If you want to get the court's help with paternity, custody, visitation, child support, and DNA test matters, you can file a child custody/paternity case. There are certain forms you must fill out and file with the court to open a case. Instructions and form you will need are here. 

The information in this section only applies to unmarried parents who do not already have a custody order. If you are married, child custody matters will be decided as part of a divorce, separation, or annulment. Please visit one of those sections to learn how to file the proper papers. 



Make sure you understand the basic concepts before filling out your papers. Visit the Custody & Paternity Overview page for more information.  

Follow these steps to file a custody case: 

Copy bw 1. Fill out the forms. There are 3 forms you have to fill out. 

Clerk bw 2. File the forms. Turn in the forms to the District Court. 

Personal service bw 3. Serve Defendant. You must have a neutral person hand-deliver a copy of the filed forms to Defendant. 



Copy bw Step 1. Complete the Papers

To open a case, you will need to file all of the forms below:

Cover Sheet

This form is REQUIRED.  This form asks for basic information about you, the other parent, and the children that you have together. You are the Plaintiff and the other parent is the Defendant.  

Family Cover Sheet (pdf fillable)



This form is REQUIRED.  This form tells the Defendant that you have filed for custody or paternity. The form also tells the Defendant that he or she must file a response within 21 days, or a default may be entered against them. 

Summons (pdf fillable)

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Complaint for Custody / Paternity

This form is REQUIRED.  The complaint tells the judge and the other parent what kind of orders you want.  You are the Plaintiff and the other party is the Defendant.  The complaint allows you to put together a proposal for what custody, visitation, and child support orders you want. You can also indicate if a DNA test is needed to confirm the father of the child.  You will check boxes and fill in blanks to tell the judge and the other parent things like:

    • Whether paternity is disputed or not;
    • What kind of legal custody orders you would like;
    • What kind of physical custody orders you would like;
    • Your proposed visitation schedule;
    • How much child support should be ordered; and
    • Which parent should provide insurance for the children. 

Be sure to fill out all of the sections. If you leave something blank, the judge will not know what you are asking for, and it may slow down your case.

Complaint for Custody / Paternity (pdf fillable)

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Clerk bw Step 2. File the Papers

After you fill out the papers above, you will need to file them with the district court in your county.  Visit Find My Court if you are not sure where your local district court is located.

The court will charge you a filing fee to file your papers.  The fee is different in every county.  Find out from your local court what the filing fee will be. 

If you cannot afford the filing fee, please see Filing Fees and Waivers to find out how to ask the court to waive the fee.


Personal service bw Next Step: Serve the Defendant

After you complete the steps on this page, a copy of the summons and complaint (and anything else you filed) must be hand-delivered to the other parent (the “Defendant”). The Court does not serve the papers for you.  It is up to YOU to make sure the other parent gets served after you file for custody.  After you have completed the steps on this page, learn all about how to have the other parent served by visiting the Serving the Custody Papers page.


The Court does not serve the papers for you.  If you do not make sure the Defendant is properly served, your case could be dismissed.  

About This Website

This website is intended to provide general information, forms, and resources for people who are representing themselves in Nevada's courts without a lawyer. There may be additional information you need to know depending on where your case is being handled. If you will be representing yourself in Clark County or Washoe County, you should visit those self-help websites for specialized forms and instructions.

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