This is the next post in my series addressing when Las Vegas, Nevada fathers may be able to modify child custody following a parental abduction. The last article explained what types of actions may constitute parental abduction. A refusal to return the child or pattern of non-compliance with a custody order may qualify. A court will consider modifying custody when the change is in the best interest of the child. I also discussed the importance of engaging an experienced fathers’ rights lawyer to assist in these matters. In this post I will explain the process by which a dad may request a change of custody following a parental abduction. If you need assistance with enforcing a custody order, call my office today to speak with an attorney.
If a parent blatantly refuses to return a child to his or her father pursuant to a custody order, the father may not know how to proceed. He may be forced to call the police to intervene and assist with collecting the child. In Las Vegas, the police will require a signed order from the court before getting involved. Retaining counsel with knowledge of this process may help you understand the necessary steps.
The first action that a father in this situation should take is to file a Motion for the Return of the Child with the court. This Motion will include an affidavit, or dad’s sworn statement, outlining the relevant facts about mom’s noncompliance with the custody order. Because this is often a time sensitive matter, a Motion to Return the Child will likely also include a request for a Pick-Up Order (authorizing police involvement) and Request for Shortened Time to expedite the hearing. The father may also decide to file a Motion for a Change of Custody as a result of the parental abduction. Once the expedited hearing request is signed by the judge, the offending parent will be given at least one judicial days’ notice of the hearing, which means the matter may be before the court within two or three days.
At the initial hearing, the court will evaluate whether the mother should be held in contempt for failing to comply with the custody order. In addition, the judge will start the process of evaluating whether to modify the custody arrangement. A father will need to demonstrate that the circumstances have changed since the existing order was issued and, as a result, that the current arrangement is no longer in the child’s best interest. Evidence supporting this claim will be submitted to the court as part of the initial court filings. Documentation demonstrating the non-complying parent’s refusal to return the child, showing a pattern of violating the order, a parent’s criminal activity, or changes in the child’s behavior or school performance could bolster the father’s request. It is important to note that the initial hearing is not a trial. It will only involve the attorneys representing the parties and the judge. Initial court decisions will be based upon the evidence supporting the various motions mentioned above.
There are three possible outcomes at the first hearing. A court may outright deny the custody change request, finding that the evidence presented did not justify the modification. The judge may order a temporary change in the current arrangement and schedule a trial at a future date to consider permanently modifying custody. Alternatively, the court may decide that no immediate change is necessary but schedule a future trial to more fully evaluate the request. Each case will be based on the specific facts of the situation. A father seeking an immediate change in custody must present compelling evidence to the court with his initial request.
One point I cannot stress enough is the importance of retaining a lawyer with experience in family law matters to represent your interests. Parental abduction issues can be frightening and having strong counsel can help you present your case in an effective way. If you are a Las Vegas father and need assistance, contact my office today to speak with an attorney.