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Balancing Legal Custody- When Something Needs to be Shared

In Nevada, there are two types of custody- legal and physical. Physical custody is about the timeshare whereas legal custody is about decision making for the child. We are going to focus on legal custody, but there are other blogs available on our website that address physical custody.

Pursuant to the holding in Rivero v. Rivero, 125 Nev. 410, 216 P.3d 213 (2009), “Legal custody involves having basic legal responsibility for a child and making major decisions regarding the child, including the child's health, education, and religious upbringing.” The Supreme Court goes on to explain that sole legal custody means one parent makes all decisions and in a joint legal custody situation the parents make decisions together. “Joint legal custody requires that the parents be able to cooperate, communicate, and compromise to act in the best interest of the child.” Id.

Since sole legal custody vests all decision making with one parent, we are going to focus on joint legal custody issues related specifically to health, education and religion.


An appointment is scheduled for the child to receive any sort of medical treatment including, but not limited to, pediatric, therapeutic, dental. At the time of scheduling, the parent scheduling is supposed to notify the other parent of the date, time and reason for the appointment. This gives both parents the opportunity to be at the appointment so any questions about the service to be rendered by the provider can be answered.

If the child needs to be seen in urgent care or the emergency room, the parent who has the child should notify the other parent on the way to the urgent care or emergency room if it safe to do so. If it is not safe to do so, the other parent should be notified upon arriving at the location.

What about the situation of child vaccinations? The child was always vaccinated during the relationship so do you need to talk to the other parent? Yes, you need to agree in advance of vaccination that the child will receive the vaccine.

If any documents are received from the medical provider without a duplicate being provided to the other parent simultaneously, a copy should be sent through electronic means (examples might include a parenting application, email, text).

If a parent cannot attend the appointment for whatever reason, written follow up should be sent on the same day that the appointment occurred.

If a child is on medication, always communicate with the other parent the last time medication was given regardless of whether it was over the counter or prescription. Brief information such as the name of the health care provider that prescribed the medication, the proper dosage, the frequency of the dosage and the purpose of the medication should be exchanged as well.


It’s time for your child to enter school. Who gets to make the choice about what school the child will attend? In a joint legal custody arrangement, the parents have to agree. What happens if parents can’t agree? Someone has to file a Motion for the Court to be able to apply the appropriate factors as determined by the Supreme court and then the Judge will make the decision over the objection of the other parent.


It’s your timeshare and you want to attend an event at church. This does not require permission or notification to the other parent.

It’s your timeshare and you want the child to attend service, it does not require permission or notification to the other parent.

You want the child to become a member of the church. That is an issue that requires both parents to communicate and cooperate to decide if it is appropriate for the child. Remember, you’re not telling your co-parent, you are inquiring regarding whether it would be agreeable. Phrasing communication is extremely important.

In the event that parents cannot agree on joint legal custody issues, then it will be necessary to file a Motion to have the Court rule on the issue. This should be the exception and not the rule.