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)