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What court has jurisdiction over child custody?

Nevada parents may be interested in some of the factors that determine which court has jurisdiction in a child custody case. In some emergency situations, the usual rules may not apply.

The question of jurisdiction can have different answers depending on the location of the parties and what stage of the child custody process the parents are in. When the parents are seeking an initial custody determination, a Nevada court only has jurisdiction under certain circumstances. These include when Nevada is the child’s home state at the time that the custody proceeding begins or at some point during the six months before, when one or both parents are still in Nevada. If another state’s court has denied jurisdiction, a Nevada court may be appropriate if it is determined that either the child or one of the parents has a significant connection to the state.

If the parents are seeking a modification of an existing child custody agreement that was issued out of state, a Nevada court cannot usually rule on that issue. However, if the other state’s court determines that its jurisdiction is not exclusive or Nevada is a more convenient place to hear the case, the local court may hear the issue. In emergency cases, such as when a child has been abandoned or is subject to potential abuse or mistreatment, Nevada courts may hear a custody issue. This is true even when the state would not normally have jurisdiction.

The child custody process can be an emotional and stressful time for a parent. A family law attorney can provide assistance with issues surrounding custody, including negotiating for visitation rights or filing a petition for a modification of a custody order when necessary.

Source: Nevada State Legislature, “Applicability and Procedure“, December 30, 2014

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