How is "child custody" determined in Nevada?

A child custody dispute can be one of the most difficult and emotional times in a parent's life. It is imperative that you hire an experienced Las Vegas family law attorney to help you navigate the frequently contentious Nevada child custody process.

The experienced team of Las Vegas family law attorneys at 702-DEFENSE can guide you through the complicated Nevada court system and help protect your parental rights.

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Types of custody in Nevada – physical custody or legal custody?

There are two forms of child custody in Nevada: physical custody and legal custody. As the name suggests, physical child custody refers to the physical living arrangement between parent and child.

In contrast, legal child custody does not refer to the physical custody of a child. Rather legal custody refers to the right of a parent to make important decisions about a child's upbringing. This can include decisions about what school a child attends, what religion the child practices, and what medical treatments a child receives.

A parent may have either primary physical custody or joint physical custody of a child. If a child physically resides with a parent more than 60% of the time, then that parent is said to have primary physical custody. In cases of joint physical custody of a child, the child spends at least 40% of his/her time with each parent.

How Is child custody determined In Nevada?

Parents engaged in a custody dispute in Clark County are required to attend mediation in order to establish a custody arrangement. If the parents cannot come to a satisfactory child custody arrangement, a Nevada judge may then be required to make the custody determination.

The judge does not have an inherent preference for either the mother or father in a Nevada child custody dispute. Rather, the best interests of the child will ultimately govern the child custody determination.

The factors a judge considers when determining the best interests of a child may include:

  • Any history of child neglect or abuse by a parent

  • Any incidents of domestic abuse on the part of a parent

  • The wishes of the child

  • The ability of the child to maintain relationships with siblings

  • 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 and emotional needs of the child

  • The child's relationship with each parent

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Will I have sole custody or joint custody?

Nevada courts take into account the best interests of the child to award the parents joint legal custody of the child, joint physical custody of the child, or both.

Even if a parent is awarded primary or sole physical custody of a child, a judge may still order joint legal custody of the child. So even if the child lives primarily with one parent, the other non-custodial parent may still be able to make important decisions about the child's upbringing.

When the parents have agreed to a joint custody arrangement, the court will presume that such an arrangement would be in the best interest of the child.

Contrary to popular belief, the judge may not inherently favor the mother over the father when making a custody determination. From a practical standpoint however, judges may find that awarding the mother sole or primary physical custody of the child is in the child's best interest.

Once a judge has entered a child custody determination, it is binding on the parties and enforceable by law.

If I am not awarded custody, will I still have visitation rights in Nevada?

A judge may grant visitation rights to a non-custodial parent by court order. An order awarding visitation rights to a non-custodial parent must define the specific time and terms of visitations with sufficient particularity.

If a non-custodial parent has been wrongfully deprived of their visitation rights, a court may order additional visits to make up for the wrongfully deprived visits.

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Why should I hire an attorney for my child custody dispute in Nevada?

The determination of a child custody arrangement has a significant and lasting impact on the lives of both parents and children. It is important to hire an experienced Nevada family law attorney to guide you through the frustrating child custody determination process.

The family law attorneys at 702-DEFENSE will help defend your rights as a parent and make the argument that awarding you custody is in the best interest of your child. Call us today at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).

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