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New Custodial Laws for the Military

Posted by attorney Michele LoBello

The legislature has just enacted changes to NRS 125.510, a statute which governs modification of child custody orders. The amendments were designed to protect military service persons (both parents and legal guardians) deployed on active duty. Significant additions to the statute pertaining to the modification of child custody orders are clearly intended to ensure that a parent who serves the United States does not have his or her custodial order and/or relationship with a child negatively impacted by such service. These amendments protect our military service members in the following ways:

  1. No custody order can be modified by a final order until 90 days after the termination of the service member’s deployment.
  2. In the event the court temporarily modifies a child custody order as a result of a deployment of a parent, the court is now required to consider giving that parent visitation on any period of military leave.
  3. Deployment or the potential for future deployment cannot constitute a change of circumstances warranting a permanent modification of a custody order.
  4. An order temporarily modified due to deployment must specify that the deployment is the reason for the modification.
  5. The court, in issuing any temporary order, must consider issuing any additional orders to ensure the ability of the parent who has been deployed to maintain frequent and continuing contact with the child by means that are reasonably available.
  6. The court has broadened power to hold expedited hearings, either before deployment occurs or immediately upon deployment ending. Courts are also authorized to allow a parent who has been deployed to present testimony and evidence by affidavit or by electronic means.
  7. The court has greater power to delegate a service member’s visitation rights, or a portion of those rights, to a family member of the deployed parent who has a substantial relationship with the child, provided said delegation is in the best interest of the child.
  8. The non-military parent must provide the court and the deployed parent written notice of any change of address during the other parent’s deployment within 30 days of the change occurring.

While there are some other minor changes as a result of the passage of Assembly Bill 313, the foregoing are the most significant modifications of the statute. Probably the most significant change is the specific right of the court to delegate the visitation of a military service person to his or her family members. This has been an issue in Clark County Family Court for years and is a significant deviation from the prior statute. The legislature clearly desires to ensure that the child custody rights of service members are zealously protected.

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