Question asked on Feb. 12, 2020
Q: I Have had sole custody of my daughter for 3 1/2 years. Initially, my ex and I were 50/50, but he had to go to rehab so I made an addendum to our custody agreement and took custody. He ended up moving to Texas and hasn’t paid a dime since leaving. I waited because I wanted to give him the chance to get on his feet but also wanted to get to a better place so we could discuss this outside of the courtroom and come to an agreement. Based on a recent conversation that isn’t going to happen. My question is how long would a case like this take? On average how much will I be spending? He doesn’t have the means for a great lawyer so I expect it to be pretty cut and dry. My other worry is can he change the custody agreement when he walked out over three years ago and lives out of state? I appreciate any advice! Thank you!!
A: There are two basic choices — you can go through the D.A., which is free, and can work interstate for enforcement, but is notoriously slow and inefficient. Or you can hire private counsel, which is typically much faster, but costs money, and could require hiring a lawyer in the original state to reduce arrears to judgment, and then a lawyer in Texas to seek enforcement. Custody can be brought up at any time, but he would have a hard time convincing the court on the facts you assert that there is a good reason to do so, although courts will always encourage both parents to have a relationship with their child, if possible.
If you cannot afford counsel, the local Pro Bono provider is the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, which can be called at 702-386-1070 (or see their information on the web at https://www.lacsnprobono.org/). Those that take pro bono cases take them after they have been screened, and assigned, by Legal Aid. The Reduced Fee Panel sponsored by the State Bar can be reached at 702-382-2200. Additionally, there are free consultations offered on Thursdays at the self-help center; volunteer attorneys provide 15-minute consultations, for free, on family law questions. For those that wish to attempt self-representation, forms are available at the Clark County self-help center website, at http://www.familylawselfhelpcenter.org/.