Visitation for Non-Parents
This page provides information for non-parents (grandparents, siblings, etc.) who want to get court-ordered visitation with minor children. This is not an easy process. Before pursuing this kind of case, be sure to read all of the information on this page. You are encouraged to consult with an attorney to find out your odds of succeeding with this type of case. Read on for more information about:
The law regarding non-parent visitation generally favors parents. Anyone seeking visitation must be aware of three things before filing:
- Only certain people are allowed to ask for visitation.
- Those people can only ask for visitation if the parents are divorced, separated, deceased, or the rights have been terminated.
- Even then, the law presumes that any denial of visitation is in the best interest of the child.
Who Can Ask for Visitation?
Not everyone can ask the court for visitation with a child. Nevada law only allows the following people to petition for visitation with a child:
- The child's grandparents.
- The child's great-grandparents.
- The child's siblings.
- Anyone who has lived with the child and established a meaningful relationship with the child.
What About the Parents?
A judge can only consider a request for visitation if the parents of the child are divorced, separated, deceased, or if parental rights are about to be terminated. Generally speaking, if the parents are married and denying visitation, the court will not get involved.
If the parents meet one of the categories above, then a person seeking visitation must show that the parents have denied or unreasonably restricted visitation. If visitation is being allowed, just not on the schedule that you would like, a court is not likely to get involved.
What Will I Have to Prove?
If a parent is denying visitation with a child, there is a legal presumption that visitation is NOT be in the best interest of the child.
Anyone trying to establish visitation with a minor child must prove to the judge by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interest of the child to grant visitation. This is a very high legal standard! The factors that a judge will consider are found in NRS 125C.050(6), and include things like:
- The love, affection, and emotional ties between the child and the person seeking visitation.
- The prior relationship between the child and the person seeking visitation.
- The moral fitness, mental health, and physical health of the person seeking visitation.
- The child's wishes, if the child is mature enough to express a preference.
- Whether the person seeking visitation will encourage a close relationship between the child and the parents.
- Any financial support contributed by the persons seeking visitation.
- The ability of the person seeking visitation to provide love, support, food, clothing, and medical care during visitation.
These cases are hard to do by yourself since the legal requirements and standards are very strict. Legal advice is encouraged before trying to proceed with one of these cases. Please visit Lawyers and Legal Help to find out where you may be able to locate an attorney.
To open a non-parent visitation case, you will need to fill out these forms:
- Family Court Cover Sheet
- Petition for Visitation
- Motion for Visitation, Referral to Mediation, or Trial Setting
- Motion / Opposition Fee Information Sheet
This form asks for basic information about you, the parents, and the children involved in the case. You are the Petitioner and the children's parents are the Respondents. The Clerk of Court uses this information to open your case.
If CPS is involved with the children and the children are wards of the state (meaning, there is a court case pending through CPS), then the Department of Family Services must be named as a Respondent as well. All of the papers filed will have to be served on the Department of Family Services so they can take part in the visitation case.
This form is required to open your case, and tells the judge and the parents what visitation you would like the judge to order. Be sure to fill out all of the sections.
This form sets a hearing with the judge. The form lets you explain all of the legal reasons that you should be given visitation with the child. When you file this form, you will get a court date where you and the parents will appear in front of the judge. Be sure to fill out all of the sections, or if something does not apply, write "n/a" in that section. If you leave something blank, the judge will not know what you are asking for, and it may slow down your case.
You must fill out a “Motion/Opposition Fee Information Sheet” every time you file a motion. This form tells the Clerk of Court whether you have to pay a filing fee. There is usually no fee to file this kind of motion because it is a “motion filed before final order,” and therefore excluded from the usual filing fees.
This form tells the parents that you have filed a court case asking for visitation. The form also tells the parents that they must file a response within 21 days, or a default may be entered against them.
After you fill out the papers above, you will need to file them with the family court to open up a case. The fee to file these papers is $270. 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:
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.
After you file your legal papers, the next step is having the parents personally served with a copy of everything you filed. If CPS is involved in the case, you also need to serve the Department of Family Services. You are responsible for serving the parties. The court does not serve the papers for you.
A full discussion of how to serve legal papers can be found by clicking here (the discussion relates to serving divorce papers, but the procedures and requirements are the same). Generally speaking, you must do the following to have the parents served:
- Make copies of everything you filed to serve on the parents.
- The parents must be personally served with the papers. This means someone must hand-deliver the papers to the parents. Find someone over the age of 18 who is not involved in the case to personally serve the papers. YOU CANNOT SERVE THE PAPERS YOURSELF. The Sheriff's Civil Process Section will serve the documents for a fee.
- Whoever serves the parents must complete an Affidavit of Service that states when, where, what, and who was served.
Affidavit of Service (pdf)
- The Affidavit of Service must be filed with the court so the judge knows that service has been completed. The original Summons must also be returned to the court for filing along with the Affidavit of Service.
You only have 120 days after opening your case to have the parents served. If you do not, your case could be dismissed and you will have to start all over.
You and the parents will go to court on the date set on your "motion." At the hearing, the judge may refer you and the parents to mediation to try and work out your own agreement, or may set the matter for trial. The judge is not required to grant you visitation at this hearing; visitation may not be ordered until you and the parents reach an agreement or you have proved your case at trial.
If you and the parents are referred to mediation, you can learn more about the mediation process by visiting the Family Mediation Center page. If your case is set for trial, you can learn about the procedures you will need to know by visiting the Trial page (the page is designed to give information about divorce trials, but the procedures and things you need to know are the same).