How to Change Custody, Child Support, or Relocate with a Child
Parties may need to ask to change a court order, especially if they have children whose needs change over time. If you and the other party 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.
Changes that Can Be Made to the Court Order (and the Legal Standards!)
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. You must prove that it is in the best interest of the child to change custody AND that there has been a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child since the last custody order.
- 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 ability to maintain a relationship with the child. If the other parent will not agree to the move, the parent must ask the judge for permission to 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 and that there has been a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child since the last custody order.
- 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. Currently, there is not a self-help form on this website for this kind of issue.
- 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. Visit How to Set Aside an Order for forms and instructions.
Follow the steps below to file a motion to change a court order:
1. Fill out the forms. There are 1 or 2 forms you will have to fill out.
2. File the forms. Turn in the completed forms to the Clerk of Court.
3. Serve the other party. You have to send the filed forms to the other party.
To get a motion filed, you will have to file a motion and probably a financial disclosure form. Each of the forms and explanations are below.
Financial Disclosure Form
This form is required if you are asking to change any financial orders, such as child support. You must attach your three most recent paystubs to this form.
Be sure to read the descriptions above to learn the legal standards you must meet if you want to file one of these motions.
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.
After you fill out the papers above, you will need to file them with the same district court where your case was filed. Visit Find My Court if you are not sure where to find the district court.
The court will charge you a filing fee to file your papers. The fee is different in every county. Find out from the 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.
THIS STEP IS VERY IMPORTANT! If you do not follow this step properly, the judge may deny your motion! 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 the other party, or, if the other party is represented by an attorney, the documents must be served on the attorney. This is to make sure the other party knows about your request and has a chance to respond to your papers.
How to Serve the Papers:
You must 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).
Once you serve the documents, you must fill out a Certificate of Mailing that states when, where, and how you served the documents. File the Certificate of Mailing with the court.
You can find answers to common questions about service on the Frequently Asked Questions: Service page.
The judge will give the other party some time to file a response. If you the other party files an opposition that you would like to respond to, you can file a "Reply to Opposition" if there are issues raised that you want to address.
Once your reply is filed (or the time for the other party to file an opposition has passed), you need to let the judge know the case is ready for review. You do this by filling out a "Request for Submission," which lets the judge know it is time to review the papers and make a decision. Fill out the form at file it at the court.
The judge will then read through the paperwork submitted by both parties. The judge may set a hearing if the judge feels it would be helpful to ask the parties some questions in person.
The judge will make a decision about the issues raised in the motion, opposition, and reply. You will receive an "order" that outlines everything the judge decided. Obey the terms of the order. If you do not, you could be held in contempt for refusing to comply.