What is Child Custody?
Even before discussing how Nevada courts decide child custody issues, there are other questions that parents facing a custody determination need to understand. First, there are two kinds of custody – physical and legal. Legal custody gives the custodial parent the power to make legal decisions on behalf of the child and have access to their legal records. Legal custody can be joint, in which case the two parents both have these powers and generally must agree before decisions are made, or it can be sole custody. Sole custody means only the custodial parent can make decisions regarding the child. This is more unusual and the court must be convinced that sole custody is in the best interests of the child.
The second kind of custody is physical – whom does the child live with, and how much of the time do they live there? Here, there are three categories of physical custody. They are:
- Joint custody, in which the parents divide their time with the child, such as 50-50, where the child spends half of the time with one parent and half with the other. The split need not be 50-50 – it can be 60-40 or some other split wherein the child spends no more than 60 percent of the time with one parent.
- Primary custody, where the child spends at least 61 percent of the time with one parent, and the other parent has to adhere to a visitation schedule.
- Sole custody, where the child lives with one parent full time and visitation by the non-custodial parent is at the discretion of the custodial parent. Sole custody does not terminate parental rights, but simply limits visitation. In these cases the custodial parent must show why the non-custodial parent should have limited or no contact with the children. Visitation in such situations can be supervised by a third party, as well.
How is Child Custody Determined in Nevada?
Like many other states, in the event of a divorce Nevada determines which parent gets custody based on the “best interests of the child.” While a number of elements factor into that determination, the ultimate decision comes down to what the court believes to be best for the children involved. In making that determination, the court considers:
- The wishes of the child, so long as the child is “of sufficient age and capacity to form an intelligent preference as to his or her custody.” That age is not set, but if the child appears to be mature enough to make a rational decision and offers a logical reason in support of a preference, the court will consider that in its custody decision
- Any nomination by a parent or guardian
- Which parent is more likely to allow the child to have frequent contact and a relationship with the other parent
- The level of conflict between the parents
- The ability of the parents to cooperate to meet the needs of the child
- The mental and physical health of the parents
- The physical, developmental and emotional needs of the child
- The nature of the relationship of the child to each parent
- The ability of the child to maintain a relationship with any sibling, or
- Any history of parental abuse or neglect of the child or a sibling of the child.
Nevada has a presumption in favor of joint custody, but that presumption can be overcome under certain circumstances, mostly involving abuse or even child kidnapping.
Contact Acherman Law to Speak with an Attorney
If you are involved in a child custody issue in Nevada, you have rights that are protected by law. To find you what your options are, you should seek legal advice. To help you deal with such a situation in Nevada, contact Acherman Law. You can call me at (702) 381-5615 or use my online contact form.