Changing Custody Agreement: What You Need to Know

Imagine a rule that decides where a kid should live after their parents separate. 

As time goes by, things change. Kids grow up, and what worked for a 5-year-old might not work for a 10-year-old. 

In Nevada, there’s been talk about whether these changes, like a child getting older or a lot of time passing since the first rule was made, can be reasons to make a new custody order. 

A recent Nevada court case called Bertuccini v. Esposito looked at this question. 

In this blog, we’ll talk about this case and what it means for kids and their families in Nevada.

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Paul J. Bertuccini III and Lisa Esposito used to be married and have a child together, born in 2011. When they got divorced in 2014, they both decided that Lisa would be the main person to take care of the child. Paul got visitation but Lisa had primary custody. 

After their divorce, the days Paul got to spend with the child changed a bit in 2015 and 2016. When Paul brought his case, he was spending about ten days every month with their child.

The Change Request

In 2021, Bertuccini wanted to change how often he got to see and take care of his child. This is called a “motion to modify custody.” It’s like asking the judge to change the rules about who gets to spend more time with the child. He had some reasons for this:

  • As kids grow up, what they need can change. His child was getting older, almost a teenager, and moving to middle school. So, Bertuccini felt their needs were different now.
  • Both he and Lisa had different job hours than before. He thought this meant Lisa wasn’t around as much, but he had more free time to be with the child.
  • They had problems making decisions together, like choosing which school the child should go to or what activities they should do outside of school.
  • Bertuccini believed that Lisa was trying to make the child feel bad about him and the child’s stepsister (his daughter from another relationship).

But Lisa didn’t agree. She said that just because time has passed, it doesn’t mean things have changed enough to make a new rule about who gets to be with the child more.

What the District Court Decided

After listening to both sides, the district court, which is like a place where a judge decides on big problems, made a decision. They wrote a long six-page paper explaining why they said “no” to Bertuccini’s request to change the rules about spending time with the child. The main reason was that they believed just because time has passed and the child is growing older doesn’t mean the rules about who the child lives with should change. They thought there needed to be bigger reasons to make a change.

Bertuccini's Next Step: The Appeal

After the district court said “no” to Bertuccini’s request, he decided to take another step. He made an “appeal.” This is like asking a higher group of judges to check if the first decision was made correctly. Bertuccini believed that the district court made a mistake by not having a special type of meeting called an “evidentiary hearing” to look closely at all the facts and proofs. Now, it was up to the Court of Appeals, which is this higher group of judges, to see if he was right.

What the Higher Court Said: The Court of Appeals' Thoughts

The Court of Appeals looked at the situation and remembered another similar case called Myers v. Haskins. In that case, they talked about the importance of having that special meeting, the “evidentiary hearing,” to look at all the facts and proofs. 

The Court said that when making a decision, judges at the district court should use real and true information given by the person asking for the change. This could be in official papers, written statements, or other proofs. They should believe what this person says when deciding if they need a trial.

The Court also said that when judges at the district court decide on issues like these, they need to clearly explain their reasons. This helps if the case is checked again by a higher court and also lets the parents understand why the decision was made the way it was.

The Final Decision: What the Higher Court Decided

The Court of Appeals, the higher group of judges, noticed that the district court didn’t really talk about many of the points Bertuccini brought up. They thought the district court didn’t fully use their power in the right way. So, the higher court said that the trial court was not right.

The case was sent back (that’s what “remanded” means) to the trial judge. This time, the trial just was told to look more closely at everything and also to remember the lessons from the Myers case when making a new decision.

Changing Custody in Nevada: What It Means for Parents

If you’re a parent in Nevada and you want to change the custody arrangement of your child based on their age or how long it’s been since the last custody decision, this case tells us some important things:

  • Age and Time Matter: Just because time has passed or your child has grown older doesn’t mean you can’t ask for a change in custody. These things can matter, especially if they come with other changes in your child’s life or needs.
  • Clear Reasons: When asking for a change in custody, it’s good to have clear reasons. For example, Bertuccini mentioned things like changes in work schedules, problems with co-parenting, and the child’s needs changing as they grow up. These reasons can be taken seriously.
  • Evidentiary Hearing: If you bring up valid points, the court might need to have a special meeting (called an “evidentiary hearing”) to look closely at the proofs and facts. This meeting helps the court understand better and make a fair decision.
  • Higher Courts Can Help: If the first decision doesn’t go your way, and you truly believe there was a mistake, there’s a higher group of judges (like the Court of Appeals) that can check things. In Bertuccini’s case, they said the first decision was not fully right.
  • Good Explanations: When courts decide, they should give clear explanations. So, if they say “no” to your request, they should explain why. This can help you understand the decision and maybe even help if you decide to ask again in the future.

In short, in Nevada, if you think your child’s growing age or the amount of time since the last custody order means there should be a change, it’s possible! Just remember to have clear reasons and be ready to show why the change is best for your child.

Navigating child custody modifications can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to Rosenblum Allen Law Firm today, or schedule an appointment online with our experienced team. Let us help you secure the best future for your child.

Further Reading

To our valued readers, we understand that navigating family law matters can be complex and emotionally challenging. That’s why our lead attorney, Molly Rosenblum Allen, Esq, has dedicated her expertise to creating a suite of resources designed to guide you during these uncertain times. Below, you’ll find a list of informative resources that cover a wide range of topics related to custody and family law in Las Vegas. Whether you’re a father seeking to understand your rights, a grandparent looking to learn more about your role in a child’s life, or you’re facing the intricacies of a child custody battle, we’re here to help.

We encourage you to explore these resources to empower yourself with knowledge and make informed decisions about your family law matters. If you have any questions or need personalized assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to The Rosenblum Allen Law Firm

The Reason You Haven't Hired A Child Custody Attorney Yet​

We’re ready to fight for the rights of your family if you hire us. We’re waiting to jump into action on the behalf of your family.

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Offsite Resources You May Find Helpful


  1. State of Nevada Legislature: Legislative history of Nevada custody law NRS 125C.0035.

  2. FindLaw: FindLaw overview of Nevada child custody laws and modifying custody.

What's Next?

Choosing the right attorney for a custody battle can make all the difference, and here’s why we’re the best choice for your family’s needs:

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