We understand that divorce can be a stressful time for both the spouses separating, as well as the children involved in the divorce. One of the biggest stressors for parents who are divorcing is ensuring that their child is affected as little as possible. So, let us help answer some basic child custody, visitation, and support questions that you may have, and explain how the divorce process works when you have kids.
Who will get custody?
Both parents should discuss and decide a child custody plan. However, if both parents cannot reach a custody and/or visitation agreement, then the court will make the decision based on what is in the best interest for the child or children.
What types of custody are there?
In the state of Nevada, there are two different types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody awards one or both parents the role of deciding major life decisions for the child. These decisions can be inclusive of where the child goes to school, what religion the child will be raised with, which doctor the child sees, what sport the child plays, etc. Physical custody, on the other hand, is based on which parent the child lives with. Generally, courts assume that awarding Joint Legal and Joint Physical Custody is in the child’s best interest. Joint Legal and Joint Physical Custody provides both parents with equal visitation and equal input into raising the child. However, there are instances where awarding both parents with Joint Legal and Joint Physical Custody is not in the best interest of the child. In those instances, the court will award Primary or Sole Custody, which allows for one parent to have the child reside with them the majority of the time and to solely make the major life decisions for the child.
Can my child decide which parent they want to live with?
Not necessarily. Nevada has a legal doctrine called, “Teenage Discretion” that requires a judge to discern whether a child has reached a sufficient level of intelligence and maturity to make that decision. There is no set age or guidelines, and this decision depends solely on the judge’s discretion. Even if the judge considers the child’s preferences, that is only one of several factors considered when the judge makes a custody decision.
Will my son or daughter need to appear in court?
No. The state of Nevada attempts to protect children as much as possible from all of the activities in domestic cases and therefore, they keep children out of court. However, occasionally, a situation will occur that requires a child’s input and preferences to be presented in court – such as when child custody is being decided. During these times, a “child interview” will occur between the child and a court-certified mental health specialist. This specialist will obtain the child’s input outside of court and then present that information to the court on the child’s behalf.
If the child’s parents cannot agree on who gets custody, what factors will the court consider when making a decision?
When deciding who gets custody of their child, the court takes into account the child’s preference (Teenage Discretion), the child’s needs (physically, developmentally, and emotionally), the child’s relationship with his/her family members, the parents’ willingness for visitation, each parent’s ability to provide for their child, and any history of abuse within the family.
Here at JK Nelson Law, we understand that you are worried about how your divorce is impacting your children and that you want to ensure your child’s safety and well-being, both physically and emotionally. We strongly believe that lawyers can help properly mediate a divorce so that both parties can reach an agreement to ensure their child’s well-being.