This is the next post in a series of articles discussing parental abduction cases in Las Vegas, Nevada. My last article discussed the need to obtain a pick-up order when your child is being unlawfully withheld from you in violation of your custody order. It also addressed what to expect when one attends an initial hearing in a parental abduction case. The purpose of the hearing is to ensure that the child has been returned, to determine whether the offending parent should be held in contempt, and, in extreme cases, to review whether the violation justifies a change in the custody arrangement. In this article, I will discuss the process of requesting a custody modification after a parental abduction occurs. Dealing with such a situation can be stressful and contentious. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

When a parent refuses to abide by a current custody order, it can be frustrating and, at times, frightening for their co-parent. After experiencing serious non-compliance that requires Court involvement in order to enforce the order, many parents decide to seek a permanent change in their custody arrangement. Generally speaking, the Court will modify custody if a change of circumstances has occurred rendering the current arrangement no longer in the child’s best interest. This concept applies in the context of a change in custody after parental abduction. The first step in modifying your current arrangement is for the requesting parent to file a Motion to Change Custody. In non-emergency situations, a hearing will be scheduled and the responding parent will be notified of the date. Both parties will have the opportunity at the hearing to present evidence in support of their respective positions. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Judge may issue a temporary custody change, dismiss the request completely, or schedule a full trial to review the matter and make a permanent decision. If the child is in danger of imminent harm from the offending parent, the Court may schedule an expedited hearing and grant a temporary custody change pending a more formal proceeding.

Determining whether a modification is justified is, for obvious reasons, a multi-faceted analysis. In the context of parental abduction, the refusal to return the child in violation of the existing order may constitute the necessary change in circumstances. Particularly in cases in which the offending parent has been held in contempt for acting egregiously in their non-compliance. The party requesting the modification should be prepared to submit evidence that a new arrangement will be in the child’s best interest. This may include evaluations from therapists demonstrating that the child has been traumatized by the events or suffers anxiety related to the other parent’s failure to comply with the stated schedule. Other evidence may include text or phone records indicating that the offending parent has been intentionally interfering in the relationship between the child and their co-parent. When requesting a custody change, it is important to present as much relevant evidence as possible.

My office is dedicated to the practice of family law, including child custody modification requests. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today to speak with a Las Vegas attorney.