This is the next article in my series discussing Nevada law regarding the rights of grandparents and certain other individuals to seek visitation of a minor child. My last article discussed the importance of the discovery process, the primary mechanism for gathering evidence necessary in such cases. Given the significant burden of proof required in this type of case, I cannot overstress the importance of retaining an attorney with experience conducting discovery. In this article I will discuss what you should expect from trial in such a case. If you need assistance contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
I have previously addressed what a party can expect at a child custody hearing. Many of the same concepts will apply to a non-parent visitation trial. Like a child custody hearing, the trial will not involve a jury. A Clark County Family Court will preside over the bench trial. To begin, the grandparent or other individual requesting visitation will present their case. Next, the parent will present their case before the other party provides “rebuttal” evidence. Each side will make closing arguments, following which the Judge will deliberate and reach a decision. In some cases, the Judge will issue their decision immediately after trial. In others, a decision will not be issued until a later date. When the Judge rules will typically depend on the specific facts and circumstances of each case.
Nevada law creates a presumption in favor of the parent’s decision to deny visitation. This means that non-parents face a high burden of proof to persuade the Judge that visitation should be granted. The grandparent must provide evidence at trial to demonstrate that the requested visitation would be in the child’s best interest. A parent opposing such visitation would present evidence in support of their decision to deny access to the child. Such evidence may include past criminal records, any history of substance abuse, or other evidence indicating that the person is unfit to spend time with the child. This could also include evidence showing that the non-parent has attempted to undermine the parent’s relationship with the child. How the Judge will rule, however, will always depend on the specific facts of the case.
Trial is a complicated process, the rules of evidence will be enforced, and a Judge will often have little patience for someone who does not follow proper procedures. I cannot, therefore, overemphasize the importance of retaining a Las Vegas family lawyer with trial experience. Contact my office today to speak with an attorney.