To say that child custody is complicated would be an understatement.
And that goes for nearly every custodial situation you might find yourself in—whether you’re escaping an abusive relationship, going through divorce proceedings, or amicably separating from your partner.
The process of determining which parent gets custody, how much custody, and when they get custody will leave you emotionally and physically drained.
You go in with so many unanswered questions, such as:
- How do I figure out what’s best for my children?
- Will I have to share 50/50 custody with my abusive ex?
- What do I tell my kids about what’s going on?
- How long will we be in the court system?
Child custody isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario.
- There’s no official guidebook for how to deal with custody battles properly.
- Each state has its own rules and laws in place involving custody agreements.
- Things you do in your child’s best interest might hurt your chances of full custody.
- If you’re a mother living in Nevada fighting for custody, you can breathe a sigh of relief.
In this guide, we’ll go over 103 things you need to know about this unique situation.
We’ll talk about everything from what to expect during family mediation and TPO court to how to negotiate custody during vacations and how child abuse accusations may impact custody.
We’ll even squeeze in a few tips for making this process easier for your children!
- Joint physical custody is the preference for parents sharing custody in Nevada.
- The law is gender-neutral when it comes to child custody, which means mothers and fathers have equal custody court rights.
- The fact that you have a young child will not be a reason to keep the father from having equal time. There is no “Tender Years Doctrine” in Nevada.
- Clark County Family Court has a standard holiday schedule for each judge.
- If you and your ex cannot agree on how you will share holidays with your children, the Judge will decide for you and could impose their standard holiday schedule.
- If you are abusing drugs, you should expect to be drug tested, and depending on what you are using; you could lose custody of your children.
- Alcohol abuse is another reason a Court might award one parent primary physical custody. Parents who suspect alcohol abuse might be required to wear a SCRAM device or undergo random alcohol testing.
- A domestic violence conviction gives you ground to win your primary physical custody.
- A substantiated CPS case means you might lose custody of your children.
- Interfering with your ex’s time with the children is a reason to deny you custody.
- If you are breastfeeding your child, the father will still be allowed equal time.
- Your child does not get to decide which parent they want to live with at 14 (or any other age).
- You do not need your ex’s consent to take a vacation with your children. You need to notify him where you are going, where you are staying, the dates of travel, and a phone number where you will be in case of an emergency.
- Even if your ex doesn’t pay you child support, you still must let them see the children.
- Your ex can’t just give up his rights in exchange for not paying child support. A judge must find that terminating your ex’s rights is in your child’s best interest.
- Mothers do not get to decide where the children go to school. Nevada law favors joint legal custody.
- Your child’s father can attend ALL your children’s medical appointments.
- The children’s father is permitted to be at all school events, including parent-teacher conferences, open house, and school productions.
- If you have joint legal custody, you are required to keep the children’s father informed of all significant medical issues and educational issues related to your children.
- You don’t get to approve the vacations your ex takes with the children. He needs to notify you where they are going, how and when they are traveling, and a number where you can reach the children while they are gone.
- Sole legal custody is usually only awarded in the most egregious cases, like a parent who with no involvement with their children for years. If you don’t have a significant reason to ask for sole legal custody, don’t do it.
- Yes! You will be required to disclose your address, where you reside with your child, to your ex unless you have a confidential address by law.
- You will have a chance to attend Family Court Mediation with your ex to try to resolve child custody.
- Don’t bring your lawyer to family mediation. Your lawyer doesn’t have to raise your children – you do. While your lawyer can offer suggestions, it is an issue between you and your ex.
- Be prepared to discuss regular visitation, holiday visitation, vacation, and transportation at mediation.
- Most times, Family Mediation will not mediate child support-related matters.
- Your mediator will prepare a Parenting Plan based on the agreements you reach with your ex in mediation.
- If ordered to attend mediation, you must attend even if you think you can’t resolve your case. It’s a court order!
- Mediation does cost some money and gets based on a sliding scale of income.
- Your mediator is neutral and is there to help you and your ex resolve your case.
- Don’t spend your time in mediation trying to convince your mediator you have the winning arguments.
- Prepare for mediation by thinking ahead of time about what you want for regular visitation, holidays, and vacations and be prepared to present this to your ex in mediation.
- Everything that occurs during mediation is entirely confidential. The mediator will not tell the judge that your spouse was unreasonable or that you wanted every other week, but your spouse only wanted you to have visitation on Tuesdays.
- You cannot use any proposals made in mediation as evidence against your spouse in Court.
- The fact that mediation is confidential should allow you and your spouse the opportunity to discuss openly and honestly a custodial arrangement that will work for your children without the fear of it getting used against you in Court.
- Mediation only works if both parties are honest and truthful about the case. If you are only asking for primary custody because you want the other side to pay child support, mediation will not work for you.
- If a mediator believes that you are not honest, the mediator may decide to terminate the mediation.
- Successful mediation requires that both parents are respectful of the other. Don’t attend mediation with the idea that you will get the opportunity to dump all over your ex.
- For mediation to succeed, you must be committed to working towards an out-of-court resolution.
- Excessive phone calls to the police or CPS about your ex are not favored.
- If your ex is violent and abusive, you need to call the police.
- You can obtain a restraining order for yourself and your children if your ex is abusive.
- You should include your regular address on the restraining order as well as any addresses where you might be staying with your children.
- You should include your place of employment and your children’s school on the restraining order.
- Most restraining orders are only valid for 30 days. If you need a restraining order for an extended period, you need to request an extension hearing.
- If granted an extended protective order, you can request the restraining order stay in place for up to 1 year.
- It doesn’t cost anything to file for a restraining order. If you are a victim of domestic violence, you should file for a protective order at family court.
- There does not have to be physical violence for you to obtain a protective order. Stalking, harassment, emotional abuse, and financial abuse are other reasons to get a protective order.
- Before you book your prepaid trip, review your custody document and make sure that you have scheduled the correct number of days, and confirm that the decree/order is clear about how much time you are entitled to and when.
- Make sure that you and your ex are on the same page about counting vacation and holiday days, what type of notice is required, and what information needs gets provided.
- Be sure that you and your ex are clear about what type of communication the children will have with the other parent when they are on vacation.
- Make sure you coordinate your vacation and holiday time with the kids well in advance and that the dates you have selected are open. The last thing you want to have happen is for both of you to prepay for a trip for the same dates.
- Your ex does not need to permit you to go on vacation unless your custody decree says so – your ex does however need notification of the vacation times.
- If your custody agreement requires written permission from the other party to take a vacation, make sure you get the consent in writing either in a letter, email, or text.
- Most custodial orders specify that a parent taking a vacation with the children must provide an itinerary to the other parent. Make sure to include the method of travel (airline, bus, train, car, etc.), the dates and times of travel, and the place where the children will be staying.
- Keep in mind that the other parent will still want to speak with the children while they are on vacation and especially if your vacation falls over a major holiday. Your vacation plans should include some time set aside so the children can share their adventures with the other parent.
- Keep in mind that your ex is entitled to the same uninterrupted vacation time with the children as you. Do your best to allow your ex a good family vacation as well.
- The holidays are stressful enough without having to try to figure out visitation time with your children. Planning holiday visitation can create problems not only for divorced or divorced spouses but also for children. We offer the following tips to help you take some of the stress out of planning visitation with your children for the holidays.
- Keep a copy of your holiday plan handy. Many lawyers take extended time off during the holidays or have shorter office hours, and finding a lawyer to track down your holiday schedule during a holiday may be difficult.
- Be flexible with holidays if you can. Remember, the most comfortable holiday schedule for everyone may require some changes from the regular visitation schedule. It may be hard to break long-standing traditions, but developing new habits can help to reduce stress.
- Find out what is essential to your kids. They may have a holiday gathering that holds a special place for them; if this is the case, you should try and accommodate them if it makes sense.
- Some holidays are more important than others to you. Don’t fight for a holiday for the sake of fighting. If you don’t care about a holiday, there is no harm in allowing the other parent to spend time with the children.
- The holidays can be incredibly stressful even if you aren’t divorced, so remember to take a moment to relax and enjoy all the holiday festivities. Enjoy the company of friends and family, and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.
- If you believe your ex is abusing your children, you need to report it to CPS.
- You should also report any suspected child abuse to law enforcement.
- If your ex is accusing you of abusing or neglecting your children, take the allegations seriously.
- A substantiated claim of child abuse could result in being denied various government licenses, being denied employment, could result in your arrest and incarceration and could cost you your children in a custody battle. It is vital to address the allegations as soon as they occur.
- Hire an attorney experienced with child abuse cases for any allegations against you and your child custody case. There are a lot of attorneys who think they can handle child abuse cases, and they can’t.
- If CPS moves forward with a legal case against you, it is critical to have an attorney that routinely practices in child abuse defense on your side. An experienced child abuse defense lawyer will offer you solid legal advice, work your case through the system relatively smoothly and reach a resolution that benefits you and your children.
- Are you facing an accusation of abuse by your ex? Do not speak to law enforcement or CPS without a lawyer present. Having a child abuse defense lawyer with you when you talk to CPS and law enforcement is imperative if you want to resolve your case quickly and stay out of jail.
- If you get accused of abuse or neglect, visit your children! It would help if you did this unless CPS or a judge tells you that you cannot have visitation with your child.
- In many, many cases, CPS can tell that allegations of child abuse are being made falsely by an angry ex. Unfortunately, CPS MUST investigate. Just because CPS is investigating a case does not mean that you cannot visit your children.
- If an allegation of child abuse goes beyond a simple investigation, it is crucial to document every interaction you have with your children, and with CPS and law enforcement. Keep a log of your visits, including the dates and times you visited – this will help with a custody case and getting your children returned to you.
- Keep track of any services that you engage in, such as anger management, parenting classes, or family therapy.
- If you suspect abuse of your children and you are communicating with CPS/DFS, follow up your communications up with an email, and copy your lawyer on all written communication.
- Be careful about discussing the specifics of your custody case with your children.
- Never tell your children you are in custody court. On the contrary, you need to assure your custody litigation is not because of them.
- Talk to your children and encourage them to speak openly about their feelings regarding custody, visitation, and holidays.
- Kids are going to be sad, angry, withdrawn, and even act out during a separation from your ex. Try to be patient with your children and understand their feelings.
- Don’t surprise your children with a move, activities, or family member visits. Keep your kids in the loop about significant life changes like a move, a new schedule, or specific actions.
- Keep consistency in your rules. Rules that are applied before you and your ex separated should continue after the divorce. Kids appreciate consistency.
- Make time for your kids every day, even if it’s only a phone call. Your children need to know you are there for them.
- Protect your children from the conflict you have with your ex. Children should not be involved with support payments or other “adult matters.”
- If your children are having an incredibly difficult time, seek professional help. Make sure you include your ex in this decision.
- Do not speak negatively about your ex to the kids. Your former partner is still your children’s parent.
- Do not ask your children to choose, take sides or otherwise mediate disputes between you and your ex.
- Set realistic expectations for your kids that include spending time with them as much as possible.
- Tell your children you love them every day.
- Be on time for all court appearances.
- Do not wear excessive jewelry to court, especially if you are asking for alimony.
- Do not argue with the judge.
- Be prepared to go through security before your court hearing, so don’t bring weapons of any kind to court with you or the judge will find out about it.
- Bring only one or two people with you to your court hearings. Having an entourage will not win you favors with the Court.
- Got a new boyfriend? Leave him at home. Judges don’t appreciate mothers showing up to Court with their new significant other while arguing with their old significant other. It’s a bad look.
- Do not argue with your ex in the hallways before or after your Court hearings. There are video cameras throughout the Court, and the judge will find out about your altercation.
- Tell your lawyer the truth about everything. Do not keep secrets, hoping that your custody lawyer will not find out, or worse, that the opposing attorney will not find out.
- The sooner you tell your child custody lawyer something that could hurt your case, the better. Knowing “the bad” allows your lawyer to prepare a response before a judge finds out and will give your lawyer time to gather evidence to support your position.
- Keep your appointments with your lawyer. It shows your attorney you are serious about the custody of your children.
- Be patient with your lawyer when asking for a return phone call or email. Chances are your attorney is in court or meeting with another client and will return your call as soon as possible.
- Listen to your custody attorney, not your friends or family. Your family and friends mean well, and their motives may be right, but they are not lawyers. Your lawyer knows the law and will give you the best advice to keep custody of your children.
- If your case is essential to you, then you should make sure to pay your lawyer. If you are not paying attention to paying your bill, that is a signal to the lawyer that you do not take this matter seriously.
- You are not required to hire an attorney for your custody case, but the Court will not appoint you a free lawyer. You can try to qualify for a pro bono attorney if you cannot afford a lawyer. Otherwise, you will have to represent yourself in custody court.
- Nevada child custody cases can be complicated and difficult. It is vital to hire an attorney who has experience in representing people in contested custody cases.
Approaching a child custody case usually comes with heavy emotions on both sides.
With that, you must focus on one crucial thing:
What’s best for the children.
Understand that this process can be lengthy, emotionally harrowing, and expensive. But if you follow these 103 tips and take the legal advice your lawyer provides, the process doesn’t have to be as complicated or painful as it sounds.