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)