Filing the Custody / Paternity Papers
If you want to get the court's help with paternity, custody, visitation, and child support matters, you can file a paternity or a child custody case. There are certain forms you must fill out and file with the court to open a case. You can find instructions and all the forms you need to open a paternity or custody case in this section.
The information in this section only applies to unmarried parents. If you are married, child custody matters will be decided as part of a divorce, separation, or annulment. Please visit one of those sections to learn how to file the proper papers.
Make sure you understand the basic concepts before filling out your papers. Visit the Custody & Paternity Overview page for more information. You can also attend a custody/paternity class for FREE where you can learn the basics of custody, paternity, and child support law. Classes are available to anyone, regardless of income, and regardless of whether you have an attorney. Classes are offered in English and Spanish. Visit Free Classes for more information.
It is important to remember that usually, the children must have lived in Nevada for the past six months before a Nevada judge can issue any custody orders. There are some exceptions. If the children have not been in Nevada for six months, legal advice is strongly recommended before filing any paperwork. See Lawyers and Legal Help for more information on how to find a lawyer.
On this page, you can learn how to:
After you complete the steps on this page, a copy of the summons and complaint (and anything else you filed) must be hand-delivered to the other parent (the “Defendant”). The Court does not serve the papers for you. It is up to YOU to make sure the other parent gets served after you file for custody.
To open a case, you will need to file these four forms:
- Family Court Cover Sheet - REQUIRED
- Complaint for Custody or Paternity - REQUIRED
- Summons - REQUIRED
- Joint Preliminary Injunction - OPTIONAL
This form is REQUIRED. This form asks for basic information about you, the other parent, and the children. You are the Plaintiff and the other parent is the Defendant. If you have any other cases at family court that include the other parent and/or your children (for example, child support cases, TPOs, etc.), be sure to fill out the second page with as much information about those cases as you can. The Clerk of Court uses this information to open your case and to make sure all of your cases are assigned to the same judge.
Check the "child custody" box if you are primarily filing a custody case. Check the "paternity" box if you are primarily filing a paternity case. Do not check both.
This form is REQUIRED. The complaint tells the judge and the other parent what kind of orders you want. You are the Plaintiff and the other party is the Defendant.
The Self-Help Center has two different complaints depending on what you are trying to get help with.
Select ONLY ONE complaint to fill out depending on the main issue you need addressed. Do not fill out both forms.
Complaint for Custody. This complaint assumes that the father is known and there is no disagreement about paternity. It allows you to put together a proposal for what custody, visitation, and child support orders you want. You will check boxes and fill in blanks to tell the judge and the other parent things like:
- What kind of legal custody orders you would like;
- What kind of physical custody orders you would like;
- Your proposed visitation schedule;
- How much child support should be ordered; and
- Which parent should provide insurance for the children.
Be sure to fill out all of the sections. If you leave something blank, the judge will not know what you are asking for, and it may slow down your case.
Complaint for Paternity. If you mainly need the court to determine who is (or who is not) the father of a child, (such as by having a DNA test), if you need to change who is named as the father on the birth certificate, or if you need to do anything else about paternity, you can file this complaint. Any person who is named on the birth certificate or who claims to be a parent must be listed as a Defendant, so you may need to name multiple Defendants if there is more than one potential/named father.
You have the option to ask the court to make custody orders as well once paternity is settled. The judge usually must set child support once paternity is established, even if you don't ask for it.
If you file a Complaint for Paternity, you are encouraged to also file a motion to set a court hearing where the judge can hear from all parties to try and figure out paternity. You can file a Motion to Establish Paternity and/or for DNA Testing, and you can learn more about that process on the Temporary Orders page.
This form is REQUIRED. This form tells the other parent that you have filed for custody/paternity. The form also tells the other parent that he or she must file a response within 20 days, or a default may be entered against them.
You can request this injunction when you file your papers. The injunction prevents both you and the other party from doing the following while the case is going on:
- You cannot cancel or change the insurance plans.
- You cannot harass each other, the children, each other’s relatives, or family pets.
- You cannot relocate the children out of Nevada without written permission.
You will be legally prevented from doing all of the above things as soon as the Joint Preliminary Injunction is issued by the Clerk. The other party will be legally prevented from doing these as soon as he or she is served with the papers.
If you would like this injunction issued, you must file a written request asking the Clerk of Court to issue one. Fill out the request below, and the Clerk will issue a detailed injunction when you file.
After you fill out the papers above, you will need to file them with the family court to open up a case. The fee is $259 to file a Complaint for Custody, and $270 to file a Complaint for Paternity. The fee is payable by cash, money order, or most major credit/debit cards. If you cannot afford the fee, please see Filing Fees and Waivers to find out how to ask the court to waive the fee.
The Summons is not filed right away – instead the Clerk “issues” the Summons by stamping and dating it. You will receive the original back, and you must make a copy to serve on the Defendant. After Defendant is served, you must have the original Summons filed along with your proof that Defendant was served.
You can file your papers one of three ways:
In Person: Bring your filing fee and the forms to the Family Courts and Services Center. You will be able to file your papers in person at the Clerk’s Office. The Clerk’s Office is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m, but you must arrive by 3:40 p.m. to see a Clerk before closing. Be sure to arrive before then.
By Mail: If you cannot come to the court during business hours, you can mail your forms and the filing fee to:
Family Courts and Services Center
Attn: Clerk of Court
601 North Pecos Road
Las Vegas, NV 89101
- Online: Many documents can be filed online through the court's e-filing system, eFileNV (although some documents must be filed in person). There is a fee of $3.50 to upload your documents, in addition to the regular filing fee. You must register for an account, you must provide a valid email address, and you must be able to scan and upload your documents.
If you efile your documents, you will be agreeing to be served with future legal documents electronically. Be sure to use an email address that you will check regularly so that you do not miss important legal documents filed in your case. If your email addresses changes, you must update that information in your efile account. If you would rather receive future legal documents through the U.S. Mail, file your documents in person or by mail.
Next Step: Serve the Defendant
After you complete the steps on this page, a copy of the summons and complaint (and anything else you filed) must be hand-delivered to the other parent (the “Defendant”). The Court does not serve the papers for you. It is up to YOU to make sure the other parent gets served after you file for custody. After you have completed the steps on this page, learn all about how to have the other parent served by visiting the Serving the Custody Papers page.