Like many states, Nevada’s Child Custody Laws determine the legal and physical custody of minor children by utilizing a standard of what’s “in the best interest of the child.” While joint legal custody is encouraged, sole custody may be given to either parent.
But what is legal and physical custody?
Legal custody refers to any decision that relates to the welfare of the child, how the child will be raised, such as the child’s education, health, choice of religion, etc. Under Nevada law, parents who are married have joint legal custody of their child. If the parents are unmarried, joint legal custody is not automatic, but is generally granted by the courts.
Physical custody alludes to where the child physically lives.
In determining what is in the best interest of the child, NRS 125.480 is the controlling law. Factors the court considers in are …
• 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.
• Any nomination by a parent or a guardian for the child.
• Which parent is more likely to allow the child to have frequent associations and a continuing relationship with the noncustodial 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 with each parent.
• The ability of the child to maintain a relationship with any sibling.
• Any history of parental abuse or neglect of the child or a sibling of the 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, and
• Whether either parent or any other person seeking custody has committed any act of abduction against the child or any other child.
To begin a child custody process in Nevada, parents generally enter a mediation process. Under NRS 3.475, all parents living in Clark County are required to resolve custody disputes through confidential mediation. During mediation, a court appointed mediator will try to guide the parents to work out a suitable and amicable resolution of their child custody issues. Parents should remember the mediator is neutral and will not give either party legal advice. Though counsel is not permitted in mediation sessions, it is good advice to obtain legal advice before entering the mediation process.
Any issues agreed upon during the mediation process are codified into a child custody agreement which is then submitted to the court for final approval. Before the agreement is submitted, however, each party’s attorney should review the document. Any issues not agreed upon during mediation are referred to the court for hearing.
The commentary is for educational and commentary purposes only. If you or someone you know is involved with a child custody arrangement in Las Vegas, and would like to protect your rights, contact our office for a free confidential case review and receive a response within hours. Call Toll Free 866-414-0400.