Enforcing Out-of-State Custody Orders
When a parent is withholding a child in violation of another state’s custody order and the child is in Nevada, the other parent may need a Nevada judge’s help to get the child back. The Nevada court can enforce another court’s order if the proper procedures are followed. This page explains what to do if you have a child custody order from another state, you have already registered the order with Nevada, and you need a Nevada judge to enforce the order.
If you have not yet “registered” the other state’s custody order, please visit Registration of an Out-of-State Order and follow those instructions first. You can file these enforcement papers with the registration papers if there is an emergency and you need the court’s help right away. But you must file the registration papers in addition to the papers on this page.
Once another state’s child custody order is registered in Nevada, a Nevada judge can take steps to enforce that order if the child is being withheld. A Nevada judge can:
- Order the parents to appear in court, with or without the child, on an expedited basis.
- Enforce a visitation schedule ordered by another state.
- Temporarily order a visitation schedule if the other state’s order does not provide a specific schedule.
- Issue a warrant for the immediate return of the child if the judge finds that the child is immediately likely to suffer serious physical harm or be removed from this state.
A Nevada judge generally will not have the power to change the custody order, since the original state that made the order usually keeps that power.
Understanding and litigating multi-state custody matters can be difficult to do on your own. If you are unsure what to do or what state to go to for help, it is always best to consult with an attorney. You can find information on locating legal help under Lawyers and Legal Help.
The Nevada State Children’s Advocate operates as part of the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, and works to find and return missing children to their parents. The Nevada State Children’s Advocate may be able to help parents whose children have been abducted or kidnapped. Please visit Missing Children for more information about their services and how to contact them.
Enforcing Another State’s Custody Order in Nevada
There are several steps involved in getting the court's help to enforce another state's custody order that is being violated. Follow the steps below to ask the court for help:
- Register the Other State's Child Custody Order
- Fill out the Paperwork
- File the Paperwork
- Submit the Papers to the Judge
- Serve the Other Parent
- Go to the Hearing
- Prepare an Order
The first step required to get a Nevada judge to enforce another state’s child custody order is to register a certified copy of the other state’s order in Nevada. The instructions and forms needed to do this are on the Registration of Out-of-State Custody Orders page. You can file the registration forms with these enforcement forms at the same time.
To have another state’s custody order registered in Nevada, you must fill out the following forms:
Petition for Enforcement
This form tells the judge about the out of state custody order and how it is being violated. This form asks the judge to return the child(ren) to you. If the children are immediately likely to suffer serious physical harm or be removed from this state, you may ask the judge for a warrant to take custody of the child immediately. You must complete the appropriate areas in section 9.
Order to Appear
This form sets a hearing for you and the other parent to appear in front of a judge. Fill out the upper half of page 1, the children’s names on page 2, and sign the bottom of page 2. The judge will fill out the rest.
Warrant to Take Physical Custody of a Child
This form instructs law enforcement to take the child from the other parent. The judge will only sign this if the children are immediately likely to suffer serious physical harm or be removed from this state. Fill out all of the sections except for the “Special Instructions” on page 2 and the date and signature line for the judge.
Only the Petition for Expedited Enforcement will be filed immediately. The other two documents will go to the judge to review and sign if appropriate.
You can file the Petition for Expedited Enforcement 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.
After you file your petition, you will have to submit the following documents to the judge for review: a copy of the Petition for Expedited Enforcement, the original Order to Appear, and the original Warrant to Take Physical Custody of a Child.
Put your documents in the Department Drop Box located on the 1st floor of the Family Courthouse outside the Self-Help Center (or mail them to 601 North Pecos, Las Vegas, NV 89101). The judge will review your papers. The judge will fill out the Order to Appear setting a court date. The judge may or may not sign the Warrant to Take Physical Custody of a Child (the judge will only sign this if the judge believes the child is immediately likely to suffer serious physical harm or be removed from this state).
The judge’s staff will notify you by phone or by mail after the judge has reviewed the documents.
After the judge has reviewed and signed the documents, it will be up to you to make sure the other parent gets served with a copy of your petition and any orders the judge signed. The court does not serve the papers for you. Be sure to serve the court-filed forms that include the filing date and the hearing date!
How you have the documents served will depend on which orders the judge signed.
- If the judge signed the Warrant and the Order to Appear, contact law enforcement and give them a copy of the warrant and the order. They will be able to assist you in serving the papers and retrieving the child. Ask the law enforcement officer to provide you with written proof of when and where the documents were served, or ask the officer to fill out the Affidavit of Service below.
- If the judge only signed the Order to Appear, someone over 18 who is not a party to the case must hand-deliver a copy of the order and a copy of your petition to the other parent. Whoever serves the Petition and the Order to Appear should fill out the Affidavit of Service stating when, where, and what documents were served. The Affidavit of Service must be filed before the hearing, or if you do not have time to file it, bring it with you.
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.