Las Vegas Child Custody Attorney
Realities Of Child Custody
Child Custody cases are very emotional. Sometimes a couple has recently broken up and must decide what arrangement will be used going forward, but sometimes child custody cases involve parents who have never been together or have been separated for long periods, but cannot agree on custodial arrangements. It is usually better if the parents are able to communicate and come to an agreement that is appropriate under their specific circumstances, but there are many reasons why parents are unable to agree. In cases where the parties cannot agree, litigation is necessary so that all of the relevant information can be presented to the Court for the judge to make a determination on what is in the child’s best interests. In Nevada, there are two types of “custody” that must be determined, legal custody and physical custody.
Who Has Rights?
Legal custody deals with the parents’ legal rights to make decisions on behalf of the child and receive information regarding the child. Physical custody involves who the child lives with. There are only two types of legal custody, joint and sole. It is normally going to be in the child’s best interests for the parents to have Joint Legal Custody. Joint Legal Custody requires the parents to discuss any important issues with the other parent prior to making a decision regarding education, religion, and health care matters. Joint Legal Custody also gives both parents equal access to information regarding the child’s education and medical information. In some cases, it can be found that the situation is severe enough to warrant one parent making all of the decisions without input from the other parent, that is Sole Legal Custody. In Sole Legal Custody cases, the Court could still require the legal custodian parent to provide information to the other parent, even if the parent is not included in the decisions.
Types Of Physical Custody
With regards to physical custody, there are three types in Nevada, Joint Physical Custody, Primary Physical Custody, or Sole Physical Custody.
Joint Physical Custody
In Nevada, it is presumed that it is in a child’s best interests to have equal time with both parents. This is known as Joint Physical Custody. In Joint Physical Custody situations, each parent must have at least 40% of the time with the children. This is a “rebuttable presumption”, which means that you can offer proof to show that it would not be in the child’s best interests.
Primary Physical Custody
Primary Physical Custody is when one parent has the child for more than 61% of the time, but the other parent still has specific visitation/timeshare rights. Even in cases where one parent has the child, but there are regularly scheduled supervised visits, it would still be considered Primary Physical Custody, because the noncustodial parent has visitation rights.
Sole Physical Custody
Sole Physical Custody cases are rare. Sole Physical Custody is usually only granted if a parent has abandoned the child or there are instances of abuse or neglect that would make it unsafe or otherwise against the child’s bests interests to have a relationship with the noncustodial parent
When evaluating the child’s best interests, the Court evaluates the statutory factors under NRS 125C.035(4). The factors include:
- The wishes of the child;
- Any nomination of a guardian by a parent;
- Which parent is more likely to allow the child to have a relationship with the other 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 siblings;
- Any history of parental abuse or neglect;
- Whether either parent has engaged in domestic violence; and
- Whether either parent has committed any acts of abduction.
No single factor is controlling, each factor is provided to the court to weigh and include in the Court’s determination on the best interests of the child.
Another issue that arises is child custody cases is requests for relocation. If the parents agree to a relocation, then there is no issue, however, in most cases, the parents do not agree. If the parents have Joint Physical Custody, the parent who wishes to relocate must ask the court to change custody so that they have primary physical custody and ask the court to approve the relocation. Even if the parent already has primary physical custody, he/she must still petition the court for permission to relocate. Relocation cases can be very difficult, especially if the parents had Joint Physical Custody. There are specific factors that must be presented to the court to show that the child would receive an actual benefit from the relocation.