Abstract: Ellis v. Carucci represents an evolution in Nevada’s child custody laws that should continue. Before Ellis, Nevada courts modified custody arrangements without explicitly considering the best interests of the child. Ellis cemented the legislative intent behind Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) § 125.4803 to make the child’s best interest the focus of the judge’s decision in custody cases. However, Ellis and NRS §125.480 are not enough to accomplish this overarching goal. The Nevada legislature should revise NRS § 125.480 so that the statute explicitly recognizes the instability and adjustments that children of divorce must endure. The statute should also be revised to identify factors that are not appropriate for consideration under the best interests standard and to provide for the possible use of a Court Appointed Special Advocate. Part I of this Note describes the historical development of Nevada’s child custody laws, from the early law in child custody to the contemporary law and the Ellis decision. Part II explains the principal case, Ellis v. Carucci. Part III analyzes the Nevada Supreme Court’s decision in Ellis v. Carucci. Part IV proposes a revision of NRS § 125.480. Part V analyzes the probable effects of the revisions suggested in Part IV. Finally, Part VI concludes the note suggesting that courts must analyze additional issues to properly focus on the child’s best interest in a custody modification decision.
Citation: 10 Nev. L. J. 763 (2010)