Can Grandparents or Third-Parties Seek Custody?


In Nevada, grandparents and third parties can seek custody of a child under specific circumstances, primarily when it is deemed in the best interest of the child. This legal provision allows for intervention when parents are unfit due to issues such as substance abuse, neglect, or incapacity, or when there is a substantial and beneficial pre-existing relationship between the child and the third party.

The process involves filing a petition, providing convincing evidence of the child’s betterment through the proposed custody change, and a thorough court review that considers the child’s needs, the existing familial relationships, and the overall impact on the child’s welfare.Such cases require demonstrating that the alternative custody arrangement significantly outweighs the current situation, with the child’s best interests always at the forefront of considerations.


Key Takeaways

  • Eligibility for Custody: Grandparents and third parties can seek custody if they demonstrate that it is in the child’s best interests.
  • Circumstances for Consideration: This includes situations where the parents are deemed unfit or unable to care for the child.
  • Legal Requirements: Petitioners must provide substantial evidence that changing the child’s custody would benefit the child’s welfare.


Grounds for Custody by Grandparents or Third Parties

Grandparents and other third parties may be granted custody under certain conditions:

  • Parental Unfitness: If biological parents are unfit due to reasons like substance abuse, neglect, or incapacity.
  • Existing Relationship: There must be a significant and positive pre-existing relationship between the child and the grandparent or third party.
  • Child’s Best Interests: The change in custody must clearly serve the child’s best interests, considering their health, safety, and emotional well-being.


Process for Seeking Custody

The procedure for third parties or grandparents to seek custody includes:

  • Filing a Petition: Initiating the process requires filing a legal petition in family court.
  • Providing Evidence: Demonstrating substantial reasons for the custody change, such as evidence of a strong bond with the child and the inadequacy of the child’s current environment.
  • Court Evaluation: The court assesses the petition based on the child’s needs, the petitioner’s ability to fulfill those needs, and the overall impact on the child’s welfare.


Factors Considered by the Court

The court considers several factors when determining custody to a non-parent:

  • Child’s Needs: The primary focus is on the child’s physical and psychological needs and which party can best fulfill those needs.
  • Relationship Dynamics: The quality of the existing relationship between the child and the third party or grandparent.
  • Parental Capability: The ability of the biological parents to care for the child, including their mental, emotional, and physical health.
  • Child’s Preference: Depending on the age and maturity of the child, their preference may also be considered.


Challenges in Gaining Custody

  • Overcoming Presumptions: There is a strong legal presumption in favor of the biological parents’ rights to custody.
  • Proving Best Interest: The burden of proof lies heavily on the third party or grandparent to show that the custody change is in the best interest of the child.
  • Legal and Emotional Complexities: The process can be legally complex and emotionally taxing for all parties involved.



In Nevada, grandparents and third parties have the potential to seek custody of a child under specific circumstances that justify such a change is in the child’s best interests. The process requires substantial evidence and careful legal navigation to demonstrate that the proposed custody arrangement would significantly benefit the child’s welfare. This ensures that the child’s needs are prioritally considered and met.

Third Party Custody FAQ's

Can grandparents seek custody of their grandchildren in Nevada?
Yes, grandparents can seek custody if they prove it’s in the best interests of the child, particularly if the parents are unfit or unable to care for the child.

What must grandparents prove to obtain custody in Nevada?
Grandparents must demonstrate that the child’s parents are unfit, and that granting custody to the grandparents would be in the best interest of the child.

Under what conditions can third parties seek custody of a child in Nevada?
Third parties, including relatives or close family friends, can seek custody if they have a significant and longstanding relationship with the child and can prove it’s in the child’s best interest to be in their care.

How does a court determine if granting custody to a grandparent is in the best interest of the child?
Courts consider the child’s needs, the grandparent’s ability to provide a stable environment, the strength of the bond between the child and the grandparent, and any potential harm in changing the child’s living arrangements.

Can third parties be granted visitation rights in Nevada?
Yes, third parties like grandparents can be granted visitation rights if they can demonstrate that such visits would be in the best interests of the child and not detrimental to the child’s primary relationship with their parents.

What is a ‘significant change in circumstances’ for modifying custody to a third party in Nevada?
A significant change might include deterioration in the parent’s ability to care for the child due to health issues, substance abuse, or changes in living conditions that could negatively affect the child.

Does the child’s preference influence custody decisions involving third parties in Nevada?
Yes, a child’s preference can influence decisions, especially if the child is of sufficient age and maturity to express a reasoned choice.

What legal protections do parents have against third-party custody claims in Nevada?
Parents are generally presumed to be the best caregivers for their children. Third parties must provide substantial evidence to overcome this presumption and prove that custody by the parent would be detrimental to the child.

Can grandparents obtain emergency custody in Nevada?
Grandparents can obtain emergency custody if they can demonstrate that the child is in immediate danger or suffering from neglect under the parents’ care.

How long does the process take for a grandparent or third party to be granted custody in Nevada?
The duration can vary based on the complexity of the case, the court’s schedule, and whether the case involves contested or uncontested claims.

If you need help from a Pahrump custody attorney, call 775 539 0000 or contact us online to discuss your options with our team.