Five Generations of Family Law and Child Custody Experience
Child Custody Lawyers Serving the areas of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Overton, Moapa Valley, Mesquite, Laughlin and all of Clark County
The real focus in any child custody dispute should be determining what is in the child's best interest. The child custody attorneys at Mills, Mills & Anderson work hard to help our clients avoid a protracted custody battle. A good custody agreement means that conflicts can be avoided. When a conflict does arise, a good agreement can help the parties resolve the conflict more fairly and effectively.
In some cases, our clients have no choice but to fight for custody of the child when a fair agreement cannot be reached through pre-trial negotiations or at mediation. The attorneys at Mills, Mills & Anderson are experienced trial attorneys who are prepared to take the case to trial to protect the child's best interest.
We represent mothers and fathers with complicated child custody cases in the Eighth Judicial District Court, Family Court Division, in Las Vegas. The lawyers at Mills, Mills & Anderson represent clients living in and around Las Vegas, including Henderson, North Las Vegas, and throughout the surrounding areas of Clark County, NV.
If you need a family law attorney in Las Vegas to handle your child custody case, call our experienced family law lawyers at Mills, Mills & Anderson. We work hard to fight for the rights of our clients and to protect the best interest of the child when the court is making any custody determination. Find out what you need to do now to help your children through this difficult process so that their lives are disrupted as little as possible and their futures are protected. Call (702) 386-0030 to discuss your case.
Types of Child Custody Cases in Nevada
Under the Nevada Revised Statutes (“NRS”) child custody cases can arise in either divorce cases (NRS 125) or paternity cases (NRS 126). After the case is filed, the district court in Clark County, NV, has broad discretionary power in deciding child custody issues. See NRS 125A.045. Those issues can include the determination of any of the following:
- legal custody;
- physical custody; or
- visitation with the child.
A child's preference is one of many factors for the court to consider in determining the child's best interest. See NRS 125.480(4).
For either a divorce case or a paternity case, the standard used by the court is determining what is in the “best interest of the child.” The judge must decide the case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” The attorney will present proof during the trial of evidence that addresses the statutory factors set forth in NRS 125.480(4). The statutory factors are critical in the court’s decision of what is in the best interest of the child.
Factors for the Best Interest of the Children under NRS 125.480(4)
If the parties are unable to resolve the cases before trial or at mediation, then the Court must decide the issues after looking at the evidence and listening to the testimony of witnesses. The Court will also make substantial factual findings in case that become part of the Court’s written order. In fact, Nevada law requires express findings as to the best interest of the child in custody and visitation matters. See NRS 125.480(4), NRS 125.510(5) and NRS 125C.010(1).
In determining child custody, the Courts previously consider a list of factors set out in NRS 125.480(4). The list is non-exhaustive. The courts often find other factors were important depending on the facts of the case. NRS 125.480 was recently repealed by 2015 Nevada Laws Ch. 445 (A.B. 263). Now Nevada law provides that absent a determination by a court regarding the custody of a child, each parent has joint legal custody and joint physical custody of the child until otherwise ordered by a court.
A presumption arises that it is in the best interest of the child for the parents to have joint legal and physical custody if one of the parents has demonstrated, or has attempted to demonstrate but has had his or her efforts frustrated by the other parent, an intent to establish a meaningful relationship with a child.
Nevada Law on Joint Legal Custody
Under Nevada law, parents who share joint legal custody of a child each have a legal responsibility for their child and for making major decisions regarding the child. Those decisions can include the child's health, education, and religious upbringing.
Parents have an interest in the care, custody, and management of their children. Although that interest is fundamental, it is not absolute. In order to make these decisions under a theory of joint legal custody, both parents are informed regarding the child's circumstances and experiences. For this reason, parents in a joint legal custody situation must consult with each other to make major decisions regarding the child's upbringing.
Nevada Law on Joint Physical Custody
The court is authorized to award primary physical custody to one parent if the court determines that joint physical custody is not in the best interest of a child. In those cases, the court must set forth circumstances in which an award of joint physical custody is presumed not to be in the best interest of a child. The statute also sets forth the circumstances in which a court may award primary physical custody to a mother or father of a child born out of wedlock in a paternity action.
Under the fact interest of the children standard, the court must look at the factors set for in NRS 125.480(4) which include:
- Whether either parent or any other person seeking custody has committed any act of abduction against the child or any other child;
- Whether either parent or any other person seeking custody has engaged in an act of domestic violence against the child, a parent of the child or any other person residing with the child.
- Any history of parental abuse or neglect of the child or a sibling of the child.
- The ability of the child to maintain a relationship with any sibling.
- The nature of the relationship of the child with each parent.
- The physical, developmental and emotional needs of the child.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The ability of the parents to cooperate to meet the needs of the child.
- The level of conflict between the parents.
- Which parent is more likely to allow the child to have frequent associations and a continuing relationship with the noncustodial parent.
- Any nomination by a parent or a guardian for the child.
- The wishes of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to form an intelligent preference as to his or her custody.
Modifications of Child Custody and Visitation Orders in Nevada
After a child custody determination is made by the Court, it controls the child's and the parents' lives until the child ages out or the decree is later modified by the Court. The order can only be modified upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances that affects the child's welfare so that it is in the child's best interest to modify the existing visitation arrangement.
In fact, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) § 303, adopted in Nevada as NRS 125A.445(1), provides that a child custody determination carries effect across the United States. It provides that a Court “shall recognize and enforce a child custody determination of a court of another state if the latter court exercised jurisdiction in substantial conformity with the provisions of” the UCCJEA.
The parent seeking a modification of the prior order must show that “a substantial change in circumstances” as to the child's best interest warrants modification of an existing child custody determination. To do this, the parent will often focus on the factual determinations in the child custody order to show that those factors have changed over time.
Rivero's 40–percent guideline
In some cases, one parent will seek a modification from the district court to designate that parent was the primary physical custodian so as to modify child support in accordance with Rivero v. Rivero, 125 Nev. 410, 216 P.3d 213 (2009). The decision in Rivero established a workable formula to assist courts in determining when a joint physical custody arrangement exists. The case provides that if each parent had physical custody of the child at least 40 percent of the time, then the parents share joint physical custody.
Modifying Custody Agreements in Nevada
The courts and public policy encourage parents to enter into private custody agreements for co-parenting. The parents in family law matters are free to contract regarding child custody, and such agreements are generally enforceable. Those agreed upon terms are generally enforced until one or both of the parties move the court to modify the custody agreement.
If one or both of the parties request that the court to modify an existing child custody agreement, then the court must use the terms and definitions provided under Nevada law. When modifying a joint custody agreement, the court must consider under NRS 125.510(2) whether such modification is in the child's best interest.
The Nevada Legislature had not explicitly defined joint custody. Instead, the courts have set forth parameters for the purpose of clarifying which timeshare arrangements qualified as joint physical custody. When determining custody of the child, the courts must consider what is in the best interest of the child. As a general matter, it is in the best interest of the child to have frequent time and a continuing relationship with both parents. It is also in the child’s best interest to encourage the parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing.
Therefore, under Nevada law, there is a presumption that joint physical custody is in the best interest of the child if the parties agree. See NRS 125.490(1).
Child Custody’s Impact on Child Support in Nevada
The child support provisions of Nevada law are governed by the physical custody arrangement of the parents. Under Nevada law, then the parties share joint physical custody of a child, the higher-income parent is obligated to pay the lower-income parent the difference between the parents' statutorily calculated child support amounts.
Furthermore, when one parent has primary physical custody, the noncustodial parent must pay child support based on the statutory formulas. See NRS 125B.070 and NRS 125B.080. Read more about child support determinations in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Child Custody Violations as Parental Kidnapping - Learn more about how violation of a child custody order can rise to the level of a criminal offense under Nevada law. Under NRS 200.359(1), it is a crime to detain, conceal or remove a child from another person having lawful custody or from the jurisdiction of court. The statute provides that the crime can be charged as a category D felony punishable by 1 - 4 years in Nevada State prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Modification of Child Custody to Move or Relocate Out of the State of Nevada - When the custodial parents want to move or relocate out of the State of Nevada with the child, the parent must either obtain the other parent's permission or petition the court for permission to move. A move out of state often causes a financial hardship on the non-custodial parent because of the expense of transporting the child back and forth for frequent visitations. Learn more about the steps you should take before moving out of state with the child to make sure your rights are protected and to decrease the odds of a custody battle in court to prevent the move. We also represent a parent wishing to prevent the move when the relocation out of state is not in the child's best interest.
Finding a Child Custody Lawyer in Las Vegas, NV
If you need a child custody lawyer in Las Vegas, NV, then contact us at Mills, Mills & Anderson. We represent clients in child custody, child support, divorce, and paternity cases throughout Clark County, including Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas, NV.
Call our office to schedule a consultation to speak directly with a family law attorney about the unique facts and circumstances of your child custody case. Call (702) 386-0030 today.