Frequently Asked Nevada Child Custody Questions | Cordell & Cordell

Nevada Child Custody Questions

Nevada child custody attorneys provide answers to frequently asked questions with regards to Nevada child custody and Nevada custody laws.

Who will get custody of our child(ren)?

Custody should be determined between the parents/parties. In the event the parents/parties cannot agree on a custody arrangement or visitation schedule, a court must intervene and make that decision for the parents/parties based on the best interests of the child.

What is joint custody? What is sole custody?

In Nevada, there are two types of custody.

1. Legal custody encompasses which parent will make major life decisions for the parties’ minor child(ren), i.e. what school the child will attend, what doctor the child will see, religious decisions, etc.
2. Physical custody encompasses which parent the child(ren) will live with.

Therefore, when a Joint Custody arrangement is entered, whether it is legal or physical custody, each parent has an equal right to the child. When a parent is awarded Sole Custody that parent has complete control over the child, whether legally or physically.

If both parents share custody does anyone pay child support?

Under Nevada law, it is possible that when a court awards the parties “Joint Physical Custody” and they share the children on an equal basis that neither parent could be required to pay child support to the other parent.

Can a parent refuse to allow visitation if child support is not paid?

No. A parent/party does not have the ability/authority to prohibit the other parent/party from exercising their visitation if they are delinquent on court-ordered child support payments. In the event a parent/party is delinquent, the issue should be raised by motion to the court for intervention.

When can my child decide which parent to live with?

In Nevada, a judge has discretion to determine that a child has attained sufficient, intelligence, and maturity to determine which parent the child will reside with.

This legal doctrine is known as “teenage discretion.” There is no hard and fast age when this doctrine will be instituted. Its institution occurs solely at the discretion of the judge.

Do grandparents have custody and visitation rights?

It depends. In Nevada, grandparents have successfully sought orders for visitation of their grandchildren.

However, courts must balance a natural parent’s constitutional right to raise their child(ren) against the grandparents’ desire to visit with their grandchild(ren). The court will utilize the best interest of the child standard in making this determination.

What is a parenting plan, and do I need one?

A parenting plan is an agreement between the parents/parties, typically reached through the mediation process, where parents agree and put in writing between them what the terms of the visitation schedule will be.

If my separation agreement includes child custody and/or child support, can it be included in the divorce decree?

In Nevada, parties can either obtain a “legal separation” or “dissolution of marriage,” also known as a divorce. By utilizing either method, child custody and child support provisions should be included in a final decree.

What can I expect from temporary orders?

Temporary orders usually provide both parties a set of rights and obligations. Those rights can include what the visitation schedule will be, how much a party will pay in child support, where the children will live, etc. Temporary orders will remain in effect until the court modifies its order or enters a permanent order.


When will child custody be decided?

Child custody will be decided when the court enters a temporary or permanent order.

When can I modify child custody?

In Nevada, the standard for modifying child custody is “the best interest of the child standard.” Pursuant to this standard, Nevada courts have immense discretion to modify or even terminate a custody arrangement.

Therefore, custody can be modified when it is in the best interest of the child to do so.

What if we cannot agree on a custody arrangement?

If the parents/parties are unsuccessful at working together to establish a custody arrangement through the mediation process, the District Court will intervene to make the decision for the parents/parties.

What is an ex parte order?

An ex parte order is an order entered at the request of and for the benefit of one party. Ex parte orders are usually temporary orders and they are entered without a hearing and notice to the other party.

How is custody decided?

As stated above, there are two types of custody. Under Nevada law, a presumption exists that unless one parent is proven unfit, the parties will share “Joint Legal Custody” over the children. That means, both parents will participate in the major life decisions regarding the children’s lives.

The simple answer, a judge has complete discretion to decide what the custody arrangement will be.

How can I increase my chances at getting a larger custody agreement?

Be a good parent. Spend as much time with your children as possible. Take an active role in your children’s lives and be there for them.

What is visitation?

Visitation is determined by court order. An order for visitation provides how much time per month a parent will see their children.

Can a judge order supervised visitation or no visitation?

Yes. Supervised visitation or no visitation is possible when a parent is engaged in, or frequently engages in an activity that is not in congruence with the children’s best interests.

Do courts favor the mother over the father?

There is no law in Nevada that mandates the court must favor the mother over the father. However, in practice, it is not uncommon that mothers obtain primary physical custody of minor children more often than fathers.

What should I know before a custody trial?

The most important thing is to be realistic about all possible outcomes in relation to a custody dispute. As divorce lawyers, we will provide the best arguments and provide the best representation possible, but it is still possible a judge will find in the other parties’ favor.

Can I collect my own evidence to use if my custody case goes to court?

Yes. However, for evidence to used at trial, it must be properly disclosed to the other party.

Do I need to use a Guardian ad Litem/Custody Evaluator?

No. A Guardian ad Litem/Custody Evaluator will only be necessary at that the direction of the Judge.

Will my child need to appear in court?

No. In Nevada, children are generally prohibited from participation in any legal matters between their parents. In fact, the court works very hard to insulate children from domestic cases.

However, situations do arise where a child’s input may be necessary or important in assisting a judge to determine a designation of custody. In those occasions, a judge will order the child(ren) be interviewed by a court-certified mental health specialist to obtain the relevant data required by the court. This event is called a “child interview.”

What is the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act?

The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) is a federal statute that gives state courts authority to assume jurisdiction over a child and enter orders regarding the child’s welfare. This statute was generally utilized when a non-custodial parent abducted their child and fled to another jurisdiction/state.

However, by entering the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction And Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), the U.S. Congress has supplemented and modified the PKPA to better encompass all issues related to parental abduction of children.

For a more in-depth analysis of relevant child abduction statutes, please see 28 U.S.C. § 1738A and N.R.S. §125A.005 – §125A.605.

What if my wife tries to move the kids out state?

In Nevada, when a parent intends to relocate with a minor child out of the jurisdiction of Nevada, the moving parent must either obtain permission from the other parent or obtain an order from the District Court allowing the relocation with the minor child to occur.

Can a parent change the child’s last name without the other parent’s permission?

Generally, no. However, there are certain circumstances when a parent can unilaterally change a child’s name. Typically, the parent wishing to change the child’s name must obtain an order issued by the court granting the name change.

If I have custody, will I receive Child Support?

It depends. In Nevada, child support is usually established by the designation of custody granted by a court and the relative incomes of both parents. See N.R.S. 125B.070 and N.R.S. 125B.080.