Child custody laws are the body of laws which govern parents with regard to their child or children. These laws involve some very important issues which arise when raising children, especially in cases where the parents of the child or children are separated or divorced.
It is common for custody disputes to arise and require court intervention to resolve. Every state may have its own child custody laws and may vary by jurisdiction.
The majority of child custody laws address issues including:
- Which parent or parent the child or children resides or stays with;
- Whether a parent has rights to occasionally visit the child, referred to as child visitation laws;
- Whether a parent has the right to make certain legal decisions on behalf of the child or children;
- How long the children are to live with the parent; and
- Various other matters.
Child custody laws often overlap with other family law issues. For example, the calculation of monthly child support payments often depends upon the type or manner of child custody arrangement between the parents.
In many cases, the parent with fewer parental responsibilities or custody rights is the parent who makes child support payments. Of course, this may vary from case to case.
What is a Child Custody Dispute?
Child custody disputes may arise when the parents or caretakers of a child are not able to agree upon the child custody arrangements of a child or children. These issues frequently arise within the context of a divorce but may arise in other situations as well.
A custody dispute often presents many challenges and legal issues for the parties who are involved. This is due to the fact that custody issues require consideration of the lifestyle and needs of the children as well as the parents.
In many cases, a custody dispute will require intervention from the family law court system. This is especially true in cases involving an issue with the safety of any of the parties, for example, if child abuse or spousal abuse is occurring.
In some situations, the parties may be able to create a proposed child custody agreement on their own, which can be presented to the court for approval. If the parties are unable to do so, judicial intervention will continue until a suitable child custody arrangement is finalized into a custody order which is legally enforceable.
How are Decisions Made in a Child Custody Dispute?
In a court proceeding which involves child custody, child support, or visitation, any legal decisions are made according to the child’s best interest standard. This means that the needs, abilities, and background of the child or children are given priority over any preferences of the adult parties who are involved in the dispute.
This is done to help ensure the safety, welfare, and well-being of the child as they grow up. It also helps to preserve an atmosphere of safety and protection for the child or children.
In some cases, one parent may seek to influence a court decision so they can obtain a more favorable custody arrangement for themselves, for example, one which works better with their work schedule. If, however, a court believes that the arrangement would harm the child in any way, it will not be ordered.
The child’s wishes in a custody dispute must be very carefully considered by a court, especially if the children are older. In most cases, the child must be of sufficient mental capacity and maturity to contribute to the decision-making process.
What are Some Common Legal Issues During a Custody Dispute?
Because child custody laws may vary by jurisdiction, each child custody dispute will be unique. Child custody determinations and orders are typically made on a case-by-case basis, with the court considering such factors as:
- The age as well as the physical, mental, and emotional condition of the child or children;
- The nature of the relationships between each parent or adult and the child;
- Whether the child or children has any special medical needs or other special needs;
- The age and mental, emotional, and physical condition of each of the parents;
- The financial stability as well as the work background of both of the parents;
- Whether there have been any incidents of abuse, violence, or neglect in the past; or
- The various child custody rules and family laws which may apply to the case.
In addition, other legal matters may overlap with child custody issues. This may include legal issues such as:
- Visitation rights;
- Grandparent rights;
- Foster rights;
- Child support matters; and
- Relocation issues.
The assistance of a lawyer may be required in these types of cases, especially in situations where there are many overlapping issues that need to be resolved.
What Does Nevada Law Encourage in Child Custody Disputes?
The States of Nevada laws encourage parents to work out custody arrangements between themselves without bringing the issues to court. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will make any custody decisions based upon the child’s best interest standard.
The courts usually favor joint custody. However, sole custody may be granted in certain cases.
What is a Parenting Plan?
Parenting plans are detailed, written agreements which outline how divorcing parents will share legal and physical custody of their children. In Nevada, a court may require a parenting plan prior to approving a divorce.
If the parents are unable to agree on a plan, mediation may be ordered. In some cases, parenting classes are also required.
What Does the Court Consider in Assigning Custody?
Courts in Nevada will examine several factors when determining what is in the best interests of the child, including:
- Whether each one of the parents can adequately care for the child or children;
- The physical and mental health of parents;
- The child’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs;
- The strength of each parent-child relationship;
- The level of conflict between the parents;
- The importance of sibling relationships as well as other familial relationships;
- Evidence of child abuse or spousal abuse;
- The child’s reasonable preference, if age appropriate; and
- The parents’ wishes.
The gender of the parent is not considered as a factor. In some custody disputes, a guardian ad litem may be assigned to advocate for the child and help assess their best interests.
What Happens When the Court has Made a Decision?
Once the court has made a decision and the custody and divorce orders are signed, they will be filed with the court clerk. Both of the parents are then bound by the custody order.
The court will be required to approve any modifications of the order.
Should I Contact a Nevada Lawyer Regarding my Custody Issues?
A child custody dispute can be emotionally difficult for all parties. It may also require a detailed understanding of the law, especially in cases where there are multiple legal issues.
If you have any issues, questions, or concerns regarding custody or visitation, it may be helpful to consult with a Nevada child custody lawyer. Your lawyer can advise you regarding the child custody laws in Nevada as well as represent you in any family law court sessions.
Your lawyer will also help advocate for you and your children and work to secure the best possible parenting arrangement for your family.