Few life events prove as stressful and disheartening as divorce. Although the vast majority of couples don’t expect to separate when they tie the knot, life is unpredictable. Divorce is painful for everyone in the relationship, including the children if the parties have any.
In Nevada, divorce laws are clear-cut, and the state has more relaxed standards for separation than other states. Nevada is a no-fault state, meaning either party can request a divorce without providing a specific reason. Nevada also has lower-than-normal residence requirements; one party only needs to have lived in the state for six weeks in order to file for divorce.
Requirements to File for Divorce
In Nevada, neither spouse has to prove that the other was at fault in order to request a divorce. If there is no chance of reconciliation, the divorcing party can use three grounds to file:
- Incompatibility, which means you and your spouse no longer get along;
- You and your spouse no longer live together and have resided in separate homes for more than a year; or
- Your spouse has been insane for at least two years prior to the filing of the divorce action.
If all conditions apply and there are no disagreements, the judge grants the divorce without delay. There is no mandatory waiting period.
To obtain a divorce you must have been a resident of Nevada for more than six weeks and have the intent to reside in the state indefinitely, and a witness must sign an affidavit stating that they have personal knowledge that you have been a resident of Nevada for the past six weeks. If you have children, they must have been residents of Nevada for at least six months prior to the filing for divorce in order for the court to make child custody orders.
Settlement of Divorce Issues
If you and your spouse agree on matters regarding finances, child custody, and property division, the judge will honor those wishes and enter an order memorializing the terms of your agreement.
Without this agreement, the court will issue temporary orders on issues such as community debts, property maintenance, attorneys fees and costs, spousal support, and custody and support of your children.
Division of Property
Any property earned or acquired during the marriage – except by will, gift, devise or as the result of a personal injury lawsuit – belongs to the community. Community property belongs to the parties equally. Therefore, if the parties do not reach an agreement on the division of their property on their own, the court will divide it equally between them, absent a compelling reason to make an unequal distribution.
Each party can keep what they already possessed before marriage (also known as a spouse’s “separate property”). Each person also has the right to retain individual gifts, inheritances, and personal property from personal injury settlement awards.
The court may make an unequal distribution of the community where it finds a compelling reason to do so. An example of a compelling reason could be where one spouse has committed fraud against the other spouse or waste resulting in diminished value of the community.
Child custody is of paramount concern in a divorce action. Judges in Nevada consider first and foremost the custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interest. There is no preference for giving custody to a mother over a father or vice versa.
The default child custody arrangement is joint custody of the child shared by both parents. If either spouse believes that this isn’t in the best interest of the child, they must say so in their Complaint for divorce and/or file a motion for custody and present evidence. In all custody-related cases, the court will order the couple to attend mediation before making a final custody decision.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement, they will put their cases on at trial and the judge will decide custody based on several factors that go to the child’s best interest.
Temporary Spousal Support/Alimony
After the divorce action is filed, the court may award temporary spousal support if the case will take some time to resolve and the parties are unequal financial footing in the divorce case. This award may be made in order to provide temporary maintenance for the poorer spouse, or to enable the spouse to carry on or defend his or her suit.
An award of alimony is made after a divorce and is long-term. Alimony is designed to lessen the economic effects of a divorce which are felt disproportionately by the spouse who was financially supported during the marriage. There is no set formula to determine spousal support, however judges can consider any factors it considers relevant to determining alimony, including:
- The financial condition of each spouse;
- The value and nature of each spouse’s property;
- The contribution of either spouse to the community;
- How long the parties have been married;
- Each spouse’s respective income, earning capacity, age, and health;
- The standard of living during the marriage;
- The career before the marriage of the spouse who would be receiving alimony;
- Whether either spouse underwent education and training or attained marketable skills during the marriage;
- The contribution of either spouse as a homemaker;
- The award of property granted by the court in the divorce to the parent who would receive alimony (other than child support and alimony); and
- The physical and mental condition of each party as it relates to his or her financial condition, health, and ability to work.
Modification of an alimony decision is possible if the income of the paying spouse changes by 20% or more.
Nevada law provides a schedule for determining a party’s child support obligation (see NAC 425). In a custody arrangement where one parent has primary custody, the non-custodial parent will be obligated to pay the custodial parent for the support of the child. In a joint physical custody arrangement, the higher-earning spouse will be required to pay the lower-earning spouse the difference between their respective child support obligations.
The parents’ child support obligation depends on the number of children at issue. For one child, each parent is obligated to pay 16 percent of the first $6,000 of her gross monthly income (GMI), 8 percent of her income between $6,000 and $10,000, and 4 percent of any amount of her GMI exceeding $10,000.
For two children each parent is obligated to pay 22 percent of the first $6,000 of her gross monthly income (GMI), 11 percent of her income between $6,000 and $10,000, and 6 percent of any amount of her GMI exceeding $10,000.
A party’s obligation can be adjusted downward or upward based upon any special educational needs the child has, the cost of transporting the child between households, the obligor’s ability to pay, and the value of services provided by either parent, among other factors.
Initial Steps for Filing a Divorce in Nevada
Filing for a divorce in Nevada is relatively simple. Even if your spouse is not present, you can proceed with your request for divorce without them.
Step 1: Fill Out the Forms
You must complete three mandatory forms to begin the divorce proceeding:.
- Civil Cover Sheet: This form provides general information about you, your spouse, and your children, if any.
- Summons: This form informs your spouse of your intent to divorce him/her. The summons notifies the other spouse that they are required to submit a response to the Complaint within 21 days, or else you may receive a default and be awarded everything you request in your Complaint.
- Divorce Complaint: This form tells the court and your spouse what you want regarding custody, temporary child and/or spousal support, property division, debt, alimony, and name changes. This form opens the divorce case.
Step 2: File the Forms
Once you complete all the forms, you must file them with the court. There is a filing fee. If you cannot afford the charge, you should fill out a form and order for waiver and the court may waive the filing fee.
Step 3: Serve your Spouse the Divorce Papers
It is your responsibility as the plaintiff to coordinate the service of divorce papers upon your spouse within 120 days. You cannot serve the documents to your spouse yourself unless your spouse consents to accepting service this way.
The defendant must receive the papers in-hand. A neutral party over the age of 18 can deliver these documents on your behalf. A partner of the plaintiff outside of the marriage does not count as a neutral third party. You can pay a private company to accomplish service.
How Long Will the Process Take?
Several factors can determine the length of the divorce process. For example, the divorce will move more quickly if there are no child custody issues, or if the parties have few assets.
Factors that could complicate and lengthen the case include disputed child custody issues, many assets that need to be divided, and the parties’ ability to cooperate to resolve their divorce. The more the couple disagrees and insists on fighting over custody, property division, and alimony, the longer their divorce will take to finalize. An uncontested divorce takes much less time.
Settling Your Divorce
Two spouses’ reaching a mutual understanding is by far the quickest way to end a marriage. In this case, both spouses agree on terms that concern their children, assets, finances, and debts. Even where the parties cannot agree on all issues, the case will be shortened if they can resolve some or most of their issues without the Court’s intervention.
If the parties reach an agreement on all or most issues, the judge will review the terms of the agreement and will usually sign the agreement and enter it as an order, so long as, if child custody is involved, the terms are in the children’s best interests.
When a couple agrees on the divorce terms, they may file for a joint, uncontested divorce. They both must detail their specific agreements on certain issues before the court grants the divorce. These issues include:
- Child custody: The parents must include an agreement as to both legal and physical custody. The parents of a child can determine how they would like to split custody. Agreeing on child custody will significantly expedite the divorce process in court.
- Child support: The parties must calculate their respective child support obligations under NAC 425 and determine which parent, if either, shall pay child support to the other. The parties may expressly waive child support after they have detailed the calculation.
- Child expenses and insurance: Agreeing on how to divide the children’s school, extracurricular, and uninsured medical expenses as well as who will provide insurance coverage for the child will also accelerate the divorce process considerably.
- Division of community property: Although the default is to split the community property equally between the spouses, some couples agree to a different approach. Spouses can come to a mutual understanding as to who needs what property and can list out the specific asset/account each person will keep.
- Division of community debt: Similar to dividing community assets, the couple can agree on how they will pay off their accumulated debt.
- Alimony: If the couple agrees on a monthly alimony payment based on the factors set forth above, they do not have to rely on the court to determine the alimony amount.
- Name change: If either party changed their name upon marriage and wishes to change their name back to what it was prior to divorce, they must explain what their new name will be in the joint petition.
Keep in mind that any agreement you make with your spouse is subject to change later on, depending on new circumstances that arise. If this happens for you, call our legal experts at McFarling Law Group. We review the terms of your settlement agreement, inform you of your legal options, and give you advice on how to move forward.
What to Expect when Deciding for a Divorce
Although obtaining a divorce is relatively straightforward, ending a relationship is rarely easy.
Divorces often have repercussions that last for years. Every case is unique, and you may face a series of changes after your divorce that affect the agreements or orders made in court.
Legal representation during this turbulent time is paramount. A reliable lawyer will make sure all of your bases are covered, even in an amicable divorce. If you and your spouse plan to negotiate your own terms for divorce, one of the expert divorce lawyers at McFarling Law Group can help you preserve your rights.
If your divorce case becomes especially complicated or even just emotionally challenging, hiring an expert lawyer with thorough knowledge of divorce law in Nevada will help you clarify the issues and achieve the outcome you desire in your case. We represent you at a time when you need sound advice to move forward with your life confidently.