blurred judge in courtroomThis is the fifth post in my series on how drug charges affect child custody in Las Vegas, Nevada. My last article addressed establishing a permanent change in custody after a parent is arrested for drugs. If a parent has been arrested for drug use, the Court will often modify the Court order to limit that parent’s visitation with the minor child. This article is addressing how a parent who has lost joint custody previously can seek to regain joint custody following an arrest. It is important to understand that the Court’s evaluation will prioritize the best interests of the child. If you or someone you know needs assistance, then contact my office today to have an initial consultation.

Las Vegas parents must show changed circumstances and that a change would be in the best interests of the child to modify a custody order

To modify a Court’s custody order in Nevada, the petitioner must show a substantial change in circumstances and that the modification would serve the child’s best interests. It is not enough to simply show that the parent is no longer incarcerated. If the child has continued under a primary custody arrangement for some time, it may be difficult to establish that the order should be modified. To do so, the non-custodial parent may also need to show that the current situation is not in the child’s interests. This may require evidence that the child is not happy or succeeding in school or is constantly sick or emotionally struggling.

For example, consider that a child was struggling in school and misbehaving while in the joint custody of both parents prior to his father’s drug arrest. The father’s arrest caused the Court to modify the order to afford primary custody to the mother and only supervised visitation with the father. The father gets out of jail and petitions the Court to modify the order back to joint custody. He is able to show that there are changed circumstances in that he is no longer incarcerated. However, the child is now thriving at school and in a positive home with a stable schedule and environment. The Court may not be inclined to modify the child’s routine based on the fact that the child is doing so well in the care of the mother. In other words, it would be difficult to show that a modification would be in the best interest of the child.

Modifying a custody order from primary custody to joint custody may take time

The Court prioritizes the child’s interests in its determination of modifying a custody order. One thing the Court will consider is the impact of the change on the child. It can be unsettling and difficult for children, especially young children, to change their home and their routines. Therefore, the Court will often require a graduated or structured period of time where the child and the non-custodial parent can adjust to the change. This time period will also show the Court that the child’s best interests are served by this modification. The Judge can also include requirements that the non-custodial parent obtain safer housing or submit to drug testing. Even once a parent shows they are drug free, the Court may require months or even years to pass before the parent can regain joint custody. A modification back to joint custody once lost takes time and perseverance, all while keeping the child’s best interests in mind.

The process of regaining joint custody is complex and requires a knowledge of the legal process. It is crucial to hire an attorney experienced with Nevada child custody disputes. An attorney will work with you to obtain evidence through discovery and present your case successfully before a Judge. I practice solely in the area of domestic law and am ready to assist you. My office seeks to provide affordable and effective legal representation. Contact my office today online or by phone to meet with counsel.