"Best Interests of the Child" in Nevada Law

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When a marriage is dissolved and custody comes into issue, Nevada law states that a custody determination will be made based solely on the best interest of the child.

Custody comes in two forms; legal custody, which refers to a parent's responsibility for making major decisions concerning a child's health, education, or general welfare; and physical custody, which refers to the child's physical residence with a parent.

Nevada law favors joint custody if the parents have agreed to it, unless there is evidence of domestic violence or some other indication that joint custody will be less than beneficial to the development of the child.  It is possible that a judge would grant physical custody to one parent and legal custody to another, but such a determination is rare.  Further, a judge granting joint legal custody may also grant joint physical custody or may instead decide that it is better for the child to have one primary residence and spend specified periods of time at the home of the other parent.

If the issue of custody is a major roadblock in a divorce proceeding, certain counties in Nevada require courts to provide mediation and parents are required to attend unless one parent has a history of child abuse or domestic violence.  If the mediation is unsuccessful, a judge will weigh the best interest of the child standard to determine which parent or guardian the child should reside with.

What is "best interest of the child" in Nevada family law?

In terms of what the “best interest of the child” really means, there is no standard definition.  The phrase generally refers to the numerous factors related to a child's circumstances and the parent or caregiver's circumstances and capacity to be a quality parent with the child's safety and well-being at the forefront of the decision.

Some of the factors that go into a court's best interest analysis include, but are not limited to: ·

  • The child's ability to maintain contact with siblings
  • The mental and physical health of both parents
  • The child's physical and emotional needs
  • Any history of abuse
  • The child's wishes, if the child is of a sufficient age and intelligence to decide
  • The child's relationship with each parent
  • The level of conflict between the parents
  • Whether either parent has committed an act of abduction against the child or any other child
  • Each parent's willingness to encourage a relationship between the child and the co-parent

It is important to note that if a parent or guardian loses a custody battle in Nevada, the court's determination is not final.  Because the best interest of the child is always the court's main concern,   Nevada law states that custody and visitation determinations can be modified at any time if the child's living situation has changed for the worse.  The first step in seeking to modify a court-ordered custody determination would be to file a motion for modification which would then lead to a hearing where a court can conduct an evidentiary to make proper findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Note that a familial placement preference survives the termination of parental rights, but the placement preference is then governed by NRS 128.110(2) rather than NRS 432B.550(5). (IN RE: Matter of E.R. C/W 73198134, Nev. Advance Opinion 291 (2018))

Call a Nevada family law attorney...

If you feel you need assistance in your custody dispute, seek the help of qualified and experienced legal counsel.  Las Vegas Defense Group has years of experience in the area of workers' compensation and can be reached at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation.


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