Legal Information: Nevada


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March 22, 2022

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)

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