Whether you are married or unmarried, child custody upon divorce or termination of your relationship can be one of the most stressful times in a person’s life.
Child custody comes in two forms: legal and physical custody.
Legal custody is the ability to make medical, educational and religious decisions on behalf of your child(ren). In the vast majority of all cases, parties will be awarded joint legal custody of the child(ren). NRS 125C.002 provides, in relevant part, that joint legal custody in the child(ren)’s best interests if the parties have agreed to the same. An award of sole legal custody may be granted to one parent if that parent can evidence to the Court that the other parent has attempted to or has in fact frustrated their intent to establish a meaningful relationship with the child(ren). The statute also provides that an award of joint legal custody to both parents does not have any relation to the determination of physical custody of the child(ren).
Physical custody relates to how much time each parent spends with the child(ren). NRS 125C.0025 states that, presumptively, an award of joint physical custody in is the child(ren)’s best interests. NRS 125C.003 and NRS 125C.0035 provide factors for the Court to determine whether joint physical custody to both parents or primary physical custody to one parent serves the child(ren)’s best interests. Some of the factors the Court will utilize in such a determination are: the level of conflict between the parents, the ability of the parents to meet the needs of the child(ren), the respective mental health of the parents, nature of the relationship between the parents and the child(ren), ability of the child(ren) to maintain a relationship with a sibling, parental abuse or neglect of the child(ren) by a parent, and any acts of domestic violence against the other parent or child(ren).
The determination of what joint or primary physical custody entails has been modified over the years. Presently, controlling law requires a parent to spend approximately 40% of the time with the child(ren) in order to maintain joint physical custody. In the event that one parent spends more than 60% of the time with the child(ren), an award of primary physical custody may be warranted, subject to the factors discussed above. Additionally, the Court may look to the time each parent has spent with the child(ren) and their respective roles, during their marriage or relationship.
As discussed in child support, the determination of physical custody can have a profound effect on the amount of support paid by one parent to the other as and for support of the minor child(ren).
When children are involved, the stakes are at their highest. At Leavitt Family Law, we have the expertise and experience to ensure all avenues are explored to secure as much time as appropriate and necessary between you and your child(ren).