Responding to a Custody or Paternity Case

Responding to the Custody / Paternity Papers

If you were 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. This page explains important information you should know, deadlines you must follow, and forms you must file once you have been served. 

Questions bw Before you begin:

  • Is this page for me?  This page is for people who have been served with the very first papers starting a custody or paternity case (a complaint and summons).  If you were served with something called a "motion" there are different papers you need to respond. If you received a motion asking for "temporary" orders, visit Opposing a Motion for Temporary Orders. If you received a motion to change or enforce existing orders,  see Changing the Order or Enforcing the Order for more information about how to oppose those motions.
  • Do I have to file something?  If you disagree with anything the other parent is asking for in their papers, you need to file a response.  If you don't, the other parent may be able to get everything they asked for in their complaint.
  • What laws apply?  Learn the basics of the laws that apply on the Custody Overview page.  
  • Where can I learn more?  You can attend a free custody class that teaches you the basics about custody cases.   

Follow these steps to respond to the case: 

Parenting Plan bw 1: Read the complaint and decide what to do.  Ignoring the papers will not make the case go away.  You need to understand what the other party is asking for so you can decide what to do.  

Deadline 1 bw 2. Know your deadline!  You have to act quickly if you disagree with anything the other party is asking for. 

Copy bw 3. Fill out the forms.  You have to fill out at least one form to respond to the case.

Clerk bw 4. File the forms.  Turn in your completed forms by mail, efiling, or in person to the Clerk of Court.

Service by mail bw 5. Serve the Plaintiff.  You are responsible for serving the other party with a copy of your filed forms, usually by mail or e-service. 

Learn more about each step below. 


Parenting Plan bw 1. Read the complaint and decide what to do.

The complaint tells you what the other party is asking for.  Don’t worry, the judge has not ordered anything yet.  Read the complaint. 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.  The other parent can request a default Custody Decree in 21 days that matches everything requested in their complaint if you do not respond.  

If you disagree with even one thing the other parent is asking for, you will need to file a response. 

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.

Deadline 1 bw 2. Know your deadline!

You only have 21 calendar days after being served to file your papers. If you were served more than 21 days ago, or if you are not going to be able to file a response within 21 days, you can fill out BOTH of the following forms to ask the judge to extend the time to let you file:

Request To Extend the Time to Answer (pdf fillable)

Order To Extend the Time to Answer (pdf fillable)

If a default was already 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.


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.

Copy bw 3. Fill out the forms.

To respond to the case you will need to file the forms below, or use the guided online interview to complete them electronically. 

Answer (and maybe a counterclaim) - required

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.

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. You do not have to give any reasons.

Answer to Custody/Paternity Complaint (pdf)

Answer to Custody/Paternity Complaint (pdf fillable)

Answer with a Counterclaim. This is an "Answer" (described above) plus a "Counterclaim" where you can explain what you want the judge to order (like the Plaintiff did).

If the other party filed a "Complaint for Custody," use this form. 

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

If the other party filed a "Complaint for Paternity," use this form. 

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


Financial Disclosure Form ("FDF") - due within 30 days of filing your answer

You (and the other parent) have to file a Financial Disclosure Form ("FDF") 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 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") - optional

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 fill out and file the form below asking the Clerk of Court to issue one.

Joint Preliminary Injunction Request (pdf fillable) 


Clerk bw 4. File the forms

The fee to respond to a custody case is $212, and the fee to respond to a paternity case is $223.  You can pay by cash, money order, or most major credit/debit cards. If you cannot afford the fee, visit Filing Fees and Waivers to find out how to ask the court to waive the fee.

You can file your papers one of these ways:

  1. Online: You can file online through the court's e-filing system, eFileNV. 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 as separate pdfs.  Do not upload one pdf with all of the forms included - this will significantly delay the processing.  Each form needs to be filed as its own pdf, but you can upload all of them in one submission.  Carefully follow the E-Filing Guide to avoid mistakes. 
    E-Filing Guide

  2. In person at the Family Courthouse (check our How to File page for hours and more information).
  3. By Mail: (mail takes about 6-8 weeks to process and is not suggested if you are under a deadline to file) Mail your forms and the filing fee (with check or money order made out to Clerk of Court) to:

    Family Courts and Services Center
    Attn: Clerk of Court
    601 North Pecos Road
    Las Vegas, NV 89101

Service by mail bw 5. Serve the Plaintiff

The Court does not serve the papers for you.  It is up to YOU to make sure the other parent (the "Plaintiff") gets served with your answer.   

After you file, send a copy of your answer/counterclaim (and anything else you filed) to the Plaintiff or their attorney if they have one.  You have to send it within 3 days of filing.  You can send it by regular mail, or you can e-serve it through the court's system if the other party is registered for e-service.  

After you serve, fill out a Certificate of Service and file it with the court.  

Certificate of Service (pdf fillable)

Now What?

There are a number of things that will happen after you file your Answer. You may have to file some additional papers, and the judge will schedule a hearing that both of you must attend. This page will explain the different things that might happen next in your case.

Read more ...