One of the most emotional parts of divorce is the matter of child custody. Some families are lucky, and the couple can easily reach an agreement, keeping their kids out of the battle, even if there is high animosity in other areas. But for many couples, custody is a sticking point.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the best interest of the child or children must come first. Nevada favors custody arrangements that foster a good relationship between the child and each parent. It is always best if parents can come to an agreement on custody, but you should talk to your divorce attorney about the arrangement to make sure that it is fair and that you are not short-changing yourself or your child to appease your spouse and avoid having to fight for what is truly best.
Divorce attorney Thomas C. Bradley can guide you through this process and fight for your parental rights when necessary. Please call us at 775-323-5178 to schedule your confidential consultation. We proudly serve Reno and Sparks, Nevada.
How Custody Is Determined in Nevada
In some cases, parents work together to create their own custody agreement. If they cannot, the courts will make the decisions. The best interest of the child is all that matters to the courts in family law cases. A custody determination is not used to punish or reward either spouse for their conduct in the marriage. However, your conduct during divorce proceedings will affect custody outcomes if the court feels that you are trying to use your child as a bargaining piece or trying to damage the relationship between your child and the other spouse.
Nevada considers many factors to determine what is in the best interest of the child. A few examples include:
- Any child abuse, child neglect or domestic violence committed by the parent
- The wishes of the child
- The ability to maintain relationships between the child and siblings
- Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs
- Nature of the relationship between the child and each parent
- Which parent is more likely to allow a relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent
Physical and Legal Custody
Physical custody refers to who the child lives with. Legal custody refers to who gets to make important life decisions for the child. Examples of the types of decisions that are included in legal custody include:
- Whether the child will attend public or private school
- Decisions regarding extracurricular activities
- If the child will wear braces
- If the child can have an elective surgery
- Religious affiliation of the child, if any
In most cases, parents will have joint legal custody, regardless of the physical custody arrangement. The exception being if a parent is ruled unfit.
Physical Custody: Joint, Primary with Visitation, or Sole Custody
Joint custody is generally favored now, in Nevada. In joint custody, the child spends about half of their time with each parent, but it is not a strict 50/50 split. As long as the child is spending at least 40% of their time with each parent, it is considered joint custody.
In cases where joint custody is not appropriate, one parent will receive primary custody with the other parent having visitation rights. The parent who has the child more than 60% of the time has primary custody. In such case, there will be a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent. There are no specific requirements for how the schedule is structured or how much time a child spends with the noncustodial parent, but the schedule must be specific enough to be enforceable.
Custodial parents do not have the right to deny or interfere with visitation, even if the non-custodial parent is behind on child support. If one parent denies the other parent visitation, the court can order make-up visits. A parent who continually denies visitation can be held in contempt of court and go to jail. In extreme cases parents who prevent visitation can be charged with a felony. Likewise, a parent who refuses to return a child can be charged with a felony.
In sole custody, one parent has physical custody and the other parent does not have visitation rights. This is very rare in Nevada.
Schedule Your Child Custody and Visitation Consultation Today
If are dealing with a child custody or visitation issue in Reno or Sparks, Nevada, please call 775-323-5178 or contact the Law Office of Thomas C. Bradley online to set up your initial consultation.