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October 8, 2020

How Does a Domestic Violence Charge in Nevada Affect Child Custody

Parents arguing in court in front of a bronze statue of Themis

You’ve been accused of domestic violence, but you want to retain custody of your child. In Nevada, a domestic violence charge can make it difficult to get custody of your children. However, you can improve your situation when working with a criminal defense attorney.

Do you need a domestic violence lawyer in Henderson, Nevada?
Contact Marchiano Law today.

How is Custody Awarded in Nevada?

Nevada has two forms of child custody: physical and legal. Physical custody enables a parent to live with the child. Legal custody allows a parent to make decisions that affect the child’s life. In many cases, both parents will be awarded some degree of legal custody. For physical custody, the court will grant full custody to one parent or joint custody between the parents. 

The court decides which parent will have physical custody and the type of legal custody that is best for the child. The factors that the court will consider include:

  • The wishes of the child (depending on the child’s age)
  • Which parent is open to granting visitation rights
  • The level of conflict between the parents
  • The assignment of a guardian by a parent
  • The physical and mental health of the parents
  • The level of cooperation between the parents 
  • The physical and emotional state of the child
  • The relationship each parent has with the child
  • The presence of neglect or abuse to the child or child’s sibling
  • Whether domestic violence or abduction has been committed by either parent

What Happens if a Parent is Accused of Domestic Violence During a Custody Case?

For the safety and well-being of the child, the court will determine if the parent seeking physical custody of the child has a history of domestic violence. If there is an allegation of abuse, the court will hold a hearing with evidence to determine whether the domestic abuse allegations are valid. If the evidence from the initial hearing is strong enough for a case, the judge will conclude there is “clear and convincing evidence.” 

This signifies that the allegations are likely to be true, but doesn’t convict anyone of a crime. The person facing the domestic violence allegations can present evidence against the presumption and assert that having custody of the child would be for the child’s best interest. 

The court will look at the evidence on both sides of the allegation and the judge will make a decision. The judge must provide evidence and findings that support the custody and visitation decision, which must protect the child, parent, or other domestic violence victims. 

What Evidence Will a Court Consider for Domestic Violence Accusations?

In Nevada, it is presumed that joint custody is not a safe option for the child when there are domestic violence accusations. The court may rule abuse occurred without a conviction and base the decision solely on testimonies. 

Below are the four types of evidence the court uses: 

  • Prior convictions
  • Police reports from past violent offenses 
  • Witnesses
  • Testimonies

A criminal attorney will be able to obtain the best evidence to refute your abuse accusation and produce evidence that aligns with court rules. 

What Happens if Both Parents Are Accused of Domestic Violence?

Though the court will give custody to the parent who hasn’t engaged in domestic violence, there are instances where both parents are accused of domestic abuse. In this case, the court will give child custody to the parent who is least likely to commit future acts of violence and who didn’t initiate the violence. 

The court will consider these factors if both parents are accused of domestic violence:  

  • The likelihood of future harm, violence, or injury
  • The extent of the child’s or partner’s injuries
  • All prior instances of domestic violence committed by both parents
  • Whether the violence was done in self-defense

In these circumstances, the judge will try to determine which parent is the primary physical aggressor and grant custody to the other parent. In cases where custody with neither parent would be in the child’s best interest, the child will be turned over to Nevada Social Services. 

Contact a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in Henderson, Nevada

Being charged with domestic violence can hurt your chances of obtaining custody of your child. Nevada law requires a court procedure whereby either parent can prevail with strong enough facts and evidence. Having the counsel of an experienced Nevada criminal defense attorney who specializes in child custody and domestic violence cases will give you the best chance of rebutting your domestic abuse allegation and retaining custody of your child. If you’re accused of domestic abuse and are in a child custody dispute, contact Marchiano Law and we will help you unite with your child.