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Child Custody


Physical child custody refers to the physical living arrangement between parent and child. If a child physically resides with a parent more than 60 percent of the time, that parent has primary physical custody.

If the child resides with each parent at least 40 percent of the time the parents share joint physical custody of the child.

Sole physical custody is when a child lives with one parent and that parent has control of visitation with the other parent.

Legal custody refers to the right of a parent to make important decisions about a child’s upbringing. These decisions can include:

  • School
  • Religion
  • Medical treatment
  • Relocation
  • Other major decisions


Child custody in Nevada is determined in one of two ways:

  • By mutual agreement of the parents
  • By the court

When the case begins the Court will presume joint custody is in the best interest of the child if:

  • The parents have agreed to joint custody
  • Each parent has tried to establish a meaningful relationship with the child — even if the other parent has frustrated those efforts

When parents do not agree on custody, they must attend mediation in an attempt to agree on custody arrangements. If the parents cannot agree, the judge will determine custody.

Child custody is decided by attempting to determine what is in child’s best interest.
Some of the main considerations in determining what is in the child’s best interest are:

  • Any history of child neglect or abuse by a parent
  • Any incidents of domestic abuse on the part of a parent
  • The wishes of the child,
  • Sibling relationships
  • Conflict between the parents
  • The ability of the parents to cooperate to put the child’s needs first
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • The child’s relationship with each parent

Judges may not inherently favor a mother over a father when making a custody determination. The best interests of the child are the only thing that matters. If it is in the child’s best interests, the Court may grant physical custody to one parent or to the parties jointly. Once a judge has made the determination, it is binding on the parents.

A judge may grant visitation rights to a parent who does not have custody.

Nevada also provides for Grandparent Rights.


If the circumstances of one parent has changed, such as losing a job, the child has new special needs, if one parent wishes to move out of state, or if a parent is not following the court order, child custody orders may be modified by the court.

If parent chooses to move out of Nevada with the child, they must reach an agreement with the other parent or seek court approval to relocate. Common elements in relocation are:

  • A sensible, good-faith reason for the move
  • The best interests of the child favor the relocation
  • The move will benefit both the child and the relocating parent
  • The move is not intended to deprive the non-relocating parent of their time with the child
  • Whether the other parent will be able to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child