When parents divorce or separate, one of the key issues is always how they will share the responsibility of caring for their children.
In an ideal world, where parents are thinking in terms of their children’s best interest, they would be able to easily agree on a custody arrangement by which they provide a stable environment for their children and where there would be in frequent contact with both parents.
In reality, however, this often turns into a huge time-consuming, money draining battle involving lawyers, mediators, and child custody experts –– all resulting in a court-ordered arrangement that neither side is completely happy with.
Read further to learn how the court decides child custody and who is most likely to retain custody after a Nevada Divorce.
There are two general types of child custody arrangements that a parent can legally enjoy:
Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody
While a parent enjoys physical custody if the child physically resides with the parent, a parent may also enjoy legal custody if he or she has the legal authority to make decisions regarding how the child is raised and cared for.
Usually, when one parent is granted physical custody of a child, the other is granted visitation rights, with legal custody being shared jointly between the two.
Sole Custody vs. Joint Custody
In some cases, legal physical custody of the child may be awarded to one parent only. However, it is widely believed that it is in a child’s best interest to have the involvement of both parents in his or her upbringing, both physically and legally. It is therefore common for the court to award the parents joint custody of their children.
Joint custody may be awarded in the following ways:
In Nevada, the judge has the final say on how custody will be allocated. However, the parents may come to their own agreement on custody and submit it to the court for the judge’s approval.
If the judge finds the agreement to be fair and reasonable, he or she will most likely issue a custody order reflecting the agreed upon arrangements.
When the parents cannot come to a fair and reasonable agreement on their own, the judge will determine how custody will be allocated.
In doing so, the judge will consider a number of different factors, such as each parent’s health, age, individual income, lifestyle and relationship with the children, as well as the sex, health, and ages of the children and the wishes of all parties involved.
If after all factors are taken into account, neither parent stands out as a better candidate for custody than the other, the parent whom the judge feels will provide the children with the most stable environment will typically receive physical custody.
In the past, it was very common for courts to automatically award custody of children five years of age and younger to their mothers.
Today, this rule has widely been rejected or is used only as a tiebreaker whenever two equally fit parents both request custody of their young children.
Now, courts determine custody solely on what is in the best interest of the child, with no regard to the sex of the parent. Still, mothers are far more likely to be granted physical custody of their children than fathers.
Moreover, even without the court order, most divorcing parents with young children agree that the mother should have sole or primary physical custody, with the father spending time with the children according to a reasonable schedule, generally increasing as the child gets older.