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Nevada’s Fictitious Address Program for Domestic Violence Victims

Protecting Victims in North Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Henderson, Overton, Moapa Valley, Mesquite, Laughlin and Clark County

A person can apply to the Nevada Secretary of State for a fictitious address as part of Nevada's fictitious address program for domestic violence victims. See NRS 217.462–.471. Based on the application and submission of the temporary restraining order, the Secretary of State can issue the person a fictitious address. Nevada was the second state in the nation to provide this service to the alleged victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The program was modeled after the State of Washington's Address Confidentiality Program that was established in 1991.

The attorneys at Mills, Mills & Anderson help clients submit the paperwork to gain acceptance into the program when appropriate. The attorney's also helped interested parties in seeking disclosure of an address when required because the parents share custody of a minor child.

The family law attorneys at Mills, Mills & Anderson represent clients in a variety of cases where an issue of domestic violence arises including in a temporary protective order hearing for a temporary or extended order of protection against domestic violence. Call the attorneys at Mills, Mills & Anderson to discuss your rights to either receive a fictitious address or to demand disclosure of a true address for a person admitted into the program. Call (702) 386-0030 today to discuss your case.


The Process of Obtaining a Fictitious Address

The process of obtaining a fictitious address was recently explained by the court in Falconi v. Sec'y of State, 129 Nev. Adv. Op. 28, 299 P.3d 378, 387 (2013). In that case, the Court explained:

“Nevada's fictitious address program was enacted in 1997 to help domestic violence victims establish and maintain confidential home addresses. See S.B. 155, 69th Leg. (Nev. 1997) (Bill Summary). To accomplish this goal, the fictitious address program provides that “[a]n adult person, a parent or guardian acting on behalf of a child, or a guardian acting on behalf of an incompetent person may apply to the Secretary of State to have a fictitious address designated by the Secretary of State serve as the address of the adult.” NRS 217.462(1).

In order to receive a fictitious address, an individual must submit to the Secretary of State an application containing “[s]pecific evidence showing that the adult, child or incompetent person has been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking before the filing of the application.” NRS 217.462(2)(a). The relevant statute allows, as examples of specific evidence, “an applicable record of conviction, a temporary restraining order or other protective order.” NRS 217.462(4). Once an applicant submits an application accompanied by the required evidence, the Secretary of State must approve the application, NRS 217.462(4), making the applicant a participant in the program, and must issue the participant a fictitious address. NRS 217.464(1)(a).

Following the issuance of the fictitious address, the Secretary of State forwards any mail received for the participant to the participant at his or her actual address. NRS 217.464(1)(b). The Secretary of State is further prohibited from making records containing the participant's name, confidential address, or fictitious address available for inspection and copying unless the “address is requested by a law enforcement agency ... or [t]he Secretary of State is directed to do so by lawful order of a court of competent jurisdiction, in which case the Secretary of State shall make the address available to the person identified in the order.” NRS 217.464(2).

The Secretary of State may cancel a participant's fictitious address at any time if the participant changes his or her confidential address without properly notifying the Secretary, the Secretary determines that the participant knowingly provided false or incorrect information in the application, or the participant becomes a candidate for public office. NRS 217.468(3). But after four years, a participant's fictitious address will be canceled by the Secretary of State as a matter of course. NRS 217.468(1). To prevent cancellation based on the expiration of time, a participant must demonstrate “to the satisfaction of the Secretary of State that the participant remains in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.” NRS 217.468(2). The process for making such a demonstration and seeking to extend the use of the fictitious address is not set forth in the program statutes.

…The fictitious address program does not authorize the Secretary of State to investigate or determine whether a protective order was issued based on a finding of domestic violence or on a finding of a potential threat of violence before approving an application. See NRS 217.462(4); Leven v. Frey, 123 Nev. 399, 403, 168 P.3d 712, 715 (2007) (explaining that “when a statute's language is plain and its meaning clear, the courts will apply that plain language”).

The statutes' legislative history reveals that the Legislature specifically declined to authorize the Secretary of State to inquire into the circumstances underlying the evidence presented in support of an application. In fact, early versions of the bill required the Secretary to make a determination as to whether an applicant had actually been a victim of domestic violence, but the bill was ultimately modified to remove any potential decision-making function from the Secretary's role in issuing a fictitious address. Compare S.B. 155(2)(4), 69th Leg. (Nev. 1997) (second reprint), with S.B. 155(2)(4), 69th Leg. (Nev. 1997) (third reprint); see also Hearing on S.B. 155 Before the Assembly Comm. on Ways and Means, 69th Leg. (Nev., June 26, 1997) (expressing concern that the earlier version of the proposed statute required the Secretary of State to exercise judgment and make legal determinations).

The Nevada Legislature recognized that such conflicting interests may arise in certain cases, as one of the fictitious address statutes specifically permits a court to order the Secretary of State to disclose a participant's address to a specific party. See NRS 217.464(2)(b) (providing that the Secretary of State shall release a participant's address if “directed to do so by lawful order of a court of competent jurisdiction”); cf. Sagar v. Sagar, 57 Mass.App.Ct. 71, 781 N.E.2d 54, 59 (2003) (explaining that when divorcing parents seek to limit each other's custody rights, the state must act as mediator). This statute does not delineate the procedure by which a court could do so, however, and thus, we take the opportunity to address this issue here. Specifically, we must determine what procedure a court should apply in resolving a request to disclose a program participant's confidential home address. As neither our statutory nor our case authority sheds light on this question, we look to extra-jurisdictional authority to guide our determination as to how Nevada courts should approach a custodial parent's request for release of a program participant co-parent's confidential home address.

In that case, the court adopts a framework for Nevada courts considering a request for disclosure of a confidential address and adapt it to be consistent with Nevada law. That framework requires “that any decision to compel disclosure of a program participant's true address to take into account both the interest of a domestic violence victim in remaining hidden from the person who harmed him or her and the interest of a custodial parent in making decisions regarding his or her child.”


Burden to Establish Disclosure of a Fictitious Address

The burden to establish disclosure of a fictitious address is also set out in Falconi v. Sec'y of State, 129 Nev. Adv. Op. 28, 299 P.3d 378, 387 (2013). In that case, the Court explained the process in the following way:

When filing a petition for a writ of mandamus to compel disclosure, it is the petitioner's burden to establish that writ relief is warranted. See Pan v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 120 Nev. 222, 228, 88 P.3d 840, 844 (2004). A custodial parent generally has a right to know where his or her child resides, even when the child is in the other parent's physical custody. See Rivero, 125 Nev. at 420–21, 216 P.3d at 221; Kirkpatrick, 119 Nev. at 71, 64 P.3d at 1059; see also Sacharow, 826 A.2d at 722. So, by demonstrating that he or she shares joint legal custody, a parent may meet the initial burden of proving that he or she has a right to know the co-parent program participant's home address when the child is living during his or her custodial period with that parent. See Rivero, 125 Nev. at 420–21, 216 P.3d at 221; see also Sacharow, 826 A.2d at 722.

If the party seeking disclosure meets this initial burden, the analysis discussed in Sacharow will then come into play. In particular, the party seeking to maintain the confidential address, as the real party in interest, will have the burden of proving that the party seeking disclosure was the perpetrator of an act of domestic violence against him or her or against the parties' child and that he or she fears further domestic violence. See Sacharow, 826 A.2d at 722; cf. NRS 125.480(5) (providing that if a court determines “by clear and convincing evidence that either parent or any other person seeking custody has engaged in one or more acts of domestic violence against the child, a parent of the child or any other person residing with the child,” a rebuttable presumption arises against that parent having sole or joint custody of the child). If the real party in interest establishes so, the burden shifts back to petitioner, who must then demonstrate that confidentiality is nonetheless not in the child's best interest under this state's best interest factors. See NRS 125.480(4) (setting forth the factors for a court to consider in determining a child's best interest, including the amount of conflict between the parents, the parents' ability to cooperate to meet the child's needs, the parents' mental and physical health, and any previous parental abuse or neglect of the child); see also Sacharow, 826 A.2d at 722. If the court ultimately determines that, under this analysis, disclosure is in the child's best interest, the court should order release of the confidential address. If not, the address may remain confidential.

Under this approach, the court addressing such a petition will necessarily be required to make factual determinations. For this reason, we conclude that the district court, rather than this court, is the appropriate tribunal for seeking this relief. See Round Hill Gen. Improvement Dist. v. Newman, 97 Nev. 601, 604, 637 P.2d 534, 536 (1981) (explaining that “an appellate court is not an appropriate forum in which to resolve disputed questions of fact,” and that “[w]hen disputed factual issues are critical in demonstrating the propriety of a writ of mandamus, the writ should be sought in the district court, with appeal from an adverse judgment to this court”). And in light of the close relationship between child custody issues and the issues implicated in this situation, we conclude that, to the extent possible, such a petition should be filed in the same district court in which any child custody order has been entered. 


Other States with a Fictitious Address Program 

A majority of states have enacted confidential address statutes including:


Additional Resources

Nevada’s Confidential Address Program - Visit the website of the Nevada Secretary of State to learn more about the Confidential Address Program for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault who are afraid of being found by their abuser. The program provides a fictitious mailing address to those who are allowed to participate. When the participant enters into a business relationship with state and local agencies, the use of the fictitious address both maintains the victims' confidentiality and relieves those agencies of the difficult and costly responsibilities of maintaining confidential records. The program also reduces the chance that the victim will be tracked through public records. The participate is able to maintain confidential voter registration records. Participants in the Confidential Address Program are exempt from Jury Duty.  

Nevada Confidential Address Program
PO BOX 2743
Carson City, NV 89702
   
Toll Free: 888-432-6189
Local: 775-684-5707 
FAX: 775-684-1145
EMAIL: [email protected]
 

 

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