Primary physical custody in Nevada occurs when one parent cares for the child most of the time. While both parents may be established as legal parents with legal rights, in a primary physical custody situation, one parent does significantly more of the day-to-day care than the other parent.

Nevada law 125C.0025 defines primary physical custody in Nevada and states the situations when the courts may award it. Our Las Vegas attorneys for child custody explain.

What Is Primary Physical Custody in Nevada?

Primary physical custody in Nevada is where one parent provides the majority of the hands-on, day-to-day parenting for the child. A parent who has primary physical custody is the parent who is usually responsible for the direct care of the child. In Nevada, a parent has primary physical custody when they have physical custody 61% of the time or more. Primary physical custody in Nevada is where a parent cares for the child at least 223 days of the year.

What Does It Mean to Have Primary Physical Custody?

To have primary physical custody means to be the parent who is in charge of everyday care most of the time. During the time that a parent has physical custody of the child, that parent makes routine decisions for the child. That includes things like what to wear, what to do, and basic discipline.

Having primary physical custody does not necessarily mean having the sole right to make big decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as choosing a school, a religion, and major medical care. Despite one parent having primary physical custody, if the parents have joint legal custody, both parents get to have an equal say in those decisions. Having primary physical custody simply means being the one to provide direct care and to make routine decisions, 61% or more of the time.

Nevada Primary Physical Custody Law – NRS 125C.0025

Nevada Revised Statutes 125C.0025 is the Nevada primary custody law and the Nevada joint custody law.[1] NRS 125C.0025 says that the court should begin by considering joint custody in cases where the parents agree to joint custody or when both parents have tried to establish a meaningful relationship with the child. However, under Nevada law 125C.003, the court may award primary physical custody to one parent if the court decides that joint custody is not in the best interests of the child.[2]

Is Primary Custody the Same as Sole Physical Custody?

Primary custody is the same as sole physical custody. Even when a parent has sole physical custody, it’s unusual for the other parent not to have at least some parenting time with the child. A parent may have sole physical custody even if the other parent exercises substantial parenting time. Sole physical custody gives the parent the right to make the daily decisions for the child.

However, primary custody is not the same thing as sole physical custody when it relates to primary legal custody. A parent may have sole physical custody when the parents have joint legal custody. However, it’s possible for one parent to have both sole physical custody and sole legal custody. It’s uncommon for a parent to have primary physical custody without having at least joint legal custody.

Mom With Child Custody

How Is Primary Custody Determined in Nevada?

Primary custody is determined in Nevada by applying Nevada custody laws NRS 125C.0025 and NRS 125C.003. First, the court reviews the laws and decides if joint custody is appropriate. The court awards joint custody if the parties agree to it, or if both parties have tried to establish a meaningful relationship with the child. If one parent frustrates the other parent’s efforts to have a parent-child relationship, that parent has still made sufficient attempts to establish a relationship with their child. Nevada law says that it’s not in the best interests of the child to award joint physical custody if a parent has a history of domestic violence or if a parent can’t adequately care for the child 146 days a year or more.

Beyond these considerations, there are several factors that the court considers to decide custody in Nevada. The court looks at things like the physical and emotional needs of the child. The health of the parents and the level of conflict between the parents are also considerations. It’s the responsibility of each party to present evidence to the court to support what they’re asking the court to award. The court may also order its own investigation.

Primary Physical Custody and Child Support

Primary physical custody means that child support is determined based on the gross income of the paying parent. The parent with primary custody receives child support based on what the other parent makes. The paying parent pays a percentage of their income. The more children the parents have in common, the higher the percentage. There is no offset for child support in Nevada in primary physical custody situations. Primary physical custody and child support means that the paying parent owes the full amount of child support to the parent with primary physical custody.

What Parents Need to Know About Primary Physical Custody

As a parent, you need to know that primary physical custody is not automatic. If you want primary custody or joint custody, you need to ask the court for it and provide evidence about why your request is in the best interests of the child.

The evidence that you provide should be related to the factors listed in the Nevada custody laws. It’s important to remember that, once custody is established, the courts are reluctant to change it. If you’re involved in a current custody case, it’s critical to take it seriously and presume that it is your opportunity to address the court.

Contact Our Affordable Las Vegas Lawyers for Child Custody

Do you need to fight a case involving primary physical custody? Are you involved in a custody matter? Let our affordable Las Vegas lawyers for primary physical custody help. Call us today to talk about your case.


[1] NRS 125C.0025

[2] NRS 125C.003

About the Author

Mark Coburn, Esq.

Mark Coburn is a dedicated and experienced defense attorney serving the Southern Nevada area. His passion for the law and commitment to his clients has made him one of the most prominent defense attorneys in Nevada. If you’re in need of a defense attorney, contact Mark Coburn for a free consultation on your case.