File a Motion to Go Back to Court
Parties sometimes need to come back to court after a divorce to have orders changed. If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on how to resolve issues that come up later, either one of you can file a motion to ask the judge to change the orders. This page will give you more information on what kinds of changes you can request and the process to get your case back in front of the judge.
- Modifying Child Custody and Visitation
- Relocating With the Children
- Modifying Child Support or Spousal Support (Alimony)
- Set Aside a Default, Decree, or Order
Sometimes things change after a divorce is finalized, and one or both persons want the judge to change the court order. A judge expects the two parties to try and work out the issue on their own first. If you and your ex-spouse are having problems, try to resolve the issue directly with the other person first. If you can work it out on your own, you may be able to avoid a court hearing and Submit a Stipulation and Order instead. You may also be able to work out custody and visitation changes through mediation rather than going to court. Visit the Family Mediation Center page for more information about mediation and how to request a referral to mediation.
When the parties still cannot agree on whether to change the court order or how to change the court order, they can file a motion to come back to court. A “motion” is a written request that tells the judge what the person wants the judge to change and why. Either the Plaintiff or the Defendant can file a motion, and the other party can file a written “opposition” if he or she disagrees with the other party’s requests. A court date is set for any motion that is filed. Both parties will have to go to the court hearing so the judge can ask both of them some questions and decide what orders to change, if any.
Judges do not change court orders lightly. There are legal standards that judges must follow before changing orders, and the legal standard is different depending on what issues are being raised. It is up to the person asking for the change to prove the legal standard before the judge can change the court order.
The most common issues raised in motions to modify orders, and the legal standards to change them, include:
- Changing Child Custody and Visitation: Either parent can ask the judge to change the custody and/or visitation schedule if the schedule is not working. The legal standards to change custody are:
- If the Current Order Gives One Parent Primary Physical Custody: You must prove that changing custody is in the best interest of the child AND that there has been a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child since the last custody order was entered.
- If the Current Order Gives Both Parents Joint Physical Custody: You must prove that changing custody is in the best interest of the children.
- Relocating With the Children: A parent must have permission to move with a child to a faraway place. This means moving outside of Nevada or anywhere inside Nevada that is so far away it would seriously harm the other parent’s relationship with the child. If the other parent will not agree to the move, a judge must allow the move.
- The moving parent must show that there is a sensible, good faith reason for the move, and that the move would be in the child's best interest. The parent must also show that the parent and child will benefit from an actual advantage if allowed to move.
- If the moving parent does not already have primary physical custody, the parent must also prove that it would be in the child's best interest for that parent to have primary physical custody.
- Changing Child Support or Spousal Support (Alimony): A person can ask the court to change the court-ordered amount of child support or spousal support in the following situations:
- Changing Child Support: Typically, child support can be reviewed by the judge every three years, or whenever there is a 20% change or more in a parent’s income.
- Changing Spousal Support: Alimony is reviewable if the person paying alimony has had a 20% or more change in income.
- Set Aside a Default, Decree, or Order: A person can ask the court to set aside, or “undo,” a default or a final order that was entered if the order is wrong or unjust. Do not file this motion just because you disagree with what the judge ordered. A person filing this kind of motion must show that the underlying order was obtained due to fraud, misrepresentation, mistake, excusable neglect, or misconduct of the other party (to name some of the reasons). This motion usually must be filed within 6 months of when the order was entered.
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!
- Select and Complete the Paperwork
- File the Paperwork
- Serve the Other Party (the most important and often forgotten step!)
- Go to the Hearing
- Prepare an Order After the Hearing
You will need to complete a Motion, the Motion/Opposition Fee Information Sheet, and a Financial Disclosure Form (if there are financial issues for the judge to decide).
The Financial Disclosure Form
This form is required if you are asking to change any financial orders, such as child support or spousal support. You must attach your three most recent paystubs to this form.
The Motion / Opposition Fee Information Sheet
This form is always required. You must fill out a “Motion/Opposition Fee Information Sheet” every time you file a motion or opposition. This form tells the Clerk of Court whether you have to pay a filing fee. There may be a $25 filing fee to file your motion.
If you originally got a divorce by filing a Joint Petition for Divorce, the Court will charge an additional $129 the first time you file a motion and reopen your case. This additional fee goes into effect July 1, 2015.
Be sure to read the descriptions above to learn the legal standards you must meet if you want to file one of these motions. The Family Law Self-Help Center has the following motions available:
Motion to Modify Custody, Visitation, and/or Child Support: This motion may be used by parents who want to change the custody or visitation schedule, and/or child support.
Motion for Permission to Relocate: This motion may be used by parents who want to relocate with the children out of the state of Nevada or within Nevada to a place so far away it would significantly impair the other parent's ability to maintain a relationship with the child.
Motion to Modify Child Support and/or Spousal Support: This motion may be used by anyone who wants to change the child support and/or alimony order. Be sure to also file a Financial Disclosure Form to support your request.
Motion to Set Aside Default, Decree, or Order: This motion may be used by anyone who has defaulted (meaning, the clerk entered a default against the person for not responding to the complaint by the deadline), or anyone who wants a final order undone because the order was obtained by fraud, mistake, misrepresentation, etc.
Generic Motion: If you want to file a motion about something other than the topics above, you can file a motion using the “Generic Motion” form below. You must include a summary of the legal basis for your motion, explain the reason you are filing the motion, and state what you would like the judge to order.
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.
Just like with your initial documents, you can file the Motion, the Motion/Opposition Fee Information Sheet, and the Financial Disclosure Form in one of three ways:
- In Person at the Family Courthouse.
- By Mail (Family Court, 601 North Pecos, Las Vegas, NV 89101).
- Online through eFileNV.
FYI!When you file a motion, the Clerk will set a hearing date. If there is an emergency and you want the judge to hear your case sooner, you can file additional documents asking the judge to change the court date. Download the Order Shortening Time Packet (pdf fillable) for all of the instructions and forms needed to ask the judge to hear your case quickly.
THIS STEP IS VERY IMPORTANT! If you do not follow this step properly, the judge may cancel your hearing! Be sure to read and follow the instructions here to make sure the other party is properly served with your papers. It is up to YOU to serve the documents; the court does not serve the documents for you.
All of the documents you filed must be served on your ex-spouse, or, if your ex-spouse is represented by an attorney, you must serve the attorney. This is to make sure the other party knows about the hearing and has a chance to respond to your papers. You must serve the papers within 3 calendar days of filing the documents.
How to Serve the Papers:
- Electronic: If the other party is registered with the court's e-service program, you will be able to electronically serve the documents at the time of filing.
- By Mail: If the other party has not registered with eFileNV, you will have to send the documents through the U.S. Mail (you can send them by regular mail, there is no need to send them by certified mail). If you do not know where your ex-spouse 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.
After you serve the documents, fill out a Certificate of Service that states when, where, and how you served the documents. File the Certificate of Service with the court before your hearing.
You can find answers to common questions about service on the Frequently Asked Questions: Service page.
If the other party files an opposition that you would like to respond to, you can file a Reply to Opposition / Countermotion (pdf fillable) where you can let the judge know any additional facts to support your case. File this before you go to court.
It is a good idea to review some tips on how to Represent Yourself in Court before you go to the hearing.
You may also want to watch some videos that the family court judges prepared to help you understand the court process. You can view helpful videos from the judges by clicking here.
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.