judge pounding gavelThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing parental abduction cases in Las Vegas, Nevada. My previous post addressed how a parent requesting a custody modification after parental abduction can prove to the Court that such a change is warranted. The Judge will base their decision on objective evidence presented during the proceeding. Presenting anecdotal or unsubstantiated claims will not suffice. Parents should be prepared to present evidence in the form of documents, medical reports, police reports, phone or text messages, or other objective information to support their position. In this article, I will explain what a parent can expect during a child custody modification trial. With so much at stake, I can not overemphasize the importance of retaining an experienced family lawyer to represent your legal interests. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with an attorney.

As discussed previously in this series, requesting a change of custody after a parental abduction has occurred is a multi-step process. In extreme cases, a parent may first be required to obtain a pick-up order from the Clark County Family Court, which grants law enforcement the authority to retrieve the child from the non-compliant parent. Following that process, should a parent decide to request a custody modification, their attorney will file a motion to modify the existing custody order. The Court will then schedule an initial hearing, at which the requesting parent’s attorney will briefly explain why a change in the arrangement is necessary. Depending upon the circumstances, this hearing may be scheduled on an expedited basis. If the Judge determines that there are sufficient grounds to consider the request, they will schedule a more formal trial to evaluate the situation. In emergency cases or those of extreme non-compliance, the Judge may temporarily change the custody arrangement pending the outcome of the trial.

Once scheduled, the attorneys for both parents will begin gathering evidence to support or challenge the claim that changing child custody is in the child’s best interest. Using the discovery process, the lawyers may collect testimony from witnesses through depositions, request documentary evidence from third parties, or subpoena information such as phone records, financial data, or camera footage to use at the trial. It is imperative to present as much evidence as possible so that the Court’s determination is based on all relevant information. Family Court trials are bench trials, meaning the entire matter is heard and ultimately decided by the Judge and does not involve a jury. Once the trial begins, both sides will be given the opportunity to present their cases to the Judge. The Judge may ask both parties and their attorneys various questions. Unlike criminal trials or large commercial disputes, trials in Family Court are relatively quick. After each side concludes and the Judge’s questions have been answered, they will issue their decision. This often happens at the conclusion of the proceeding or within a few days if they need more time to consider their verdict.

Modifications to custody orders can be difficult to obtain depending on the specific facts of the case. Working with an experienced family attorney can help ensure that your case receives the attention it deserves and that your position is clearly communicated to the Court. If you need assistance, contact my office as soon as possible to speak with a Las Vegas lawyer.