If you have children under the age of 18 with your current spouse, and the children reside in Nevada with you, they must have resided in the state for a minimum of six months before Nevada District Court Family Division will take jurisdiction over them, in the event of a divorce.

There is some confusion over this because you, as a party to the divorce, are considered a Nevada resident after living here consistently for six weeks and you can file a divorce at that point. You can’t address issues of child custody, visitation, or child support. At the six-month mark, Nevada is considered the “home state” of the children and the Court will pass rulings on physical custody, visitation, and child support.

What prevents the court from taking jurisdiction over the children until they have lived here for six months is the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA). This came into effect in 1968 and by 1981, it had been adopted by every state in the U.S.  This law was designed to discourage parents from taking their children to another state without the permission of the other parent, as was happening on a frequent basis in divorce situation, creating confusion, not only for the children, but for the courts who had to make rulings on the residency of the children involved.

As you can read here, the UCCJA operates upon novel principles that:

     1) establish jurisdiction over a child custody case in one state; and,

     2) protect the order of that state from modification in any other state, so long as the original state retains jurisdiction over the case.  

If a non-custodial parent cannot take a child to another state and petition the court of that state for a favorable modification of an existing custody order, the incentive to run with the child is greatly diminished. There are exceptions, however.

Did you move to Nevada with your minor children less than six months ago and are now divorcing? Is the safety of a child at stake because of bad behavior on their other parent’s part? If so, Family Court here can make an exemption to the six-month residency rule in a Nevada divorce and the residency of minor child.

If you are able to show an emergency as defined by Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, a Nevada judge could make a ruling over your child(ren) who have resided in Nevada for less than the required six months.  This could be either a temporary, or permanent ruling.

Understand that such cases can become complicated. In order to protect your children’s rights and your own rights, you should retain a highly-experienced family law attorney well-versed in divorce and child custody law.