Nevada Divorce Insights with Victoria Crockett
Nevada Divorce Insights with Victoria Crockett
Nevada Divorce Insights with Victoria Crockett

Nevada Divorce Insights is a forum where we discuss various aspects of the divorce or annulment process from the perspective of a paralegal with 20 years of experience filing with Nevada family courts.

Custody, Paternity & Child Support

& Child Support

Overview of Custody, Paternity and Child Support

Child custody issues are involved in many family law cases. A court must address paternity, child custody, visitation, child support, and other child-related matters whenever parents file a court action. When parents are married, these issues are handled as part of a divorce, separation, or annulment.

The Court Process

When parents are married, custody issues are decided as part of a divorce, separation, or annulment. If you and the other parent can agree to most or all of terms, the case can be finished fairly quickly.


For a Nevada court to make any child custody and visitation orders, Nevada must be the "home state" of the children. This means that the children usually must have lived in Nevada for 6 months (or since birth if the child is not yet 6 months old) before the case is filed.

If the child left Nevada less than six months ago and a parent still lives in Nevada, Nevada may still be the "home state." There are exceptions to this general rule.


When a man and woman are married and have a child, the husband is presumed to be the child's father.

Legal Custody (Who Makes Decisions About the Child)

Legal custody refers to the basic responsibility for a child and the parent's ability to access information and make major decisions that affect the child, including the child's healthcare, education, and religious upbringing. Parents automatically have joint legal custody rights to a child unless a court orders otherwise.

When a case comes to court, judges must generally award both parents joint legal custody so that both parents can make major decisions about the child. However, in some rare cases, one parent may be awarded sole legal custody so that only that parent will have the right to make major decisions concerning the child.

Physical Custody (Where The Child Spends His or Her Time)

Physical custody refers to the amount of time the children spend with each parent. There are three different types of physical custody a judge can order:

Joint Physical Custody: This usually means that each parent has the children at least 40% of the time. This amounts to at least 146 days per calendar year. Parents automatically have joint physical custody rights to a child unless a court orders otherwise.

Primary Physical Custody: This usually means that one parent has the children more than 60% of the time during the year. The other parent will have "parenting time" or "visitation."

Sole Physical Custody: This means that one parent has the children 100% of the time, and the other parent has no visitation or extremely limited visitation. This is not ordered very often.

If the parents cannot come to an agreement, the judge will set a trial and will decide custody based on the "best interest of the children."

There are many factors that a judge will consider when deciding the best interest of the children. The factors come from NRS 125.480(4) and include:

  • The wishes of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to express an intelligent preference;
  • Any nomination by a parent or a guardian for the child;
  • Which parent is more likely to allow the child to have frequent associations and a continuing relationship with the noncustodial parent;
  • The level of conflict between the parties;
  • The ability of the parents to cooperate to meet the child's needs;
  • The mental and physical health of the parents;
  • The nature of the relationship of the child with each parent;
  • The physical, developmental and emotional needs of the child;
  • The nature of the relationship of the child with each parent;
  • The ability of the child to maintain a relationship with any sibling;
  • Any history of parental abuse or neglect of the child or a sibling;
  • Whether a parent has committed an act of domestic violence against the child, parent of the child, or person residing with the child;
  • Whether the parent has committed an act of abduction against the child or a sibling.

Child Support

Child support is set based on a percentage of the parents "gross monthly income." Gross monthly income includes pre-tax income from all sources, including employment, tips, overtime, unemployment, and retirement. Each parent may have to provide the judge and the other parent with a financial statement, paystubs, and possibly prior tax returns so each parent's income can be determined.

If one parent has primary or sole physical custody, the other parent will pay the following in child support:

  • 1 child = 18% of income
  • 2 children = 25% of income
  • 3 children = 29% of income
  • For each additional child, add 2% of income

If the parents share joint physical custody, the court will calculate child support for both parents based on the percentages above. Then, the court will subtract the lower amount from the higher amount, and the parent with the higher income pays the difference.

If you know yours and/or the other parent's hourly wage and number of hours worked per week, or their gross monthly income, you can use the following worksheets to estimate the amount of child support that a Nevada judge might order in your case:

  • Parents are expected to pay a minimum of $100/mo per child in child support even if the paying parent has no income. There is also a presumptive maximum amount of child support that can be ordered for higher earning parents.
  • There are state maximums that also come into play. View Guidelines


There are many other factors that can affect how much child support is paid.

Child support generally lasts until the child reaches 18, or 19 if the child is still enrolled in high school. Child support can be changed later if needed.

Health Insurance & Medical Expenses

The judge may order one parent (or both) to provide health insurance for the children. The cost of any insurance premiums may affect the total amount of child support paid.

Unreimbursed medical expenses (such as copays and costs not covered by insurance) are typically paid equally by both parents. One parent may be ordered to pay the medical expenses in some cases.

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