People frequently experience anger or inconvenience when they receive court documents. Perhaps you believe you and your ex have already reached a custody agreement, and therefore you are perplexed as to why they would file a custody case.

No matter how inconvenient or irritating receiving custody court paperwork may make you feel, do not disregard it. If you disregard these documents, a judge might unilaterally change the legal status of your child’s parent-child relationship. In addition, Huggins Law Office child custody attorneys explain what happens if you fail to respond to the child custody papers below.

What Are Child Custody Papers?

You must first become familiar with the fundamentals of the child custody case’s procedure to comprehend what occurs if you don’t react to child custody documents. A court’s determination of the physical and legal connection between a shared child’s parents occurs in a child custody dispute. The two main aspects of child custody are the right to make significant decisions about your child’s life and the amount of physical time you spend with them.

When one parent requests that the court intervene and formally create or amend a custody agreement, child custody papers are the court records submitted. Child custody issues are crucial to divorce if you and your child’s other parents are married. You may bring a custody action on your own if the co-parent of your child, and you never get married to one another.


Creating and submitting a petition for custody, including a proposed Permanent Parenting Plan Order to a juvenile court wherein the child resides, is how both mom and dad started a child custody case. If the child faces immediate danger, the custody documents may include an order of protection and an emergency custody order.

The other parent, who becomes the defendant (or respondent), must receive service of court documents and a summons from the parent who initiated the case, now referred to as the plaintiff. Detailed case logistics are disclosed in a summons, including:

  • The court location
  • When and where to file an answer
  • the time and date of any hearings.

The defendant cannot be served directly by the plaintiff. Usually, the defendant receives the documents from the local sheriff or a process server.


If the matter is a typical custody dispute, the defendant gets 30 days to respond. Instead, the court will set a first hearing date for each party to attend within 15 days following the emergency custody order if it is an order of protection.

Tips for Responding to Child Custody Papers

Here are some tips to help you respond:

  1. Read the court papers carefully: Ensure that you comprehend what is being asked of you and the timeline for your response. Take note of any deadlines or court dates.
  2. Get legal advice: Understanding your legal rights and options is essential. Consider speaking with a Las Vegas family law attorney who can provide guidance and represent you in court if necessary.
  3. Respond promptly: Respond to the custody papers quickly. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may need more time to respond. Failing to respond on time could result in a default judgment against you.
  4. Be honest: When responding to custody papers, be truthful and provide accurate information. Lying or misrepresenting the facts could harm your case.
  5. Focus on the child’s best interests: When deciding custody and visitation, the court will prioritize the child’s best interests. Remember this and try to make decisions in the child’s best interests.
  6. Keep emotions in check: Custody battles can be emotional, but staying calm and focused is essential. Avoid making inflammatory statements or getting into arguments with the other party.
  7. Keep good records: Keep track of all communication with the other party, including emails, texts, and phone calls. Also, keep records of any money expenses related to the child.
  8. Attend all court hearings: If your case goes to court, attend all the hearings. Be prepared to present evidence and answer questions.

Remember that responding to child custody papers can be a complex and challenging process. Feel free to seek legal advice and support to help you navigate the process.

Reasons why you should Respond to Child Custody Papers

Reasons why you should Respond to Child Custody Papers

If you have been served child custody papers, you must respond promptly and take the matter seriously. Here are some reasons why you should respond to child custody papers:

  1. Protect Your Rights: If you fail to respond to child custody papers, the court may issue a default judgment in favor of the spouse. That means the court will decide on custody without hearing your side of the story or considering your wishes. By responding to the papers, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that the court hears your perspective.
  2. Determine the Best Interests of the Child: The court’s primary concern in a child custody case is the child’s best interests. By responding to the papers, you can provide information about your relationship with the child, your ability to care for them, and any concerns about the other parent’s ability to provide a safe and stable environment.
  3. Avoid Default Judgments: If you fail to respond to the child’s custody papers, the court may issue a default judgment in favor of the other parent. It could result in an outcome, not in your or the child’s best interests. By responding to the papers, you can ensure that you are heard and that the court considers all relevant information.
  4. Negotiate a Custody Agreement: In some cases, responding to child custody papers can provide an opportunity to negotiate a custody agreement with the other parent. It can be a more amicable and cost-effective solution than going to court and having a judge decide for you.
  5. Avoid Contempt of Court: Failing to respond to child custody papers could result in the court holding you in contempt. It can result in fines, penalties, and even jail time. Responding to the papers can avoid this outcome and ensure you fulfill your legal obligations.

Responding to child custody papers is vital for protecting your rights, determining the child’s best interests, avoiding default judgments, negotiating a custody agreement, and avoiding contempt of court. It is essential to take these papers seriously and to respond promptly to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your child.

What Happens If You Don’t Respond to Child Custody Papers?

Not responding to child custody papers has serious consequences. A court may lawfully change your relationship with your child without your consent if you get custody papers and fail to respond within 30 days or appear at a court hearing. A judge will likely approve your ex’s child custody arrangement without you.

The plaintiff can submit a motion for a default judgment. The court will then schedule a hearing date. The defendant should also receive notice of the hearing.

The custody papers must be adequately served within the default hearing date, and the plaintiff must demonstrate this.

The court will then review the custody dispute and suggest a parenting plan to determine whether it is in the child’s best interest. Unless there are issues with the paperwork, the court will probably decide on a parenting plan and a binding and final custody order decree without consulting the defendant.

Impact To Your Child

How could this impact your child?

Child custody battles can be emotionally and mentally taxing for parents and children. If one parent fails to respond to child custody proceedings, it can significantly impact the child’s emotional and psychological well-being. Here are some potential consequences:

  • Anxiety and confusion: Children can experience anxiety and confusion when their parents are in a custody battle, especially if one parent fails to respond. They may wonder why the absent parent is not fighting for custody or why they are not present in their lives.
  • Feelings of abandonment: Not responding to custody proceedings can be interpreted by the child as abandonment by the parent. That can cause the child to feel rejected, unwanted, and unloved.
  • Lack of stability: A custody battle can cause instability in a child’s life, and if one parent does not respond, it can exacerbate the situation. This lack of stability can lead to problems in a child’s academic performance, social interactions, and emotional regulation.
  • Negative impact on the parent-child relationship: If one parent fails to respond to custody proceedings, it can damage the relationship. Children may feel resentful towards an absent parent and may struggle to trust them in the future.
  • Long-term effects: The impact of a custody battle and a parent’s failure to respond can have long-term effects on a child’s emotional and psychological well-being. Children may struggle with trust, abandonment, and attachment issues into adulthood.

If a parent does not respond to child custody proceedings, it can significantly impact a child’s emotional and psychological well-being. Parents need to prioritize their child’s well-being and work towards finding a solution that benefits the child.

What Can I Do After a Default Judgment?

Sadly, your alternatives are constrained if you don’t respond, and the court makes a default custody decision. According to Nevada law, a party may reverse or vacate a default custody order under specific, limited conditions.

If the side who failed to respond can demonstrate one of the following, the court may revisit the default judgment:

  • Fraud or mistake
  • The court lacked jurisdiction.
  • Newly acquired evidence.

One of the more popular strategies to challenge a default custody order is mistakes, sometimes known as excusable neglect. In general, you must demonstrate to the court that you have a valid excuse for your delay (such as illness, travel, or an error on the part of your attorney) and that you have a viable trial defense.

It is complicated to overturn a default ruling in a custody dispute, and it necessitates knowledge of the complexities of Nevada law, mainly how courts have ruled in comparable situations. You also need to hurry and immediately speak with an expert Nevada family law attorney to determine if you qualify for a motion to vacate a default decision.

Consult Our Attorneys for Your Child Custody Case

A prompt response is crucial if you have received a child custody order. Failure to respond can have serious consequences, such as loss of parental rights or being held in contempt of court. Don’t let this happen to you – consult with an experienced family law attorney at Huggins Law Office to protect your rights. Contact our lawyer now to discuss your options and take action to protect your relationship with your child.

For more details, questions, or want to know more information regarding our services that will help you with matters like child custody cases or child support, don’t hesitate to call us on our number at (702) 387-4014 or schedule an appointment or consultation with us.

For more information on how can help you on your Child Custody case, please contact us at (702) 387-4014, or visit us here:

Huggins Law Office’s

8683 W Sahara Ave #180, Las Vegas, NV 89117, United States

(702) 387-4014

Child Custody Lawyer Las Vegas