File a Motion to Go Back to Court
Parents may need to come back to court after a custody case finishes if one or both parties will not obey the terms of the decree. If either parent is violating the decree and the two of you cannot agree on how to resolve the issues, either one of you can file a motion to ask the judge to enforce the orders. This page will give you more information on how to enforce your order and the process to get your case back in front of the judge.
When the other party will not obey a court order, there are different options available to get the other person to comply with the order. Your options depend on what kind of order the other person is violating. Some common issues and ways to address them are discussed below.
- Refusal to Pay Child Support. There are two different ways you can get a parent to follow a child support order.
- Contact the District Attorney Family Support Division ("DAFS") for assistance. DAFS can garnish the other parent's wages, intercept tax refunds, etc., to secure payment. Please visit District Attorney Family Support for more information.
- File a Motion to Enforce and/or for an Order to Show Cause. This kind of motion asks the judge to hold the other parent in contempt of court for not following the court order. The judge can punish the other parent with sanctions, fines, and/or jail. You can also ask the judge to award you any child support arrears that are owed to you.
- Refusal to Obey Custody and Visitation Orders. There are different options available depending on the kind of visitation issue:
- To Enforce Custody and Visitation: When you simply want the other parent to obey the custody and visitation order, you can file a Motion to Enforce Custody and Visitation. The judge will have you both appear in court to find out why the visitation schedule is not being followed, and may award make-up time for any time with the children that was missed.
- To Hold The Other Parent In Contempt: When you want the judge to punish the other parent for not obeying the visitation order, you can file a Motion to Enforce and/or for an Order to Show Cause. This kind of motion asks the judge to hold the other parent in contempt for not following the order. The judge can punish the parent with sanctions, fines, and/or jail.
- To Have the Child Immediately Returned to You: When there is an emergency and you want the child returned to you immediately, you can ask the court to give you a "Pickup Order" that awards you temporary sole custody. This is usually the kind of order law enforcement requires before they will get involved in enforcing visitation orders. You can also contact the Nevada State Advocate for Missing and Exploited Children for possible assistance in having the child returned to you. Visit Missing Children for more information.
- Anything Else. If there are other parts of the decree that the other party is not following, you can file a Motion to Enforce and/or for an Order to Show Cause asking the judge to hold the other party in contempt. The judge can punish the other person with sanctions, fines, and/or jail.
If you have a custody order from another state that the other party will not obey, and the child is in Nevada, there is a different process to get the child back. Please visit Enforcing Out-of-State Orders for more information on that process.
Before you file a motion, the court rules require you to try and solve the issue privately with the other party first. If you do not, you will have to explain in your motion why you did not try to resolve this outside of court. If the judge thinks you could have resolved this without filing a motion, you could be sanctioned!
Once you have decided what method to use to have the judge address the violations of the decree, follow the steps and instructions below.
Anything that you file must be served on the other party. It is up to YOU to make sure the other party is properly served with the documents you file; the court does not serve the papers for you. Be sure to carefully follow the instructions on how to serve the other party. If you do not, your hearing may be cancelled! You can find answers to common questions about service on the Frequently Asked Questions: Service page.
This kind of motion asks the judge to enforce the order and to hold the other party in contempt for not following the court’s order. You can also ask the judge to award you any unpaid money, including child support or spousal support.
The judge typically cannot hold someone in contempt unless the person's behavior is violating a written order that was signed by the judge, filed with the court, and served on the other party. You will have to prove to the judge that the other party is aware of the order and is disobeying the order.
To get your case on the judge’s calendar, fill out all of the documents in the following packet and follow all of the included instructions:
If you want to file exhibits to support your motion or opposition, download and complete the Exhibit Appendix (pdf). Each exhibit must be identified in the table of contents, and every exhibit must be separated by a blank page that says "Exhibit __" with the number of the exhibit inserted.
You must file all of your documents with the court. You will get a court date when you file this motion. For information on how to file your documents, please visit Basics of Court Filings.
Here are a few important things to remember when filing this kind of motion:
- You must be very specific about how the other party is violating the court order. Contempt is a very serious matter, and you will have to give detailed reasons and examples of how the other party has violated the order.
- File a Schedule of Arrears if the other party owes you unpaid child support or alimony. You will have to list every single payment that was due (usually by month), what was paid, and what is still owed. This lets the judge know how much is past due. Download the following packet and follow all of the included instructions if you want to the judge to award you back payments.
If the judge awards you the arrears, it will still be up to you to collect the amounts due. Please see the Civil Law Self-Help Center for information on how to collect a judgment later.
- You must serve the other party after filing your papers. The court will set a hearing when you file your papers, but the court does not notify the other party about the court date. You are expected to have the other person properly served with a copy of all of your papers within 3 calendar days of filing your motion. If you do not serve the other party, your hearing may be cancelled.
- The Order to Show Cause might be signed by the judge before or after the hearing. The Order to Show Cause sets a contempt hearing where the other party must defend themselves against your allegations. The judge might want to sign this form after reading your motion, or might want to wait until your court hearing to decide whether to sign the order. After you file your motion, submit the order to the judge and follow any instructions the judge’s staff gives you.
- If the judge signs the Order to Show Cause, have it properly served. Some judges will allow you to mail it, and some judges want a neutral person to hand-deliver the order to the other party. Find out from the judge’s staff how the judge wants the order served, and be sure to have the order served based on your judge’s requirements.
This kind of motion deals with custody and visitation issues only. The judge will have you both appear in court to find out why the custody and visitation schedule are not being followed, and may hold the other party in contemt and/or award make-up time for any time with the children that was missed.
Fill Out & File The Papers
To get your case on the judge's calendar, you must fill out both of the following documents and file them with the court:
You must file all of your documents with the court. For information on how to file your documents, please visit Basics of Court Filings.
You will get a court date when you file this motion. If you would like the judge to hear your case quickly because you want custody or visitation enforced immediately, you can apply for an emergency hearing. It will be up to the judge to decide whether the situation requires a hearing to be held quicker than the date originally given to you by the Clerk. Fill out the forms below, and bring (or mail) them to the courthouse. If bringing it in person, drop the order off in your judge's drop box on the 3rd floor of the family courthouse. The judge's staff will let you know by mail or by phone if your request is approved or denied.
Serve the Other Party
Your next step is to serve the other party (by regular mail or through the court's e-filing system) with a copy of the documents you filed so the other person knows what you are asking, when the judge will hear the matter, and that a response should be filed. It is up to YOU to make sure the other party is served; the court does not serve them for you! Be sure to serve the court-filed forms that include the filing date and the hearing date!
- First, you must serve a copy of your motion and any other documents within 3 calendar days of filing the motion. You can serve by regular mail or through the court's e-filing system if the other party is registered. Complete a Certificate of Service after serving the documents so the judge knows when, how, and where the documents were served. If you are serving by mail but do not know where the other parent lives, check with the court to find out what address the court has for the person. You are expected to mail the documents to any address the court has listed for the person, plus any other addresses where you think the person is living. File the Certificate of Service with the court.
- Second, if the judge grants your Order Shortening Time, someone else will have to personally serve the other parent with a copy of the Order Shortening Time after the judge signs it. Whoever serves the other parent must complete an Affidavit of Service that states when, where, and what documents were served. You must file the Affidavit of Service with the court before your hearing.
Affidavit of Service (pdf) Affidavit of Service (pdf fillable)
When there is an emergency and you want the child returned to you immediately, you can ask the court to give you an "Ex Parte Pickup Order" that awards you temporary sole custody and gives you the ability to pick up the child. "Ex parte" means you are asking the judge for an order without having a hearing first. If granted, the judge will give you an order for custody that you can enforce without needing to appear in court. This is usually the kind of order law enforcement requires before they will get involved in enforcing visitation orders. You can also contact the Nevada State Advocate for Missing and Exploited Children for possible assistance in having the child returned to you. Visit Missing Children for more information.
This kind of action is reserved for true emergencies. If there is not an emergency, judges typically prefer that you file a Motion to Enforce Custody and Visitation and appear at a hearing first.
FYI!An Ex Parte Motion for a Pickup Order should only be used if you already have a custody order from a Nevada court. If you have a custody order from another state that you need to enforce, please visit Enforcing Out-of-State Orders for information on how to get a Nevada court to assist in enforcing your order.
To ask the judge for a pickup order, complete the following two documents:
Bring (or mail) both documents to the family courthouse. The Ex Parte Motion for Return of Child(ren) must be filed with the Clerk of Court either in person or online. For information on how to file your documents, please visit Basics of Court Forms and Filings.
Next, submit the Order for Return of Child(ren) to the judge. Bring (or mail) the Order for Return of Child(ren) to the courthouse. If bringing it in person, drop the order off in your judge's drop box on the 3rd floor of the family courthouse.
The judge will review your documents. The judge's staff will let you know either by mail or by phone whether your order is approved or denied. If the order is approved, you can contact law enforcement for assistance in retrieving the child. If the order is denied, you may need to file a Motion to Enforce Visitation or Custody so the judge can hear from both parents in court before deciding what to order.
At the hearing, the judge will tell you his or her decision on the issues, but those orders are not enforceable until they are written into an official order form and signed by the judge. The judge will usually pick one party to “prepare the order.” It is that person’s responsibility to prepare the written order from the hearing, submit it to the judge for review, and send a copy to the other party. The instructions and forms needed to do this are below.