While some separating or divorcing couples quickly reach an agreement regarding the living arrangements for their children, the contentious nature of many of these situations makes it necessary for the family court to make the final determination. Under Nevada law the family court judge has the full authority to make a binding custody decision and…
While some separating or divorcing couples quickly reach an agreement regarding the living arrangements for their children, the contentious nature of many of these situations makes it necessary for the family court to make the final determination.
Under Nevada law the family court judge has the full authority to make a binding custody decision and visitation schedule that may only be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances. Overturning a ruling is difficult. Consequently, making sure you hire a seasoned custody attorney to argue for the proper ruling in the beginning is extremely important.
In Nevada, there are two child custody categories that will be addressed during the custody process:
- Legal Custody — Role and responsibility each parent has in making decisions regarding the general health and well-being of the offspring.
- Physical Custody — Establishes the actual living arrangements of the children, including the amount of time they will reside with each parent. Click this link to learn more about the differences between legal custody and physical custody.
Difference Between Joint & Primary?
The issue or “Joint” and “Primary” physical custody is the biggest issue raised by our clients with children. First, most clients think “Primary” means “Sole” custody with limited visitation by the other parent. This is not the case. Primary custody simply means the child spends at least 61% of the time with one parent and the rest with the other parent. This is relevant because “Primary” custody does not mean the other parent will not ever see the child.
The other issue is mothers typically ask for “primary” physical custody because they feel they raised the children during the marriage and should therefore have custody. Nevada law does not have a preference for mothers or fathers and joint physical custody is the standard court ruling. If a parents wishes to ask for primary physical custody, then they have they must prove to court using the Best Interest Factors that primary physical custody is in the best interest of the child. Raising the child is not one of those factors. Even though parents choose to fight for primary custody the burden of proving the court required factors is typically not met.
The Child Custody Process
Our child custody attorneys will guide you through each step of the custody process. A typical court process for determining custody consists of:
- Paternity Ruling – If the custody is not part of the divorce the father may need to take a DNA test. If the parents are married, the child is considered by default to belong to the father. There are situations where a paternity test is not needed and we have seen where a father, in a divorce case, is able to the child is not his.
- Temporary Hearing — This establishes short-term custody arrangements and a visitation schedule until the final divorce decree is issued. Custody cases can take six to eight months so a temporary schedule is necessary.
- Child Evaluations — The court may ask a mental health professional, social worker, or therapist to evaluate the parents and children over a period of several weeks. The court uses these evaluation in determining a final ruling.
- Trial — During the trial, both spouses present their case before the court. The judge will then make the final decision regarding permanent custody and visitation rights based on what he or she views to be in “the best interests of the child.” More information on the Best Interest Factors can be found in our customer forms section.
Should You Hire A Child Custody Attorney?
While you are under no legal obligation to hire a family law lawyer, and there are Self-Help resource available, there are a number of situations in which hiring an lawyer is likely to be in your best interests. These include:
- You and your partner are not communicating and/or cannot agree on a suitable custody or visitation arrangement.
- One parent wishes to relocate outside of Nevada with the children.
- The paternity of the child is in question.
- You need to modify an existing custody order.
Benefits of Hiring a Child Custody Lawyer
Child custody can be a difficult legal and emotional struggle that has a significant long-term impact on the lives of your children. An experienced child custody lawyer can help you navigate these often murky legal waters and remove much of the emotional burden from your shoulders. A child custody attorney can ensure your rights are protected and the welfare of your children remains at the forefront of the custody process.