If you and your family law attorney cannot hammer out a settlement agreement and decide to go to court, the district court judge will decide the issues. Here are three things to know:
1) The best interest of the child determines child custody
The only standard family court judges consider when deciding on child custody issues is what is in the best interest of the child.
All things being equal, Nevada courts will award both you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse:
- joint physical custody, where your child resides with each of you at least 40% of the time; and
- joint legal custody, where you both jointly make decisions concerning your child’s education, medical care, religion, etc.
Though if it is in the child’s best interests, courts can award you
- primary physical custody (where your child lives with you more than 60% of the time) and/or
- primary legal custody (where you have full decision-making authority)1
Note that if you and your ex cannot agree on a child custody arrangement, you must attempt mediation. If that fails, then the family court judge will make the decision in your custody case.
See our related article, The difference between legal and physical custody in Nevada.
2) Child support depends on the non-custodial parent’s gross monthly income
If you have primary physical custody, the court will order the other parent (the “non-custodial parent”) to pay a percentage of their gross monthly income (GMI) in child support. Estimate your child support using our Nevada child support calculator.
If both you and your ex have joint custody, then the parent earning more pays child support to the other. To estimate the amount of support,
- take the amount each parent would owe if they did not have joint physical custody (use the child support calculator), and then
- subtract the smaller number from the higher number.
However, the court can greatly increase or decrease the amount of child support based on your financial condition, child care costs, standard of living, etc.2
Having a good divorce lawyer fight for you can potentially greatly increase the support obligation owed to you.
3) Violating child custody- or child support orders is a crime
Once the court issues an order, you must abide by it. Otherwise, the penalties in Nevada can be serious.
Violating a child custody order becomes a category D felony if you:
- willfully detain, conceal or remove your child from your ex’s lawful custody;
- willfully deprive your ex of a right of visitation; or
- remove your child from the court’s jurisdiction without the consent of the court or your ex.
The punishments include one-to-four years in prison and/or up to $5,000.3
Meanwhile, the penalties for failing to pay child support depend on the amount in arrears.
Failure to pay child support
You owe $10,000 or more
Category C felony:
You owe less than $10,000
You owe $5,000 or more
Category C felony:
You owe less than $5,000
- Alimony/spousal support in divorce cases
- Community property (division of property and what counts as separate property)
- Joint petitions (uncontested divorces)
- Nevada divorce laws (residency requirements, filing fees, and grounds for divorce such as incompatibility)