Do Nevada courts favor mothers in child custody battles?

No. A parent's gender has nothing to do with judges' decision regarding child custody in Nevada.

In the past when mothers were primarily homemakers and fathers worked, it made sense for judges to give mothers custody since they had the ability to care for children full-time. But now that gender roles have expanded, mothers no longer have an automatic advantage over fathers in child custody battles.

Nevada law explicitly states, "Preference must not be given to either parent for the sole reason that the parent is the mother or the father of the child." (NRS 125C.0035)

mother and baby
Gender of the parents plays no role in child custody matters.

Best interest of the child in Nevada

A court's primary consideration when deciding where a child will reside is what is in the child's best interest in Nevada (NRS 125C.0035). Every case is unique, and what is best for one child may not work for another. But in general, courts take into account the following factors:

  • The minor's wishes if he/she is of sufficient age and capacity to form an intelligent preference as to his or her physical custody.
  • Which parent is more likely to allow the minor 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 minor.
  • The mental and physical health of the parents.
  • The physical, developmental, and emotional needs of the minor.
  • The nature of the relationship of the minor with each parent.
  • The ability of the minor to maintain a relationship with any sibling.
  • Any history of parental abuse or neglect of the minor or a sibling of the minor.
  • Whether either parent has engaged in an act of domestic violence against the child, a parent of the child, or any other person residing with the child.
  • Whether either parent has committed any act of abduction against the child or any other child.

Order of child custody preference in Nevada

All things being equal, courts prefer to award both parents joint physical custody. Joint physical custody is when both parents spend at least 40% of their time with the child.

However, a court will award one of the parents primary physical custody if it is in the best interest of the child. Primary physical custody is when the parent spends more than 60% of his/her time with the child.

When the child is born out of wedlock

Joint custody is also the court's preference for children who are born out of wedlock. But courts will award primary custody to the mother if the following three things is true:

  1. The mother has not married the child's father; and
  2. The court has not entered any order or judgment determining paternity; and
  3. The child's father either:
    1. is not subject to a presumption of paternity; or
    2. has never acknowledged paternity; or
    3. has actual knowledge of his paternity but abandoned the child

Two circumstances where a father is generally assumed to be the biological father of a child are:

  1. While the child is under 18 years old, he receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child; or
  2. He and the child's natural mother were living together for at least six (6) months prior to conception and continued to cohabitate through the period of conception

Learn more in our article Determining custody of children with unmarried parents in Nevada.

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