The Adoption Journey

Today is my adoption day

This Is It

The phone was ringing again. And with every ring, her hopes increased with thoughts of, “This is it!”

For the two months they waited to have a child placed with them, she was more than ready and incredibly anxious. The decision to adopt was a deep spiritual knowing for her; she simply knew this was how they would bring another child into their family. The social workers had already placed a couple of children with them but that fell through for various reasons.

She had reached the point of deciding whether to remain on this tearful, emotional roller coaster. She summarizes her life philosophy with two sayings, “Bless it and send it” and “Lay it at the base of the cross”. She and her husband decided to use this philosophy in the adoption process.

The two of them agreed to be intentional about the child they desired. With that decision, they sat at the kitchen table with a pink post it note and brainstormed what they wanted in a child. They wrote very specific details on that pink post it note. The couple said a special prayer together. They then placed the pink post it note, with its scribbles detailing their child, underneath a cross on the fireplace.

Kids Are Her Life

Kim has been in the early childhood field for 31 years and has owned a preschool for the past 20 years. She was 39 years old with a 13-year-old daughter when she met Damon, her future husband. He had previously been married also but had no children. Kim feels that her husband is the kind of person made to be a Dad as he is so great with kids.

When they got married, they agreed that they wanted to have at least one child together. Yet, there was a problem. Kim had medical issues a few years back and did not think that she could physically have a child.

With this in mind, she and Damon obtained paperwork from the county to foster to adopt. They began completing the paperwork and taking the steps to make the adoption happen. Within two months of this, Kim was pregnant! They decided to stop moving forward with the adoption process for the time being.

The pregnancy was a little rough as she was “advanced maternal age and high risk” with much testing; which was scary for Kim with discussions about the various things that could be “wrong” with their son. Dylan was born healthy with no problems for either one of them.

An Only Child

Five years later, Kim and Damon’s son Dylan was 5 years old and in kindergarten. Their daughter, Hailey (from Kim’s first marriage), was 20 years old and in college, living on her own. They could see that their son was lonely at times. They really did not want him to be “an only” child. Hailey was essentially “an only” child as she was 15 years old when Dylan was born. Kim was also an only child and she despised it.

Kim was 45 years old and even if they could have another baby; she shares there was no way she was mentally or physically prepared to do that. The thought of a newborn was overwhelming to her. They also wanted a certain age difference between their biological son and his soon to be sibling. Kim and Damon knew they were not in a position to take on the responsibilities and time commitment of having an infant.

They had learned previously about the tremendous need for foster and adoptive families in the community. They really believed in the program. During this same time, Kim was at a fundraiser for her son’s school and another mom showed her the kids on the “Have a Heart” website. One little girl in particular really captured her attention. She could not get her mind off her. She and Damon talked about it and he was on board with learning more about the little girl.

They discovered that the little girl was in need of a very specialized home with no other children or pets due to her previous trauma and special needs. Kim so wanted to “save” her but she had to accept that she was not the child for them. However, the experience did serve as a very important stepping stone along their journey, as the little girl was the catalyst for inspiring them to begin moving forward again with fostering to adopt. This eventually led them to where they are today.

A Spiritual Calling

The desire to adopt a child became a spiritual calling for Kim. It was something that she felt a deep desire in her heart to make happen. She just could not let it go. She is not sure that Damon would say the same. Kim feels it was more about supporting her and a knowing that it was the right thing to do. He encouraged her and was along for the ride as he didn’t feel as compelled as she did to make this happen. Kim steered the ship and Damon was her shipmate.

Within two weeks of writing their intentions on a post it note and praying together, two and a half year old daughter Olivia came to live with them. She had been in foster care since 6 months of age.

This was a journey for their entire tribe as they had an incredible support system. Family, friends and neighbors stood by them throughout the entire 2-year process. Kim shares they are, and were, blessed to have such great encouragement as it took time to trust those on the outside of their tribe; those involved with the adoption process.

And even so, Kim doesn’t know how much you can really fully trust people when you have to be an advocate for your child. She feels the workers are well intentioned; but, they have a tremendous amount of responsibilities. She had to stay on top of things; making many phone calls and advocating for Olivia in order to get what they needed for their child.

The Process

They were required to take parenting classes as part of the adoption process. The classes covered what these children may be experiencing coming from difficult situations and preparing families for receiving a new child into the family. They were also provided with a transitional liaison who would check in with them periodically.

Kim and Damon were concerned about having medical background and history for the birth parents and early life of any child they considered adopting. However, there was very little medical history for Olivia as she was not born in a hospital. She did not receive medical care until she went into foster care at 6 months of age. She was tested for many health issues and all test results were negative.

It was known that Olivia’s biological mom has health issues and Olivia is known to have been exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero but it is not known to what extent. The foster mom has fostered hundreds of children with varying degrees of health issues. She reassured them that Olivia did not show any signs to be concerned about with her health or development.

Kim was able to love a child who was not biologically hers almost instantly. On the other hand, Damon felt an obligation to care for and protect her; but it took him some time to develop love for her. For him, the issue of being blood related seemed to be of more significance than it was for Kim. This was hard for her to understand and resulted in many in depth conversations between the two of them as they navigated all that adding another child to their family entailed.

Outside of Kim’s immediate family, their family’s concerns in the beginning were rooted in them taking on a child with special needs and the amount of time it would take away from their biological children. The family was concerned it would be overwhelming for Kim and Damon. Kim feels the family did have valid points and concerns as the young girl from the “Have a Heart” website who had captured Kim’s heart in the very beginning of this process, had extensive medical issues. She was viewing the situation through rose-colored glasses against the advice of those around her.

The range of emotions the family experienced throughout this entire process were diverse. Joy, anticipation, anxiety, sadness, empathy, frustration, anger, and worry are some of the emotions that Kim experienced.

They found the adoption system to be difficult. In Kim and Damon’s case, the biological parental rights had not been terminated. Going through that process was extremely emotionally difficult. Olivia’s biological mom fought against terminating her rights. This did not involve Kim and Damon. It was between the Department of Social Services and the biological mom.

However, they were required to be present at the trial. Kim could hear the biological mom sobbing as she relinquished her parental rights to her child. It was not a celebratory time for Kim as her heart hurt for that mom. She was flooded with empathy for her in that moment of listening to her sobs. Kim’s bond with her kids is incredibly strong and this was a trigger for her.

From the beginning of the process, the Department of Social Services wanted Olivia to have contact with the biological mom. It is always the Department’s process to reunite children with their biological parents or to have contact with them. The Mama Bear in Kim rose to the surface as she became protective, frustrated, and angry. She did not feel it was appropriate and thought it would be confusing for Olivia. In Kim’s view, the system did not seem to have Olivia’s best interest at heart. They took Olivia to a therapist and the therapist made the recommendation that having contact with the birth mom was not appropriate for Olivia. They were thankful that this put the issue to rest.

A New Normal

Kim shares there was a reality they all had to accept once Olivia was a part of their family. They had to adapt to a new normal. Big brother had really wanted a baby sister and after two weeks, he was done with her and ready for her to go back to where she came from.

For Kim, she knew that she needed to bond with Olivia and doing that meant she had to spend a great deal of time with her and somewhat re-parent her. There was much holding her, rocking her, singing lullabies, and tons of contact.

For Damon, he saw Kim’s bonding with Olivia as taking her time away from him, and he had to adjust to this. Even her older daughter had to adjust to there being another daughter.

However, as a family, they viewed this as all part of a normal and natural transition. They had a great deal of communication and conversations about the feelings everyone was experiencing. It took time and patience.


Kim finds it interesting how much other people are curious about their journey. People really want to know about it and she does not mind sharing. She has made it a goal to encourage and help other families to do what they did.

She has mentored two other families through the process. Her advice to others considering this journey is to be incredibly specific and detailed about what you are willing to do and not do. Kim feels there are so many children that need homes and this will help to not to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the need. Another piece of advice Kim shares is that kids are kids and they do not come with a guarantee. All we can do is handle things as they come up and do the best we can.


Two years after beginning the process, setting and writing their intentions, Kim and Damon officially adopted Olivia!  I had the privilege of doing the adoption for them.  This family had one of the largest crowds I have had in the courtroom for an adoption!  The unique thing was that the foster family that first had sweet Olivia also came to the adoption hearing!

They are currently sending out announcements to family and friends to announce the finalization of the adoption! It will be a combination adoption party and 4 year birthday celebration for Olivia.

This is it!

They have their beautiful daughter Olivia and it has been a journey filled with the full range of emotions and much advocacy.

Time to celebrate!

Family Lawyers Also Bring Families Together

Wahoe county sees record number of adoptions news 2

By Rayna Brachmann, Esq.
One of the most rewarding aspects of being an attorney practicing family law is when I get to help families with adoptions.  I’ve had the pleasure of representing the Martinez family in their adoptions of all three of the children featured in this video.  They are a wonderful, giving and kind family, and it was an honor to assist them with the legal process that made their bonds with their children official.  They are just one of many families in Washoe County who have adopted children in need of homes.  The team at Washoe County Human Services Agency works hard to bring families together and it is one of the best parts of my job to be able to assist with the Court process to finalize adoptions.

The Disposition of Genetically Stored Material

by Amy S. Hodgson, ACP

The Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, section 1271, regulates human cells, tissues, and cellular and tissue-based products. The purpose was to establish donor eligibility, current good tissue practice, and other procedures to prevent the introduction, transmission, and spread of communicable diseases. This included oocyte (egg) donations, and semen donations for use in assisted reproductive technology cases.

For those seeking to become parents and unable to conceive a child naturally, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a logical next step.

During IVF, mature eggs are collected from the ovaries, and are fertilized by sperm in a lab. When prospective parents use IVF, many of them hope to generate more embryos than they intend to implant immediately. The technology often requires multiple attempts to reach a successful pregnancy, and couples can cryopreserve any excess embryos so that they have them on hand for later attempts.

But what happens to the cryopreserved eggs/sperm/ embryos during divorce?

Given the lengthy duration of cryopreservation, many courts in the U.S. face a recurring problem: the partners dissolve their relationship, and one party wants to use the frozen embryos over the objections of the other. Courts and legislatures have struggled with how to handle these cases, which seem to pit one partner’s right to procreate against the other’s right not to procreate.

The first case to consider the disposition of disputed embryos in a divorce was Davis v. Davis (TN 1992), wherein the Supreme Court of Tennessee decided a dispute over cryopreserved pre-embryos. The parties had not signed any written agreement regarding disposition of their embryos at the time they underwent IVF. In the absence of a prior agreement, the Tennessee Supreme Court balanced the parties’ conflicting constitution interests in procreation – Wife’s right to procreate and Husband’s right not to procreate. The court ultimately decided in favor of Husband, in part relying on the possibility of Wife achieving parenthood through another cycle of IVF or through adoption. The court went on to say these disputes should be resolved according to the preferences of the embryos’ progenitors, if prior agreement exists, and only in the absence of an agreement should a court balance the parties’ interests, and in most cases, the party wishing to avoid procreation would prevail.

The law recognizes every person’s right to control his or her future precreation. This right severely limits the government’s ability to prevent a woman from aborting her pregnancy, prevents the government from controlling an individual’s medical choices, and prevents courts from intermeddling in private parties’ procreational decisions. The law, however, has always limited the ability to contract by refusing to enforce agreements that violate public policy or intrude on domestic courts’ decision making authority regarding children.

In Re Marriage of Dahl and Angel, 194 P.3d 834 (Or. Ct. App. 2008), the appellate court found that frozen embryos are “Personal Property” in the context of a dissolution of marriage. The court further found that absent a countervailing policy, it was just and proper to dispose of the embryos in the manner the parties chose at the time they underwent IVF.

In July 2012, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws approved and recommended that states adopt the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act. This Act not only regulates property and money issues in the drafting of premarital and marital agreements, but also expressly recognized that there may be agreements on “custodial responsibility.” This term includes child custody, child support, and child creation. Under the Act, such agreements would not bind the courts because parents and prospective parents do not have the power to waive the rights of their current or future children or to remove the jurisdiction or duty of the courts to protect the best interest of minor children.

A progenitor dying and leaving genetically stored material poses its own issues, leaving his children and other heirs with the unwanted task of deciding what to do. If the heirs determine to maintain the genetically stored material or agree to the transfer of the embryo in hopes of creating a child, inheritance issues can add to the challenge. Under the Social Security Act, a posthumously conceived child’s right to inherit under the applicable state’s intestacy statute is dispositive of that child’s right to receive Social Security Benefits. If a child qualifies for intestate succession under the applicable state law, that child can receive Social Security benefits through a deceased wage earning parent.

However, state legislatures have failed to keep pace with scientific development and only 11 states sufficiently address how to resolve issues dipositive of whether a posthumously conceived child can inherit under intestate succession.

These issues can be avoided if the progenitor addresses the following issues:

  1. Whether stored genetic material can be used for procreation after decedent’s death;
  2. Whether any posthumous children should have any inheritance rights;
  3. Who should have control, authority, and possession over the stored genetic material;
  4. Whether the estate will pay for ongoing storage fees;
  5. Whether trust funds can be properly used for storage payment, fertility treatment, support of competing beneficiaries;
  6. How long should the decedent’s estate be kept open to deal with after born children;
  7. Who is an heir or distribute under intestacy;
  8. Who is included in any class of gifts.

Some medical providers are including a dispositional agreement in their informed consent documents at the beginning of the IVF process. However, asking couples to determine what should be done with the embryos if they die, become disabled, or choose to divorce adds yet another layer of information that can be difficult to process or thoughtfully evaluate. These couples are often emotionally distraught about their fertility challenges and are focused solely on having a baby. Asking them to think about their mortality or future marital problems could lead to psychological overload and a glossing over of the import of the information that is being conveyed.

There is a proposal that new legislation require couples to come to an agreement on the disposition of embryos before they can begin any IVF procedures. Such laws would allow courts to honor the parties’ intentions manifested in their agreement and to apply the clear foundational principles of contract law in the event of a dispute regarding terms or intent.

Until a clear legal consensus emerges on the issue, individuals cannot have any reasonable expectations about their legal rights when it comes to cryopreserved embryos.

Changes to Alimony Taxability as of January 1, 2019

Stack Of Dollar Banknotes With Judges Or Auctioneers Gavel Or Hammer, Trial Or Tribunal Concept, Auction Concept, Close Up

As many people are aware, when Congress changed the tax laws in 2017, one of the changes was to make alimony no longer taxable to the recipient spouse, and no longer tax deductible to the paying spouse.  This change goes into effect for all new alimony orders as of January 1, 2019.  However, what many people do not realize is that modifications of existing alimony orders, that is alimony orders in place prior to December 31, 2018, can be grandfathered in and remain tax deductible to the paying spouse, and taxable to the receiving spouse.  Indeed, unless the modification of alimony order specifies that the modified alimony order should be governed by the new law such that it is tax neutral, the modification of the pre-2019 alimony order will also be grandfathered in.

In other words, all new alimony orders entered after January 1, 2019, will no longer be tax deductible for the payor spouse.  However, if the order is modifying an existing pre-2019 alimony order, it will remain tax deductible unless specifically.

This can be a helpful tool for negotiating modifications to existing alimony orders as the tax implications have been a relevant consideration in alimony orders up until the changes to the tax law in 2017.  For the spouse paying alimony, the ability to deduct their alimony has often resulted in an ability to pay a larger sum to their former spouse because of the tax savings at year end.  This change to the law removes this consideration from all future alimony negotiations, but it also means that the spouse receiving alimony will be able to count on the full sum of the money received, rather than a reduced amount due to alimony being taxable.

If you have questions about alimony in 2019, or any other issues related to divorce, we are here to help.

A Team Approach To Divorce Without The Threat Of Litigation: Collaborative Divorce

Collaberative Divorce unity, division

By Melissa Exline, Esq.

Few family law attorneys in Nevada offer Collaborative Divorce as a means for couples to obtain a decree of divorce. This is despite the fact that the Collaborative Law approach to dispute resolution has grown nationally as a means to aid couples trying to get a divorce. Indeed, as far back as 2011, Nevada enacted the Uniform Collaborative Law Act, which specifically allows for the Collaborative Law process. NRS 38.400 et. seq.

So, What is Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Divorce is a way for married couples to get a divorce without the threat of litigation. How is this achieved? Don’t we just negotiate prelitigation and see what we can get done? If it fails, then file suit-right? Collaborative Law addresses precisely this last part, i.e., it takes away the incentive to throw up your hands and file when there is an apparent stalemate.

First, a little background: In 1990, a Minnesota lawyer named Stu Webb began a process that he called “Collaborative Law” with a key feature-the “disqualification agreement.” In 2001, the American Bar Association (ABA) published the first book about Collaborative Law, entitled Collaborative Law, Achieving Effective Resolution in Divorce Without Litigation.1 The book, which was updated in 2009, was written by Pauline H. Tesler, a collaborative attorney in San Francisco who was one of the initial people involved in the evolution of the Collaborative Law movement.2 Stu Webb turned to Collaborative Law in response to the wearisome and frustrating nature of litigated divorce.3 Both Webb and Tesler were instrumental in growing Collaborative Law as a new model for divorce lawyers.

The “disqualification agreement” is, in fact, a key element. It is a binding stipulation that disqualifies both spouses’ attorneys if either party threatens or elects to go to court. This aspect is further included in Nevada law. NRS 38.490 explicitly allows the collaborative lawyer to withdraw from the process if litigation ensues. The reason this works is the spouse has “skin in the game” to continue to negotiate. Unlike mediation, where a party can refuse to agree after a significant amount of work has been put into reaching the tentative agreement, or when parties are involved in prelitigation negotiation where an angry spouse elects litigation at any moment, in Collaborative Law, a party is faced with throwing away the lawyer and the lawyer’s work to begin anew in order to opt to fight in court. This is daunting (and expensive) for a person who starts a case with the mindset of doing a “better” divorce. The net result is a party tends to work with their lawyer to reach the finish line short of going to court.

A Team Approach

In Nevada, most collaborative lawyers work with a divorce “team.” This team includes collaboratively-trained attorneys, mental health professionals as coaches for the parties (translation-the coach is the safe place for the party to unload his or her emotional burden rather than doing so all on the lawyer), child specialists (if needed), and financial professionals ( the ones who can really dig in on tax issues, budgets, valuations and other money-related matters). An Interdisciplinary Collaborative model was developed in which the divorcing couple hires a divorce team consisting of divorce coaches (one for each party), a financial neutral, and a child specialist (if applicable and not required simply because the couple may have children), in addition to a collaborative attorney for each party. 4

Collaborative Practice provides you and your spouse or partner with the support and guidance of your own lawyers without going to court. Additionally, Collaborative Practice allows you the benefit of coaches, child and financial specialists all working together with you on your team.

International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). Id.

Less Scorched Earth-More Respect

Another part of Collaborative Law is the voluntary good faith disclosures of all relevant and material information. All of the cards are on the table. The parties agree to maintain open communication and the teamwork to overlap as many shared goals as possible at the outset of the case. Everyone works together to problem-solve with the team to get each side as much of the limited “pie” as possible. The parties must work in good faith to reach a resolution. The goal is a mutually-acceptable agreement and a “win-win” in family law. Yes, I used those words, instead of”lose-lose,” which is found in a typical litigation-model divorce.

With Collaborative Divorce, the goal is to create a lasting agreement, formed by the parties. Hopefully, it will allow a divorced family the ability to move into their new single status without the baggage and acrimony fighting in court often invites. Divorce with respect is possible.

1 See Pauline H. Tesler, Collaborative Law: Achieving Effective Resolution In Divorce Without Litigation (2001).
2 See Gary L. Voegele, Ronald D. Ousky, and Linda K. Wray, Collaborative Law: A Useful Tool for the Family Law Practitioner to Promote Better Outcomes, William Mitchell Law Review, Vol. 33, Iss. 3, 2007, Art. 10.
3 See Stu Webb, Collaborative Law: A Practitioner’s Perspective on Its History and Current Practice, 21 J. Am. Acad. Matrim. Law. 155 (2008)( discussing the creation and development of collaborative law); Stu Webb, Collaborative Law: An Alternative for Attorneys Suffering “Family Law Burnout,” 13 Matrim. Strategist,July 2000, at 7.
4 See International Academy of Collaborative Professionals: What is Collaborative Practice,
For more information on Collaborative Practice visit Nevada Collaborative Divorce Professionals (NCDP) at

Featured in Nevada Family Law Report

Division of Community Property – MUST BE EQUAL

Many divorcing parties are unaware of the fact that Nevada’s community property law requires an “equal division” at divorce.  A divorcing couple will often have a general discussion about splitting assets, but do not take the time to determine of the agreement complies with Nevada law or otherwise meet legal requirements for an unequal buy proscar uk online disposition.  See NRS 125.150(1)(b), which states, in part:

NRS?125.150??Alimony and adjudication of property rights; award of attorney’s fee; subsequent modification by court.??Except as otherwise provided in NRS 125.155 and unless the action is contrary to a premarital agreement between the parties which is enforceable pursuant to chapter 123A of NRS:

1.??In granting a divorce, the court: …

(b)?Shall, to the extent practicable, make an equal disposition of the community property of the parties, except that the court may make an unequal disposition of the community property in such proportions as it deems just if the court finds a compelling reason to do so and sets forth in writing the reasons for making the unequal disposition. …

If the parties are going to reach and agreement resulting in an unequal disposition of the community, such as one party taking more debt or one party keeping all of a retirement asset, there have to be reasons.  Moreover, the Court wants to know what those reasons are, or a divorcing couple could find the matter “stricken” by the Court.

The Court forms provided in various counties in the state do not necessarily make this clear.  A significantly one-sided agreement risks increased scrutiny and/or outright rejection.

National LGBT Bar Association Conference

Kim Surratt is participating in the National LGBT Bar Association Conference in Washington DC this week.  She is at the Family Law Institute right now.  She will be speaking at both the Family Law Institute and at Lavendar Law on assisted reproductive technology matters.

To Prenuptial Agreements or Not?

I just read this Room for Debate from the New York Times about Prenuptial Agreements.  There are various views about the value of Prenuptial Agreements represented in this debate.

One of the best things about a Prenuptial Agreement is that it forces spouses to be to discuss an often difficult subject – finances.  That being said, it can also bring up lots of emotions in what could and theoretically should be a business discussion.  In my view, Prenuptial Agreements are valuable in some circumstances, and worth discussing, but not every to be married/partnered couple needs one.

If you decide you need a Prenuptial Agreement, or want to be advised about one, we can help.

New Discovery Rules in Divorce Cases

Effective January 2013, there are new rules that apply for the financial disclosure form in complex divorces and front loaded discovery requirements for divorce cases in general. The new rules are available at the Nevada Supreme Court’s website.

Reading the new rules, we love the fact that you have to be diligent and prove your expenses and income. But, one cannot help but give pause to the difficulties that some clients will inevitably have in complying with all that is required up front. This includes:

  • 6 months of statements of documents for bank accounts, credit cards, loans/mortgages, and retirement accounts for the period prior to the service of the summons and complaint;
  • Real property documents, i.e. deeds, purchase agreements, etc.
  • Promissory notes and any money held in escrow or deposit that may be payable;
  • Any loan applications made in the prior 12 months;
  • All monthly or periodic statements for insurance and policies;
  • Evidence of any receivable;
  • Business tax returns for the prior 2 (fiscal) years;
  • 2 calendar years of income information available in W-2’s, 1099’s, K-1’s, and year-to-date, i.e. paycheck stubs, for the prior 6 months;
  • Any document that would assist in valuing real or personal property;
  • As list of all personal property worth more than $200.00.

While this list is a summary, it is more comprehensive than what you will need to prepare a tax return and could be extremely cumbersome for clients and their lawyers. Moreover, parties will have a duty to continue to supplement this initial buy proscar ireland up-front disclosure as the new information comes in (within 14 days of any change).

As a lawyer, the concern that arises here has to do with the work to produce this, and counsel not only reviewing the documents to see that they are responsive to the law, but also complete. This will be time consuming and will increase legal fees right out the box. In some cases, counsel can get clients to settle their case by telling them they will have to do this later, and if they want to avoid the hassle, settlement early is a way to do that. Indeed, for those cases that you think could be concluded quickly, preparing the personal property list alone could cause otherwise amicable couples to become entrenched in what items are worth, i.e. sparking a fight over what the tools and camping equipment is worth. The point – they end up fighting unnecessarily.

Despite these concerns, divorcing parties need to be aware and provide this information to their attorney or opposing party right away, since these disclosures are due at the same time as the General Financial Disclosure Form, which is 30 days after service of an answer. Indeed, a party that is thinking of filing may want to wait until they have gathered everything first, then file so everything is ready to disclose without issue.
The lawyers at SLP will be ready to respond – but will the clients?

Relocating – Legal Basics When Contemplating Moving with Children Outside Nevada

Contemplating a move?  Have joint custody over a child and you and your “ex” live in the same town, but now you have a job offer in another state and can provide a better life for yourself and your child?  What do you do?

The area of “relocation” in a child custody situation is more complicated than can be stated here.  But, this is a basic guide on the issue.  If you share joint physical custody (i.e. have nearly a 50/50 time share), here is the process:

The first step, always, is to try to get a written consent from the other parent.  Assuming that fails, then your only option is to file a motion for change of custody under NRS 125.510(2) for the purpose of relocation.  From there, the Court must look at what is in the child’s best interest.  The move cannot simply be in the moving parent’s best interest.  Rather, it has to be in the child’s best interest – keep this in mind as the two do not always overlap.  The Court will look at whether the child’s quality of life will be improved, whether the motive to move is honorable, and whether there will be a realistic opportunity for the non-moving parent to maintain a visitation schedule with the child that will foster their relationship.

In determining the “best interest” of the child, our courts will look at the factors specifically outlined in NRS 125.480 (4).  This statute denotes the mandatory factors for consideration by the Court in awarding custody.  Whenever the child’s best interest is discussed, the factors in NRS 125.480(4) apply, which state:

In determining the best interest of the child, the court shall consider and set forth its specific findingsconcerning, among other things:

(a) The wishes of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to form an intelligent preference as to his custody.

(b) Any nomination by a parent or a guardian for the child.

(c) Which parent is more likely to allow the child to have frequent associations and a continuing relationship with the noncustodial parent.

(d) The level of conflict between the parents.

(e) The ability of the parents to cooperate to meet the needs of the child.

(f) The mental and physical health of the parents.

(g) The physical, developmental and emotional needs of the child.

(h) The nature of the relationship of the child with each parent.

(I) The ability of the child to maintain a relationship with any sibling.

(j) Any history of parental abuse or neglect of the child or a sibling of the child.

(k) Whether either parent or any other person seeking custody has engaged in an act of domestic violence against the child, a parent of the child or any other person residing with the child.

(l) Whether either parent or any other person seeking custody has committed any act of abduction against the child or any other child.

Overall, relocation cases can be some of the most difficult.  They are emotional and the non-moving “innocent” parent has a very sympathetic case.  These cases are difficult to settle, since they require one parent to have what he or she wants, and the other “loses”.  With that backdrop, be sure you do your homework on where your child will be at the end of the day, and be ready to prove the move is best for the child, not just for you.

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