Grandparent Rights in Nevada
Under Nevada statutes, a grandparent can ask a state court to address their concerns about a grandchild in limited circumstances. This article provides a summary of the applicable laws. On account of the complexity of the laws and the challenges inherent in legal proceedings involving grandparent rights, a concerned grandparent should talk with a knowledgeable family law attorney to evaluate their available options.
Grandparent Visitation Rights
If a grandparent is deprived of visitation with a grandchild, a specific law found at NRS 125C.050 may provide the grandparent with the ability to petition for visitation. The statute includes detailed requirements. The information that follows is a summary of the key provisions.
Criteria for a Grandparent Visitation Petition
The law provides in Section 1 that the district court in the child’s residence county may grant a grandparent a “reasonable right to visit a child during the child’s minority,” if the parent of an unmarried minor child: (1) is deceased; (2) Is divorced or separated from the parent who has custody; (3) Was never legally married to the other parent but cohabitated with them and is deceased or separated from the other parent; or (4) Relinquished their parental rights or had the rights terminated.
Under Section 3 of the law, the right to file a petition for visitation exists only if a parent denied or unreasonably restricted visits with the grandchild. If a parent voluntarily allows reasonable contact with the grandchild, relief is not available under these statutory provisions.
Rebuttable Presumption Regarding Parental Denial or Restriction of Visitation
If a grandparent files a petition for visitation after a parent denies or restricts visitation with a grandchild, the law establishes a rebuttable presumption that granting the right of visitation is not in the best interests of the child. In the proceeding, the grandparent must overcome the presumption with clear and convincing evidence that visitation is in the best interests of the child.
The law contains an extensive list of criteria for the court to consider in determining whether the evidence provided by the grandparent rebuts the presumption. The court also may consider any factors arising from the facts and circumstances of the case that the judge deems relevant to granting visitation against the parent’s wishes. The statutory factors include consideration of:
- The existing and previous relationship between the child and grandparent
- The grandparent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs, as well as healthcare and medical care
- The moral fitness and physical and mental health of the grandparent
- The grandparent’s willingness to facilitate and encourage a close relationship between the child and their parent(s) and other relatives
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the child has sufficient maturity to express a preference
- Support for the child provided by the grandparent, including financial support
As the statutory provisions make clear, the rebuttable presumption imposes a substantial evidentiary burden. If a grandparent wishes to file a petition under these provisions, it is essential to have legal representation and assistance in compiling and presenting the evidence. In any case, overcoming the presumption is a significant challenge.
The child’s parent can also present evidence in the case. Addressing that evidence in the proceeding requires assistance from knowledgeable legal counsel as well.
Additional Provisions Relating to Grandparent Visitation
In addition to granting visitation pursuant to a petition for visitation filed under the above provisions, Section 8 of NRS 125C.050 permits a court to grant visitation in a divorce decree, an order of separate maintenance (alimony), or a petition filed in limited situations specified in the section.
Regardless of the nature of the legal action in which a grandparent seeks visitation, the best interests of the child are always the court’s primary concern. Any legal proceeding to establish visitation rights involves a complex court process, application of complicated procedural rules, and presentation of evidence in court. Counsel and representation by an experienced family law attorney is essential.
Other Grandparent Concerns
In some family circumstances, a grandparent’s concerns may extend beyond visitation to issues involving custody or guardianship of the grandchild. Those legal issues are even more legally and factually complicated than grandparent visitation issues.
Custody or guardianship of a grandchild may arise if there are issues with a parent’s unfitness as a parent or as the result of involvement of Child Protective Services relating to the child’s welfare. Different laws apply to those situations. While a grandparent’s familial and biological relationship may be a relevant factor, the judge follows specific statutory rules that vary for each type of case. The child’s best interests are always the court’s paramount concern under Nevada law.
If you are a grandparent with concerns about visitation, custody, guardianship, or other matters relating to your grandchild, the best place to start is by talking with an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer helps you evaluate how Nevada laws apply to your family situation and determine what alternatives or options are available.
Regardless of the nature of the issues, it’s important to keep in mind that any legal action takes a toll on everyone involved, including the grandchild. Your attorney’s role includes helping you to understand the legal process, make informed choices, and maintain a perspective on the overall implications of pursuing a legal action.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Trusted Las Vegas Family Law Attorney
Las Vegas family law attorney Joseph Gersten assists clients with all types of domestic and family matters, including grandparent rights relating to visitation, custody, guardianship, and other concerns. Your initial consultation is always free-of-charge.
The Gersten Law Firm serves clients in Las Vegas, Henderson, and throughout Clark County. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.