How Is Custody Determined in Nevada

Child custody agreements in Nevada address legal custody, physical custody, and visitation schedules. Typically, joint custody is favored when possible, unless it is not determined to be in the best interests of the child. When separated parents are on amicable terms, parenting agreements are generally constructed by the parents with assistance from a mediator when necessary. If there is a dispute that cannot be resolved outside of court, a Nevada judge will make a custody decision in the best interest of the child.

Types of Custody In Nevada

Legal custody is the provision allowing a parent or legal guardian to make decisions regarding upbringing. These decisions include religious influences, education, and non-emergency medical decisions. Physical custody determines where the child will live. Nevada Law shows a preference for joint custody regarding both legal and physical custody agreements. Joint legal custody features both parents working together to make key decisions in the child’s upbringing. Joint physical custody generally requires that the child resides with each parent at least 40% of the year. 

In some cases, the court may determine that it isn’t in the best interest of the child to include both parents in decision making. Sole custody, though unusual, grants unilateral decision making and sole physical custody to a single parent. This custody arrangement is only chosen when one parent is deemed unfit after failing to provide the child with proper guidance, care, and support. This is often due to a lack of interest in the child’s well-being or addiction.

Factors Influencing a Court’s Child Custody Decision

Above all factors, the best interests of the child are regarded when crafting a child custody order. A judge considers statutory factors, such as a parent’s history with domestic violence, abuse, or neglect, living conditions, and the age of the child. Additional factors considered include:

  • The wishes of the child- considered when a child is of reasonable age and considered capable of sound judgment
  • Parental cooperation- parents who are cooperative and more likely to foster a healthy relationship with the non-custodial parent are favored
  • The level of conflict between parents
  • A child’s relationship with each parent
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • The developmental, physical, and emotional needs of the child

Kimberly Surratt served for eight years on the executive council and has been the vice chair and then chair of the State Bar of Nevada Family Law Section. In addition, she is the President-Elect of the Nevada Justice Association and the chair of the domestic lobbying committee. She has lobbied with the Nevada Justice Association since 2004.

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