Christopher Tilman | The Lawyer For Your Family's Life Challenges.

Divorce & Family Law Articles

Since 1993, the Law Office of Christopher R. Tilman, Attorney at Law, has been committed to providing effective, quality Family Law representation for residents living in Las Vegas and communities throughout Nevada. 

Obtaining Custody in Nevada

By Christopher R. Tilman, Esq.  

There are two instances in which a parent can obtain legal and physical custody in Nevada.  First, if the parents are unmarried, and second, if the parents are married.  Before we look at these instances we must define “legal” and “Physical” custody.  First, legal custody is best described as a designation that defines a parent’s rights as it applies to third persons.  Meaning that a parent with legal custody can authorize medical procedures, get medical and school records for and about the child and the parent will be involved in major decisions regarding the child.  Most parents get joint legal custody with the other parent, unless there is a serious problem regarding parenting or history.  Physical custody only means that parent has 51% or more of the time with the child and gets the award of child support.  

If the parents are unmarried, one must look to Nevada Revised Statues 126.031 which mandates that a mother of a child has primary custody of a child if there is n court order regarding custody and she is not married to the father of the child.  Conversely, the father has custody if the mother has abandoned the child in the father’s care and the father has provided sole care and custody of the child in her absence.  Naturally, the issues of whether the mother or father has primary custody may be challenged in court and that court will make a finding as to whom should have primary custody.       

It is dangerous to have a child out of wedlock and have no court order because should a dispute arise over visitation, custody, or any other issue in a child’s life then the authorities have nothing to enforce.  The result frequently is that the authorities take the child into custody and tell the parents to get a court order defining the disputed issues.  The child may remain in the care of the State until the order is obtained.  Married or not, if the parents are in court litigating the issue as to who has primary custody, Nevada Revised Statutes 125.480 comes into play.  This law mandates that regardless of the sex of the parent, the sole consideration is the best interest of the child and if it appears that joint custody is in the best interest of the child then the court may grant joint custody is in the best interest of the child then the court may grant joint custody of the child (this means that parents will split time with the child equally).  It is interesting to note that in Nevada no preference may be given to either mothers or fathers when awarding custody.  

Courts usually ratify what the parties have been doing as matter of course, that is, what the parties have decided together (without court order) is best for the child.  Meaning you had better have a good reason for requesting custody if you left the child with the other parent some time ago.      

Nevada Baby Magazine 1999 .

Obtaining Child Support in Nevada

By Christopher R. Tilman, Esq.  

In Nevada there are two ways to get an order for child support.  The first way is to open a file with the District Attorney’s Family Support Division.  Any person who has a child in his or her custody for more than thirty days without the presence of a parent may open a file.  It is interesting to note that you need not be divorced for a file to be opened, merely separated for the requisite thirty day period.  Likewise, you need not have an order for custody if the child was born our of wedlock, merely just the absence of the obligated parent.  The District Attorney obtains orders in front of Special Hearing Masters in UIFSA court.  This is a court of limited jurisdiction in that they only can adjudicate issues of paternity and child support not custody or visitation.  Also, it can take a number of months to obtain an order in this court because of an excessive case load.  

The second way to get an order for support starts with a complaint for divorce or, if the parents are not married, a complaint to establish paternity.  Most attorneys prefer to file a motion for child support and related relief which gets the litigant a court date in the neat future.  In Clark County, a court date is usually scheduled within three to five weeks, depending on the judge.  Keep in mind that these cases are filed in District Court, Family Court Division, which have jurisdiction over all issues including child custody, visitation and child support.  

The amount of child support a non-custodial parent must pay is governed by Nevada Revised Statutes 125.070 and 125B.080.  For one child the amount is 18% of the payers gross monthly income (that is the before tax amount).  For two children the amount is 25%, for three children it rises to 29% and the amount increases by 2% for every child thereafter.  The child support amount is capped by the statue at $500.00 per child.  The payer does get certain deductions from or additions to his child support amount.  These include, but are not limited to, the timeshare with the child, the age of the child, the responsibility of the parents for the support of others, the relative income of the parents, and the costs of transportation to see the children.      

Nevada Baby Magazine 1999

Becoming a Legal Guardian

By Christopher R. Tilman, Esq.  

Guardianships are generally commenced for legal purposes, as they allow a person to handle legal and financial affairs for another person who is mentally or physically unable to do so.  This person is called the “ward” and may be either an adult or a minor child.  Often, a guardianship is executed for the purpose of obtaining health insurance, especially in the case of a guardianship of a child.  A guardianship permits the guardian to manage personal, financial, custodial and other affairs of the ward.   

In the State of Nevada, there are two types of guardianships: that of the person and that of  the estate.  A guardianship of the person is only available if the ward owns no property and receives no income.  If the ward does own property or receives income, the guardianship must be requested for the person and estate, and an annual accounting of the property and income must be filed with the court.  

The process for obtaining a guardianship may be quite uncomplicated, provided there are no objections from other family members.  First, a Petition must be filed, which includes the name, age and relationship to the ward of the proposed guardians, and a statement that the proposed guardians are financially able to care for the minor child.  A list of the ward’s family members, within two degrees of relationship, and their last known addresses, must be provided.  A guardianship of a minor may proceed without hearing if a consent is signed by both parents.  If this is not possible, a hearing must be scheduled.  The hearing is set by way of a Citation to Appear and Show Cause which is signed by the judge.  The family members must then be notified of the hearing by way of certified mail, return receipt requested.  At the time of the hearing, the judge will hear any objections and make a determination which appears to be in the best interests of the ward.  Guardianships may be terminated if the ward becomes able to manage their own lives.        

Nevada Baby Magazine 1999

Adopting a Child in Nevada 

By Christopher R. Tilman, Esq.

Adoption can be one of the most rewarding life experiences, not only for the adopting parents, but for the adopted child as well.  However, the legal process associated with adoption can be somewhat confusing to the new parents-to-be.  The first thing to know is that in Nevada, there are two basic types of adoptions: relative or step-parent adoptions and non-relative adoptions.  

In both types, the first step required is to terminate the parental rights of the natural parents.  A termination is necessary to ensure that the natural parents cannot maintain a claim to custody or visitation after the adoption is completed.  Of course, in a step-parent adoption, it would be necessary to terminate the parental rights of the missing parent.  A termination of parental tights can be accomplished through a voluntary consent, signed by the parent relinquishing his/her parental rights. If the parent cannot be located or is unwilling to sign a consent, a petition can be filed requesting that the Court order termination.  

Once this is completed, a petition for adoption can be filed.  The petition must contain several facts, including the names and ages of the parties requesting the adoption, the name and birth date of the child being adopted, and that the parties have lived together, with the child, in Nevada for a period of at least six months prior to the petition.  The court also requires that the adopting parents be financially able to support the child, that they have never been convicted of a felony, and that there has been full compliance with the laws of the State of Nevada relative to adoptions.  

If the adoption is a non-relative, an additional step is required.  Often, a non-relative adoption is sought by foster parents who wish to adopt their foster child.  In such a case, or if the adopting parents are outside the second degree of consequently (kinship or family relationship), a welfare investigation is required.  The welfare investigation consists of a background check and a home study to determine if the adopting parents are able to properly care for a child.  In a relative or step-parent adoption, a request for waiver of this investigation may be made by the adopting parents.  

Lastly, a hearing must be held, at which the adopting parents and the child must be present.  All adoptions are scheduled together, and the experience is generally positive for all involved.    

Nevada Baby Magazine 1999

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Law Office of Christopher R. Tilman
Attorney at Law
1211 South Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89104
(702) 214-4214

Christopher R. Tilman, Attorney At Law
The Lawyer For Your Family's Life Challenges.