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Guardianship of a Minor Child in Nevada

In some cases, a district court can grant an order for guardianship over an adult or a minor child. The attorneys at Mills, Mills & Anderson are experienced in filing for guardianship over a child or adult. We also help clients object to or terminate a guardianship. This article is primarily focused on the process of obtaining guardianship of a minor child in Las Vegas or Clark County, Nevada.

When a parent leaves a child in the care of a relative, the parties might execute a document purporting to give custody of that child to the relative on a temporary basis. At some point, the relative might want to petition the court for a more formal recognition of guardianship. The issue can become an emergency if the parent comes back to get the child but is unfit to care for the child. In those cases, the relative might decide to file a verified emergency petition for appointment as the child’s temporary guardian.

The district court can then decide whether to appoint the relative as the child’s temporary emergency guardian or take some other action in the best interest of the child. If the parent wants to resume the relationship, it is presumed that the parent is preferred over all others. However, the court might find another person is more suitable if the parent is unfit, abuse or neglect occurred, the parent abandoned the child, or other extraordinary circumstances exist.

If you are involved in a case seeking guardianship over a minor child, then contact the experienced family law attorneys at Mills, Mills & Anderson. Our attorneys represent clients in guardianship and child custody cases throughout Las Vegas and Clark County, including North Las Vegas and Henderson, NV. We can also help you understand important alternatives to a court-ordered guardianship that might address your legal concerns.

Jurisdiction in Guardianship Cases in Nevada

In order for the district court to have subject matter jurisdiction to appoint a guardian, the child must live in Nevada for six months at the time the petition is filed. A district court may exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction to protect a child who is physically present in Nevada if “the child has been abandoned or it is necessary in an emergency to protect the child because the child, or a sibling or parent of the child, is subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse.” NRS 125A.335(1).

NRS 125A.335(2), which codifies section 204 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), sets out three requirements for a district court that is exercising temporary emergency jurisdiction to enter a final order:

  1. no court in another jurisdiction has entered an applicable custody order or commenced custody proceedings,
  2. the district court's order provides that it is to be a final determination, and
  3. Nevada has become the child's home state

The Parental Preference Presumption in Nevada

The Parental Preference Presumption provides that “[t]he parents of a minor, or either parent, if qualified and suitable, are preferred over all others for appointment as guardian of the minor.” NRS 159.061(1). “If, however, neither parent is qualified and suitable, or if both parents are, the statute requires the court to move to the second step, determination of who is most suitable.” In re Guardianship of D.R.G., 119 Nev. 32, 38, 62 P.3d 1127, 1130–31 (2003).

When determining whether a parent is qualified and suitable, the district court must give “the child's basic needs [and] welfare” priority over the parent's interest in custody. Id. at 38, 62 P .3d at 1131. Thus, the parental preference presumption can be “overcome either by a showing that the parent is unfit or other extraordinary circumstances.” Litz v. Bennum, 111 Nev. 35, 38, 888 P.2d 438, 440 (1995).

One extraordinary circumstance that can overcome the parental preference presumption is the “ ‘abandonment or persistent neglect of the child by the parent.’ “ In re D.R.G., 119 Nev. at 38, 62 P.3d at 1131 (quoting Locklin v. Duka, 112 Nev. 1489, 1496, 929 P.2d 930, 934 (1996)).

The Consequences of Abandonment of a Child

“If a parent or parents of a child leave the child in the care and custody of another without provision for the child's support and without communication for a period of 6 months, ... the parent or parents are presumed to have intended to abandon the child.” NRS 128.012(2). To overcome this presumption, the parent must demonstrate that he or she did not abandon the child. See In re N.J., 116 Nev. at 803, 8 P.3d at 134.

“ ‘Abandonment of a child’ means any conduct of one or both parents of a child which evinces a settled purpose on the part of one or both parents to forego all parental custody and relinquish all claims to the child.” NRS 128.012(1). To determine whether the parent abandoned the child, the courts will look to the parents intent which can be shown from the facts and circumstances of the case. The issues of abandonment often arise in a guardianship case.


Additional Resources

Guardians and Guardianship in Nevada - Visit the Family Law Self-Help Center of the Legal Aid Society of Southern Nevada to learn more about filing for guardianship over an adult or child. Find information on filing for guardianship over an adult or a child, obtaining additional court orders, objecting to a guardianship and terminating a guardianship. The website also discusses important alternatives to a court-ordered guardianship. Learn about the different types of guardianship, who can be a guardian, who must be told about a guardianship, and powers and duties of a guardian. Also find sample forms for post-guardianship issues, adult guardianship forms, and child guardianship forms when the parents agree and when the parents will not agree.

Types of Guardianship in Clark County, NV - Visit the website of the Clark County government to learn more about different type of guardianship under Nevada law including the guardian of the person, guardian of the estate, guardian of the person and estate and temporary guardian. Learn more about notice of guardianship-related court proceedings and the duties of the Clark County Public Guardian's Office in Las Vegas, NV.

National Guardianship Association, Inc. - The National Guardianship Association, Inc (NGA) provides educational, training, and networking opportunities for guardians and about guardianship. NGA promotes the highest levels of values, standards, and ethics. It ensures a nationally recognized standard of excellence.


Finding an Attorney for Guardianship Cases in Las Vegas, NV

If you are involved in seeking guardianship of a child in Las Vegas, NV, then contact the experienced Las Vegas family law attorneys at Mills, Mills & Anderson.

Our attorneys are experienced in representing both men and women that want to become a guardian. During the initial consultation, we can help you with the case and suggest solutions to your legal problems.

Call today to find out more about what we can do to help. Call (702) 386-0030 today.

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