Responding to the Custody / Paternity Papers

If you have been served with a summons and complaint for custody or paternity, there are things you must do to participate in the case. If you do nothing, the other parent may be able to get a final order without you. Visit this section to find out important information you should know, deadlines you must follow, and forms you must file once you have been served.

FYI!

This page explains what to do if you have been served with the very first papers to start a custody or paternity case (a "complaint" and "summons"). If you were served with a motion from the other person, there are different papers you can use to respond to the motion. If you received a motion asking for "temporary" orders (because there is no final order yet), please visit Opposing a Motion for Temporary Orders. If you received a motion to change or enforce existing orders, please see Changing the Order or Enforcing the Order for more information about how to oppose those motions. 

Being served with initial custody or paternity papers can be scary and stressful. Your emotions might make it hard to figure out what to do. It can be tempting to do absolutely nothing because you are too overwhelmed to deal with it. Or you might think if you do nothing, the other parent will not be able to move forward with the case.

Ignoring the papers will not make the case go away. In fact, once you are served with a summons and complaint, you only have 20 calendar days to file your own papers in response. If you do not, the court could enter a default against you, and the other parent may be able to get everything they asked for in their complaint. This page will explain the steps you need to take to respond to a complaint for custody or paternity.

  1. Read the Complaint
  2. Know Your Deadline to Respond
  3. Fill Out Papers to File
  4. File the Paperwork
  5. Serve the Plaintiff

TIP!

Make sure you understand the basic custody concepts so you can decide what to do. Visit the Custody Overview page for more information. You can also attend a custody 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.

1. Read the Complaint

You first need to figure out what the other parent is asking for out of the case. Read the Complaint. Don’t worry, the judge has not ordered anything yet – the complaint just tells you what the other parent is asking for as part of the case. You may agree with some, all, or none of the complaint. Write down next to each paragraph in the complaint whether you agree or disagree with what that paragraph says.

If you agree with everything the other parent is asking for, you may not need to file anything. Talk to the other parent about signing a joint Decree of Custody or Paternity. Or, you can do nothing and the other parent will get a default order that includes everything requested in their complaint. But if you disagree with anything the other parent is asking for, you will need to file a response. 

FYI!

If you are an active military service member, you may be able to ask the court to “stay” the proceedings if your military service prevents you from being able to participate in the case. See the Information For Active Military Members to learn more about this.

CAUTION!

If you are unsure what to do, it is always best to talk to a lawyer. Visit Lawyers and Legal Help for information on lawyers and free / low-cost legal help.

2. Deadlines to File

You only have 20 calendar days after being served to file your papers. If you were served more than 20 days ago, or if you are not going to be able to file a response within 20 days, you can fill out the following paperwork to ask the judge to extend the time to let you file:

Declaration and Order To Extend the Time to Answer (pdf)

Declaration and Order To Extend the Time to Answer (pdf fillable)

 

FYI!

If a default has already been entered against you, you can file papers asking the judge to “set aside” the default, which means you want the judge to hear your side of the story before making a final order. See Setting Aside a Default or Order for information about this.

 

3. Fill Out Papers to Respond to the Case

To respond to the case, you will need to file 2 or 3 of these forms:

Answer (and Maybe a Counterclaim)

Complete ONLY ONE of the forms below - pick the one that best fits your situation.  You can file just an answer or you can include a counterclaim if you wish.

File an Answer only.  An "Answer" tells the judge and the other parent what parts of the complaint you agree with and disagree with. For instance, you might agree with paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 of the complaint, but disagree with paragraphs 4, 5, 6. Write that in the Answer. This lets the judge and the other parent know what issues will need to be dealt with.

Answer to Custody/Paternity Complaint (pdf)

Answer to Custody/Paternity Complaint (pdf fillable)

File an Answer with a Counterclaim. The "Answer" (described above) tells the judge and the other parent what you agree and disagree with from the complaint.  You can also include a "Counterclaim" where you can tell them specifically what you want the judge to order (like the Plaintiff did).

If the other party filed a "Complaint for Custody," you can respond with an "Answer and Counterclaim for Custody."

Answer & Counterclaim for Custody (pdf) 
 
Answer & Counterclaim for Custody (pdf fillable)

If the other party filed a "Complaint for Paternity," you can respond with an "Answer and Counterclaim for Paternity."

Answer & Counterclaim for Paternity (pdf) 
 
Answer & Counterclaim for Paternity (pdf fillable)  

  

Financial Disclosure Form ("FDF")

You (and the other parent) have to file a Financial Disclosure Form within 30 days of when you file your Answer. It is best to file it with your Answer so you do not forget later.

The Financial Disclosure Form, or “FDF,” gives information about your employment, your income, and your expenses.  You do not need to complete the "Personal Asset and Debt" information in this form. The information on this form helps the judge determine child support and any other financial issues. If you do not fill out this form completely and accurately, the court may rule against you. 

You must attach your three most recent paystubs to this form.

Financial Disclosure Form (pdf)  Financial Disclosure Form - General (pdf fillable)

 

Joint Preliminary Injunction ("JPI")

You do not need to fill out this form if the other party already did.  If they did not, you can request this injunction when you file your papers.  The injunction prevents both parents from doing the following while the case is going on:

  • You cannot cancel any 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. 

Whoever has the form issued by the Clerk is legally prevented from doing all of the above things as soon as it is issued. The other parent is 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.

Joint Preliminary Injunction Request (pdf) 

Joint Preliminary Injunction Request (pdf fillable) 

 

4. File Your Papers

After you fill out the papers above, you will need to file them with the family court. If the other parent filed a "paternity" case, the fee to file your response is $223.  If the other parent filed a "custody" case, the fee to file your answer is $212. 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.

You can file your papers one of three ways:

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

 

Next Step: Serve the Plaintiff

After you complete the steps on this page, a copy of your answer/counterclaim (and anything else you filed) must be sent to the other parent (the “Plaintiff”). 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 these papers.  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 Answer & Counterclaim page.