently lived there for at least six months. There are some exceptions.

1 N.R.S. §§ 125A.085, 125A.305(1)(a)

Are there exceptions to the "home state rule?"

Yes.  You can file for custody in Nevada if either there is no other state that can qualify as the home state (for example, if the child has not lived in any other state for the past 6 months) or if the child does have a home state and: 

  • that state’s court believes that Nevada is the more appropriate state to hear the custody case; and
  • the child and at least one of the child’s parents or a person acting as a parent have a significant connection with Nevada aside from just being in the state; and
  • there is a lot of evidence available in Nevada concerning the child’s care, personal relationships, etc.1

Figuring out if you qualify for one of these exceptions can be complicated.  If you think this law might apply to your situation, it might be best to talk to a lawyer in both Nevada and in the other state that you recently lived in. 

For a list of legal resources, please see our NV Finding a Lawyer page.

Also, even if you have not lived in Nevada for six months, you might be able to apply for temporary emergency jurisdiction (power to hear the custody case).  Nevada could have temporary emergency jurisdiction if:

  • the child is present in the state; and
    • the child has been abandoned, or
    • it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because either the child, a sibling, or a parent of the child is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse.2

1 N.R.S. §125A.305(1)(b)
2 N.R.S. §125A.335(1)

Who can seek custody

Who can file for custody? Can a non-parent get custody?

Although normally one or both of the child’s parents are the ones who would file for custody, it could be possible that a person other than a child’s parent can apply for custody.  The laws states that the first preference for custody of a child should be the child’s parents or parent.1  Before the judge gives custody to any person other than a parent (unless the parents consent), the judge must determine that giving custody to a parent would be detrimental (harmful) to the child and that giving custody to a non-parent is required to serve the best interest of the child.2  If custody is going to be given to a non-parent, judges will award custody in the following order of preference unless the best interest of the child conflicts with this order:

  1. To a person(s) in whose home the child has been living if it is a wholesome and stable environment;
  2. To a relative of the child (within the fifth degree of consanguinity) who the court finds to be suitable and able to provide proper care and guidance for the child; it doesn’t matter if this person lives in Nevada or in another state;
  3. To any other person(s) who the court finds to be suitable and able to provide proper care and guidance for the child.3

As with all custody issues, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about this. To find a lawyer or legal aid program in your area, please visit the NV Finding a Lawyer page.

1 N.R.S. § 125C.0035(3)(a)
2 N.R.S. § 125C.004(1) 
3 N.R.S. § 125C.0035(3)(b)-(d)

Can a parent who committed violence get physical custody?

Maybe.  If a judge finds that a parent or any other person asking for physical custody committed one or more acts of domestic violence against the child, a parent of the child, or any other person living with the child, then the judge will assume that it is not in the best interest of the child to grant sole or joint physical custody to that parent.  However, the abusive parent can present evidence to try to change the judge’s mind and to prove that it would be in the child’s best interest to give him/her physical custody.  If the judge is convinced, s/he may give the abusive parent sole or joint custody of the child.1

If a judge finds that both parents committed domestic violence, the judge must try to determine which parent was the “primary physical aggressor” (the more violent parent).  In making this determination, the judge will consider:

  • all prior acts of domestic violence involving either party;
  • if the violence caused any injuries, the judge will compare how serious each person’s injuries were;
  • the likelihood of a future injury;
  • whether one of the parties acted in self-defense; and
  • any other relevant factors.2

If the judge makes a decision as to who is the more violent parent, the judge must assume that it is in the best interest of the child for the less violent parent to get physical custody.  If a judge cannot figure out which parent is the more violent parent, s/he will assume that it is in the best interest of the child for neither parent to have physical custody.2   

Note: If either parent (or any other person) seeking custody has committed any act of abduction against the child or any other child, the judge will assume that sole or joint custody or unsupervised visitation of the child by that parent is not in the best interest of the child.3  To read more about what acts qualify as “abduction,” read AB 263, § 8, subsections (8) & (10) on our NV Statutes page. 

As with all custody issues, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer.  To find a lawyer or legal aid program in your area, please visit the NV Finding a Lawyer page.

1 N.R.S. §§ 125C.230(1); 125C.0035(5)
2 N.R.S. §§ 125C.230(2); 125C.0035(6)
3 N.R.S. § 125C.0035(7)

I am the child's grandparent, sibling or person with whom the child lived. Can I get visitation?

A judge may grant visitation rights to:

  • a child’s grandparents;
  • a child’s great-grandparents;
  • a child’s siblings (including half-siblings and step-siblings); and/or
  • any person with whom the child lived if they established “meaningful relationship.”1

However, it can only be granted to one of those people under the following circumstances:

  1. a parent of the child has denied or unreasonably restricted your visitation with the child; and
  2. the child’s parent:
    • has died;
    • is divorced or separated from the parent who has custody of the child;
    • was never married to the other parent but lived together with that parent and is now dead or separated from the other parent; or
    • no longer has parental rights (because s/he gave them up them or a judge took them away).2

Note: If the child’s parent already denied you visitation, the judge will assume that visitation is not in the best interest of the child but you will have the chance to present evidence to try to show the judge that it is in the best interest of the child to grant you visitation rights. The judge will consider the following factors when deciding whether or not to grant you visitation:

  • the love, affection, and emotional bonds between you and the child;
  • your ability to serve as a role model for the child;
  • whether or not you are able to provide the child with love, affection, guidance, food, clothing, shelter, and health care during visitation;
  • your morals and mental and physical health;
  • whether you will encourage a close relationship between the child and his/her parent(s) and other relatives;
  • any medical needs of the child that would be affected by the visitation;
  • the prior relationship between you and the child, including any support (financial or otherwise) that you gave to the child and if you lived together and/or spent holidays together with the child;
  • whether or not the child wants to visit with you (if the child is old enough to decide); and
  • any other factors specific to your situation.3

1 N.R.S. § 125C.050(1)-(2)
2 N.R.S. § 125C.050(1)-(3)
3 N.R.S. § 125C.050(4)-(6)

Mediation in custody/visitation cases

What is mediation?

Mediation is a negotiation between two or more people to resolve differences, which is led by a neutral third party (called a mediator).  In a custody case, a judge may refer you and the other parent to mediation to try to reach an agreement on custody and/or visitation in the hope that you can avoid going to trial.

Mediation is not available in all counties.  In counties with 100,000 people or more, mediation is required for custody and visitation cases (subject to the exceptions explained in the next question).  In counties with under 100,000 people, the court has the option of setting up a mediation program or not.1

1 N.R.S. §§ 3.475(1), 3.500(1)

 

Who gets sent to mediation? If I am a domestic violence victim, do I have to do mediation?

Even in counties where mediation is mandatory for custody and visitation cases, a judge may decide not to send you to mediation if you can show:

  • a history of child abuse or domestic violence; 
  • that you are currently participating in private mediation; or
  • that one of the parties lives outside of the jurisdiction of the court1 (usually when one party lives in another state or county).

In certain counties, there are additional reasons that mediation would not be appropriate.  For example, if the case involves multiple social service agencies, or the parent or child has serious psychological or psychiatric problems, the case may not be sent for mediation.2

If mediation is ordered in a case where there is domestic violence, your county may likely have a separate way to handle these cases.3  For example, each of you may be seated in different rooms and the mediator would go back and forth between the rooms and negotiate with each of you separately.  Be sure to speak up for yourself if you are not comfortable being in the same room as the abuser or participating in mediation at all.  If you think that mediation is not appropriate in your case, you may have to file legal papers (called a “motion”) in which you ask the judge to excuse you from the mediation requirement.  Usually these papers are filed at the time you file for custody and can only be filed during the custody case if new information comes up to support your request.4

As with all custody issues, we suggest that you talk to a lawyer.  To find a lawyer or legal aid program in your area, please visit the NV Finding a Lawyer page.

1 N.R.S. §§ 3.475(1) & (2)(b), 3.500(b)
2 See WDFCR 53(14)(b)
3 F.J.D.C.R. 25(14)(a); WDFCR 53(14)(a); EDCR 5.70(f)
4 F.J.D.C.R. 25(13)(A),(B); WDFCR 53(13); EDCR 5.70(g)

Who will the mediator talk to besides me and the other parent?

Usually, the mediator has the power to decide who else besides you and the other parent gets involved in the mediation. In many counties, if you have a lawyer, the lawyer has the right to talk to the mediator before the mediation but the mediator has the option to exclude (remove) the attorney from the mediation if s/he believes that it is appropriate or necessary.1 In other counties, the mediation is always done without the lawyers present but any agreement that you and the other parent come to cannot be given to the judge until your lawyer has approved it.2

The mediator usually also has the right to interview the child(ren) if s/he believes it is appropriate.1

In most counties, the mediator must keep confidential what was said during the mediation (except if s/he has to report child abuse allegations). However, the mediator will tell the judge if you do not show up, which could have an effect on your case and could cause you to be punished by the judge.3 Therefore, it is important that you appear for the mediation date just as you would appear for your court date.

1 F.J.D.C.R. 25(7)(B) & (C); WDFCR 53(7)(b) & (c)
2 4JDCR 5(5)(a)(3)
3 F.J.D.C.R. 25(9)(A) & (10); WDFCR 53(9)(a) & (10); EDCR 5.70(e) & (j)(3)

Who pays for mediation?

Generally, the parents are expected to split the costs of child custody mediation. In counties where mediation is required by law (where the population is more than 100,0001), fees are based on a sliding scale, depending on each parent’s ability to pay.2

1 N.R.S. §§ 3.500(1); 3.475(1)
2 N.R.S. §§ 3.500(2)(e); 3.475(2)(e)

The custody process

How will a judge make a decision about custody?

A judge will make a custody order based on what s/he believes is in the best interest of the child.  Judges generally prefer to award sole or joint custody to the child’s parents (as opposed to other relatives) if this is in the best interest of the child.  The court will not automatically give preference to the mother or father just based on his/her gender.1 

Judges look at the following factors when making custody decisions about what is in the best interest of the child:

  • the wishes of the child (if the child is of “sufficient age and capacity to form an intelligent preference” as to his/her physical custody);
  • any nomination of a guardian for the child by a parent;
  • which parent is more likely to allow the child to have frequent contact and a continuing relationship with the non-custodial parent;
  • the level of conflict between the parents;
  • the ability of the parents to cooperate to meet the needs of the child;
  • the mental and physical health of the parents;
  • the child’s physical, developmental, and emotional needs;
  • the quality of the child’s relationship with each parent;
  • the ability of the child to maintain a relationship with any siblings;
  • any history of abuse or neglect against the child or a sibling of the child;
  • whether either parent has abducted the child or any other child;
  • whether either parent (or any other person seeking physical custody) has committed an act of domestic violence against the child, a parent of the child, or any other person living with the child; and
  • whether either parent (or any other person seeking physical custody) has committed an act of abduction against the child or any other child.2 

For more information on how domestic violence affects a judge’s decision about custody, go to Can a parent who committed violence get custody?

1 N.R.S. § 125C.0035(1)-(3)
2 N.R.S. § 125C.0035(4)

What can I expect to happen in court during the custody case?

Often times, the parents will come to an agreement about child custody.  A judge will review that agreement and, under most circumstances, turn it into a formal court order.  Only a court order can be enforced by the court if one person violates the order.

If the parents cannot come to an agreement, a judge might order the parents into mediation, where a mediator tries to get you and the other parent to come to an agreement.  There are exceptions for domestic violence victims, however.  See What is mediation? for more information.

If the parents still can’t agree after mediation, or if the judge doesn’t order mediation, then the case would go to trial.  In a trial, there would be a hearing (that may last more than one day) where both sides can present evidence and witnesses to support their claim for custody. Then a judge will issue an order stating who gets custody and what the visitation should be. 

As with all custody issues, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about this.  To find a lawyer or legal aid program in your area, please visit the NV Finding a Lawyer page.

When will the judge give primary physical custody to one parent?

In Nevada, a judge can award sole/primary physical custody to one parent or joint physical custody to both parents. Primary physical custody can be given to one parent if the judge determines that joint physical custody is not in the best interest of the child.1 The judge can award primary physical custody to either parent if:

  • there is substantial evidence that the other parent is unable to adequately care for the child for at least 146 days of the year;2 or
  • the judge determines by “clear and convincing evidence” (after a hearing) that the other parent committed one or more acts of domestic violence against the child, a parent of the child or any other person residing with the child. (However, the parent who committed domestic violence can present evidence to the judge to try to change the judge’s mind about giving primary custody to the other parent.)3

The judge can aware primary physical custody to the mother if:

  1. the mother is unmarried when the child was born;
  2. she does not later marry the father; and
    • paternity has not been established; or
    • the father had actual knowledge of his paternity but he “abandoned” the child.4

The judge can aware primary physical custody to the father if:

  • the mother has “abandoned” the child; and
  • the father has provided sole care and custody of the child in her absence.5

Note: For purposes of awarding custody, the term abandoned means that for a continuous period of 6 months or more, the parent has:

  • failed to provide substantial personal and economic support to the child; or
  • knowingly declined to have any meaningful relationship with the child.6

1 N.R.S. § 125C.003(1)
2 N.R.S. § 125C.003(1)(a)
3 N.R.S. § 125C.003(1)(c)
4 N.R.S. § 125C.003((1)(b),(2)(a)
5 N.R.S. § 125C.003(2)(b)
6 N.R.S. § 125C.003(3)(a)

When will a judge order 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 separated or ended their relationship.1 The judge will assume that awarding joint legal custody is in the best interest of the child if:

  • the parents agree to it in court; or
  • the parent seeking joint legal custody has demonstrated (or has tried to demonstrate but the other parent wouldn’t allow it) an intent to establish a meaningful relationship with the child.2

The judge could grant joint legal custody to both parents while still granting sole or primary physical custody to one parent.3 Therefore, even if your child lives with you full-time, the other parent can still have a right to make decisions about your child’s life if s/he has joint legal custody.

1 N.R.S. § 125C.001
2 N.R.S. § 125C.002(1)
3 N.R.S. § 125C.002(2)

When will a judge order joint physical 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 separated or ended their relationship.1  However, in any court case regarding determining physical custody of a child, the sole (only) consideration that the judge will consider is what is in the best interest of the child.2  In Nevada, the judge will assume that awarding joint physical custody is in the “best interest of the child” if:

  • the parents agree to it in court; or
  • the parent seeking joint physical custody has demonstrated (or has tried to demonstrate but the other parent wouldn’t allow it) an intent to establish a meaningful relationship with the child.3 

However, there is an exception for domestic violence victims.  Read Can a parent who committed violence get physical custody? to learn more.

1 N.R.S. § 125C.001
2 N.R.S. § 125C.0035(1)
3 N.R.S. § 125C.0025(1)

If I have moved out of the home where the other parent and my children currently live, will this hurt my chances of gaining custody?

Maybe.  If you leave without your children and the other parent has been doing a good job in caring for the children on his/her own since you left, the judge might consider this as a factor when making a custody decision.  Some judges might also view leaving as evidence that you are putting other priorities before your children.   However, a judge may also consider the reason why you left.  For example, if you left to protect yourself from further physical abuse, this is important to prove in court since judges are supposed to assume that an abuser shouldn’t get custody.  See Can a parent who committed violence get physical custody? for more information.

As with all custody issues, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about this.  To find a lawyer or legal aid program in your area, please visit the NV Finding a Lawyer page.

Can I change the state where the case is being heard?

Possibly.  For information on trying to modify a final Nevada custody order in another state, or an out-of-state custody order in Nevada, go to our Changing a final custody order page in the general custody information to read what factors a judge will consider when deciding whether or not to transfer your case to a new state.

This is often complicated, and as with all custody issues, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about this.  To find legal resources in Nevada, go to our NV Finding a Lawyer page.  To find legal resources in a state other than Nevada, go to our Finding a Lawyer page and select your state from the drop-down menu. 

After a custody order is in place

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

Joint custody
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:

  1. 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
  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:

  1. 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;
  2. it is in the best interests of the child to allow the relocation; and
  3. 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)