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Nevada Child Custody
Child Custody in Nevada

According to Nevada Revised Statutes 125.480. "the sole consideration of the court is the best interest of the child. If it appears to the court that joint custody would be in the best interest of the child, the court may grant custody to the parties jointly."

Nevada child custody laws protect the child's welfare and center on his or her best interests. Nevada strongly urges divorcing parents to cooperatively work out the details of raising their child after divorce because their resolution means continuing care for the child while living separately.

In the event that the parents fail to agree on their parenting plan, the court intervenes, and either joint custody or sole custody is awarded to parent(s). If parents remain married but live apart, a Nevada court can be called upon to make custody determinations.

Nevada's courts try to reduce the emotional impact of divorce on children. Child custody laws prohibit the court from making presumptions on custody arrangements or favoring one parent over the other based solely on gender or financial status. The court evaluates family dynamics. It considers which parent historically provided primary care for the child and which parent maintains a residence most suitable as a home for the child. Other considerations include the general physical and mental health of the parents and the child.

Nevada child custody laws require parents to provide the child with education, support, health care and all necessary maintenance. The court bases its custody decisions on many factors affecting best interest, and it may consider the wishes of the children and parents, the level of conflict between the parents, the ability of the parents to cooperate and the nature of the relationship between the children.

In deciding custody, the court considers:

  • the child's wishes or preferences as to custody, provided that he or she is mature enough to make such claims;
  • the child's physical, developmental, and emotional needs;
  • the child's relationship with his or her parent, siblings, and other significant members of the family;
  • the nature of the parent's relationship with the child;
  • the parents' wishes or preferences as to custody;
  • the parent's willingness to encourage or allow the child to have a continuing interaction with the non-custodial parent;
  • the parents' ability to cooperate to provide for the child's needs;
  • the nature of the relationship between the parents as well as the circumstances surrounding the divorce;
  • any history of domestic violence, child abuse, or negligence; and
  • the mental and physical health of the parties involved in the proceedings.

Nevada recognizes the difference between legal and physical custody of a child. Legal custody defines the right of the parents to make decisions affecting how the child is raised, educated, brought up in a religious setting and other similar decisions; physical custody designates where and with whom the child resides.

Nevada law permits different variations in regard to physical custody. These include one parent maintaining sole physical custody of the child as well as joint physical custody in which the child has a primary residence with one parent but also spends time in the home of the other parent. Finally, a shared physical custody arrangement; in this, the child spends nearly equal time in the homes of both parents.

By comparison, legal custody is the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child. Nevada law recognizes two basic types of legal custody when parents remain married. Sole legal custody designates only one parent to have authority to make decisions for the child; joint legal custody permits both parents to share equally in making major decisions for the child.

Custodial parents who want to leave Nevada must obtain permission from the non-custodial parent or petition the court to move.

Mandatory Parenting Class

Nevada courts often require all divorcing parents with minor children to complete a mandatory parenting class before granting a divorce. This requirement is designed to help parents and children deal with the trauma of divorce and separation. Unless the court grants a waiver, both parents must typically complete this requirement. Rather than give up an afternoon or evening taking your course in a crowded classroom, you can fulfill this requirement conveniently online at a very reasonable cost. We recommend you take Children in Between Online" to fulfill your court requirement and for the benefit of your children.

Joint Custody Preference

In Nevada, there is a presumption that joint custody is in the best interests of the child.

Nevada presumes that awarding joint custody to parents is in the best interests of the child if the parents agree to it. This presumption affects how the court takes into consideration evidence in any hearing. Unless a party can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that joint custody is not appropriate, the court awards joint custody. This presumption is applied to legal custody, but not necessarily physical custody.

The courts generally award both parents joint custody to foster a relationship with both parents. Under certain circumstances, when the court cannot award joint custody to both parents, the court has an order of preferences on deciding child custody. When the court denies an application for joint custody, it states its reason why.

Married couples with children born of the marriage are considered to have joint custody of the children. In order to have joint custody, the court must not have made a previous determination to award custody to either parent.

Third Party Custody

In some cases, a third party, or someone other than a child's biological parents, tries to gain custody of a child. Nevada uses a hierarchy in connection with child custody; the first preference, to both parents jointly, or to either parent if joint custody is not appropriate; the second preference, to a person in whose home the child has been living if it is a wholesome and stable environment; the third preference, to any person related to the child within the third degree of consanguinity whom the court finds suitable; and a fourth preference, to anyone the court finds suitable. All preferences are to be made in light of the best interests of the child.

Parental Conduct

In addition to finding a parent unfit because of substance abuse or abuse or neglect towards a child, the courts also consider the conduct of both parents during the course of the marriage, and the impact of parental behavior on the child.

In Nevada, the court presumes that it is not in the best interests of the child to grant custody to a parent accused of domestic violence, but the court considers prior acts of domestic violence, the likelihood of future acts of violence, and the severity of the injuries inflicted during the domestic violence.


The Nevada courts have full discretion when determining visitation between children and parents. The courts can establish visitation between one or more parent, even if both parents agreed upon a no-visitation policy. The court can order or the parties can agree to the terms of visitation with the non-custodial parent.

In Nevada, parenting time, which is better known as visitation, emphasizes that the non-custodial parent is not to become a mere visitor in the life of her child. Determined on a case-by-case basis, a parenting time schedule ensures the non-custodial parent sufficient time with the minor on a regular basis to develop a meaningful relation between the parent and the child.

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