Parents have a right to a relationship with their children. But what happens when one parent wrongfully keeps a child away from the other parent?
In Nevada, abduction is the “wrongful removal or wrongful retention of a child." Abduction harms a parent's relationship with their child. The abductor parent can face serious civil and criminal consequences. In some instances, there are exceptions when a parent acts to protect their child from imminent harm or abuse. It is important to understand how a court order impacts your rights and responsibilities as a parent.
An experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a parent. Anthem Divorce Lawyers have over 25 years of experience. Contact us today for a consultation.
Nevada Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act
Nevada has adopted the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act, codified in Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 125D.
In a child custody proceeding, the court may order abduction prevention measures. Under NRS 125D.150, the court must find that “the evidence establishes a credible risk of abduction of the child." The district attorney “may seek a warrant to take physical custody of a child pursuant to NRS 125D.200."
The court will consider evidence in determining whether there is a credible risk of abduction of a child. Below lists some of the evidence the court considers under NRS 125D.180. Under NRS 125D.180(1) the court shall consider any evidence that the petitioner or respondent:
- Previously abducted or attempted to abduct the child.
- Threatened to abduct the child.
- Engaged in domestic violence, stalking, or child abuse or neglect.
- Refused to follow a child custody determination.
- Has recently engaged in activities that may indicate a planned abduction, including:
- Abandoning employment;
- Selling a primary residence;
- Terminating a lease;
- Closing bank or other financial management accounts, liquidating assets, hiding or destroying financial documents, or conducting any unusual financial activities;
- Applying for a passport or visa or obtaining travel documents for the respondent, a family member or the child; or
- Seeking to obtain the child’s birth certificate or school or medical records.
Hague Abduction Convention
The Nevada courts are aware of the risk of international abduction. The United States is party to the Hague Abduction Convention. The purposes of the Hague Abduction Convention are to “protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent by encouraging the prompt return of abducted children to their country of habitual residence, and to organize or secure the effective rights of access to a child."
NRS 125D.180(1) has several factors that take into consideration the risk of international abduction and the Hague Abduction Convention. Listed below are some (not all) of the factors. Under NRS 125D.180(1) the court shall consider any evidence that the petitioner or respondent:
- Lacks strong familial, financial, emotional or cultural ties to the State or the United States.
- Is undergoing a change in immigration or citizenship status that would adversely affect the respondent’s ability to remain in the United States legally.
- Is likely to take the child to a country that:
- Is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and does not provide for the extradition of an abducting parent or for the return of an abducted child.
Avoid Imminent Harm
Under NRS 125D.180(2), the court shall consider any evidence that “the respondent believed in good faith that the respondent’s conduct was necessary to avoid imminent harm to the child or respondent." The court will not issue an abduction prevention order if the court finds that “the respondent’s conduct is intended to avoid imminent harm to the child or respondent."
Abduction Prevention Order
Pursuant to NRS 125D.190(2), if the court “finds a credible risk of abduction of the child, the court shall enter an abduction prevention order." The abduction prevention order must:
- Include measures and conditions “reasonably calculated to prevent abduction of the child."
- Give “due consideration to the custody and visitation rights of the parties."
The court shall consider the:
- Age of the child.
- Potential harm to the child from an abduction.
- Legal and practical difficulties of returning the child to the jurisdiction if abducted.
- Reasons for the potential abduction, including evidence of domestic violence, stalking, or child abuse or neglect.
NRS 125D.190(2) provides that, to prevent imminent abduction of a child, a court may:
- Issue a warrant to take physical custody of the child pursuant to NRS 125D.200 or the law of Nevada other than this chapter;
- Direct the use of law enforcement to take any action reasonably necessary to locate the child, obtain return of the child or enforce a custody determination pursuant to the provisions of this chapter or the law of this State other than this chapter; or
- Grant any other relief allowed pursuant to the law of Nevada other than this chapter.
A law enforcement officer is required to take a child into protective custody if the child is in danger of being removed from the jurisdiction. NRS 200.357 provides that:
- A law enforcement officer who is conducting an investigation or making an arrest concerning the abduction of a child shall take the child into protective custody if the law enforcement officer reasonably believes that the child is in danger of being removed from the jurisdiction.
If you have concerns about child custody or abduction, contact an experienced lawyer. Anthem Divorce Lawyers have over 25 years of experience. Contact us today for a consultation.
In Nevada, it is a crime to detain, conceal, or remove a child without the lawful right to do so. Once there is a custody order, or any order involving children, parents must abide by that order. NRS 200.359 provides criminal penalties for parents who violate custody orders, including parents with joint or primary custody. Only a portion of NRS 200.359 is provided below. There are additional subsections that apply to different situations.
NRS 200.359(1) provides:
- A person having a limited right of custody to a child by operation of law or pursuant to an order, judgment or decree of any court, including a judgment or decree which grants another person rights to custody or visitation of the child, or any parent having no right of custody to the child, who:
(a) In violation of an order, judgment or decree of any court willfully detains, conceals or removes the child from a parent, guardian or other person having lawful custody or a right of visitation of the child; or
(b) In the case of an order, judgment or decree of any court that does not specify when the right to physical custody or visitation is to be exercised, removes the child from the jurisdiction of the court without the consent of either the court or all persons who have the right to custody or visitation, is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
There are exceptions for parents who act to protect their child from the imminent danger of abuse or neglect. The exception applies if the parent acts to protect himself or herself from imminent physical harm. The parent must report their actions to an appropriate agency within 24 hours or as soon as the circumstances allow.
Child custody orders are serious legal documents that can affect your legal rights. If you have questions about a child custody order, contact an experienced lawyer.
Child custody and abduction issues are complex. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate this difficult process. The team at Anthem Divorce Lawyers has the experience and knowledge necessary to assist you in child custody matters. Contact us today for a consultation.