Are you a parent who is dealing with a child custody matter for the first time? If so, this article is meant for you. Read on to learn the basics of child custody in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada.
If you are a resident of Las Vegas or Henderson, in order for a Nevada court to issue a child custody or visitation order, your children must be residents of Nevada. Usually, this means that your children have called Nevada home for at least six months, or since birth, if a child is less than six months old.
Child Custody Actions
Child custody actions are involved in different types of family court cases, including annulments, separations, divorces, and paternity actions. When parents are married, child custody is usually addressed in separations and divorces, and when parents are not married, it is usually tied to paternity cases.
There are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to which parent makes important decisions for the child, such as the child’s education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. Typically, judges award joint legal custody so both parents can be involved in making major decisions for their child. Rarely, only one parent will be awarded sole legal custody.
Physical custody has to do with where the child spends their time, more specifically, how much time a child spends with each parent. There are three types of physical custody in Nevada:
- Joint physical custody where each parent has the child for at least 40% of the time,
- Primary physical custody where one parent has the child more than 60% of the time, and
- Sole legal custody where one parent has the child 100% of the time.
“If there is no court order, parents automatically have joint physical custody rights to a child unless a court order says otherwise,” according to the Family Courts and Services Center.
Can Parents Decide on Custody?
The family courts encourage parents to work out an arrangement regarding child custody on their own, but if custody is contested, the judge on their case will refer them to the Family Mediation Center so they can try and reach a custody agreement on their own. If an agreement is not reached, a judge will have to decide for them based on the best interests of the child doctrine.
At Leavitt Law Firm, we understand how sensitive child custody can be for parents, and we’re here to offer our expertise. If you need assistance with a child custody matter, please contact our firm to meet with a Las Vegas child custody attorney.