You want pizza for dinner. You pick up your phone, order one, and in less than thirty minutes, it arrives at your house. You dive right in, and it’s exactly what you wanted—but then—you realize midway through that, even though it was great pizza, you don’t want to finish it.
This is a massive oversimplification, but marriage can be like that pizza. You did want to be married, and you loved it at first, but something happened, and now you want a divorce.
The truth is that divorces can be confusing and stressful. Here’s an overview of what to expect, but it is always best to get expert advice. For highly-skilled representation, please contact McFarling Law Group at 702-766-6671 to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our Las Vegas attorneys.
What is the Process of Going Through a Divorce?
Just as every marriage is different, so too does every divorce play out differently. Luckily, the process in Nevada is relatively easy compared to other states. Most divorces boil down to three steps.
Step 1: File a Complaint
To get the ball rolling on divorce proceedings, you must file a complaint that sets out what you want from the divorce. That could be anything from child custody to alimony or specific asset division. Nevada does not require these things to be spelled out in detail in the complaint, although they can be.
Step 2: Temporary Orders
If there are issues that need to be resolved by a judge to determine what happens while the divorce case is pending, either party can file a motion for temporary orders. These are orders for things such as custody, visitation, child support, spousal support. After a party files a motion, it is heard by the judge about a month later. These order remain in effect until there are final divorce orders unless modified by other temporary orders.
Step 3: Mediating a Settlement
Next, if there is a chance of resolving this out of court, you can hire a professional mediator to help you find a settlement that suits you both. The Court will require all child custody and visitation issues to be mediated through the Family Mediation Center at the courthouse, but all issues can be resolved through private mediation.
Step 4: Discovery
In order to ensure that the parties and judge have all the information needed to make appropriate decisions for orders or settlement, both parties are required to disclose extensive information and documents to the other party. There is a period of time allowed for this with required disclosures and where both parties can ask for additional information and documents from the other party and from third parties. They can also conduct depositions of the other party and third parties.
Step 5: A Civil Trial
If the case does not settle, you will eventually move on to the final stage, a civil trial. A judge will review everything from finances to custody and make decisions on all issues.
You or your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can file an appeal if necessary, but unless reversed on appeal or set aside, the decisions from a trial are final. You become divorced when there is a file stamped decree of divorce.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Divorced?
There is no fixed price for a divorce. However, the general rule of thumb is that the quicker the process, the cheaper it will be.
In more amicable divorces, the costs are limited to negotiations, drafting, and filing fees.
However, if you can’t agree before filing a complaint, then the expenses start to mount. Each step of the process increases the total cost, from temporary orders, through discovery, to trial. If the divorce goes right through to the trial phase, you should be prepared for costs to increase significantly.
What is a No-Fault Divorce?
For a long time, one party had to have done something wrong for a marriage to be dissolved—but sometimes marriages just come to an end, and no one is to blame. That’s where no-fault divorces come in.
No-fault divorces make up all divorces in Nevada. They don’t require you to state any wrongdoing by your spouse. Whether they have broken their vows or the spark is just gone, you don’t need to specify why you are seeking the divorce.
Choosing this route doesn’t necessarily mean that the divorce will be easy. Even in no-fault divorces, things don’t always go as expected. It is also worth bearing in mind that fault can still legally be brought up if the divorce makes it to trial.
It’s not uncommon for couples to start the divorce process amicably and find that changes once the process of separating assets and deciding custody or alimony begins to come into play. That’s when couples often start looking for leverage.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
If you both agree on all issues, you can file for an uncontested divorce. These make for the cleanest divorces as you can skip discovery and trial.
There are no waiting periods and the divorce can be finalized as quickly as each person involved completes their part, from the parties negotiating and the attorneys drafting, to the judge signing off. The main benefit of an uncontested divorce is how quickly they can be over. If both sides agree to the initial terms, the whole process can be complete in less than a month. This timeline stands in stark contrast to contested divorces that can sometimes last years.
It is important to remember that uncontested divorces often go hand-in-hand with compromise. You should take the time to think about what you want before filing the initial complaint. If you know that your spouse will want to hold on to certain assets that you aren’t particularly bothered about keeping, then it’s best not to ask for them.
Do I Have to Go to Court?
Another benefit of uncontested divorces is that you can avoid attending court altogether. After filing the documentation with the court, the judge will review to make sure all administrative requirements have been met and if they do, sign off. In uncontested divorces, everything is done through paperwork. The Parties never need to appear in court.
Do I Have to Pay Alimony in a Divorce?
While a divorce will put an end to your marriage, it won’t necessarily sever ties between you and your ex. One spouse will usually have to pay alimony. Now, depending on who you are, this word will have different connotations.
No matter your feelings on the subject, alimony is part of ensuring a fair split of assets. Your first question might be – what is alimony? That question is more complicated than it seems. There are five kinds:
- Temporary spousal support is paid during the divorce proceedings.
- Lump-sum support is a one-time-only payment once the divorce is finalized.
- Periodic alimony involves, as the name implies, periodic payments (usually monthly) for a set period.
- Rehabilitative support entails payments for training or education that help a spouse to become financially independent.
- Permanent alimony consists of periodic payments with no specific end date (generally until one party dies or remarries).
The next thing you need to know is who will pay the alimony. The simple answer is the more financially independent half of the marriage. If you have spent the marriage raising the children while your spouse has gone out to work, then it is probable that you will be on the receiving end.
However, if you have considerably more personal assets or have worked but have earned a lot more than your spouse, you may still have to pay alimony. In divorces where it comes down to a judge deciding on alimony payments, there are several factors they will take into consideration:
- The size of each of the spouse’s estates
- The current financial condition of each spouse
- How long the marriage lasted
- Each spouse’s financial situation before the marriage
- The contribution each spouse made in the home
- Education and earning potentials of each spouse
The main aim is to determine how much money the party receiving alimony will need to maintain their current lifestyle outside of the marriage.
Who Receives Custody of the Children in a Divorce?
Divorce is often hardest on children. This phrase is said so often that it has entered the realm of cliché—but it is a cliché because it’s true. The children will have little choice over what is happening and may end up seeing one of their parents less than the other.
It’s crucial to understand what your rights are when going into a divorce to avoid uncertainty. Whether you are a millionaire or just getting by, your children will undoubtedly be more important than any of your assets.
Under Nevada law, there are two types of child custody.
- Parents with physical custody will have the child living with them for at least part of the time. Parents who look after the child for at least 60% of the year (roughly 219 days) have primary physical custody. If the child lives with each parent for at least 40% of the time (about 146 days a year), the parents share joint physical custody. Keep in mind that weekend visitations alone will not meet the 40% requirement at roughly 96 days or just over 26% of the year.
- Parents with legal custody have the right to make legal decisions about their children. These include healthcare, religious, and educational choices.
Until a divorce is finalized, both parents share joint physical and legal custody.
As with everything else in a divorce, it’s best for all parties if the custody decisions are settled through mediation. When this is made impossible, it is left up to the judge decide, and the child’s best interests are the only consideration.
The judge will use criteria for the best interests of the children under the Nevada Revised Statutes to make their decision. These include:
- The child’s wishes
- With whom the child’s life will be changed the least
- The level of conflict between the parents
- The ability of the parents to cooperate to meet the needs of the child
- The mental and physical health of the parents
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The effect on the child’s relationship with siblings
- The parents’ history of abuse or neglect
How Is Child Support Determined?
In divorces that include child support, each parent will have different considerations. The spouse on the receiving end will want to be sure the payments are enough to pay for the child’s upkeep. On the other side, the parent paying will want assurances the money will be spent correctly.
Who Pays Child Support?
Under Nevada law, each parent must contribute equally to their child’s upkeep. If one party has more than 60% of the time with the children, that is considered primary physical custody and the noncustodial parent is obligated to pay child support. If both parties have between 40% and 60% of the time with the children, that is considered joint physical custody and the higher earning parent is obligated to pay child support to the other parent, even if they have a greater timeshare.
What Does Child Support Cover?
Child support needs to cover the child’s basic needs. These will vary from family to family but invariably cover certain criteria, including:
- Housing – ensuring payment of rent or mortgages
- Utilities – gas, electricity, and water bills
- Transportation – car or other transport costs
- Food and healthcare – grocery and medical bills
- Entertainment – clubs or classes
Parents receiving child support should bear in mind that it is not the same thing as alimony. You can spend your alimony payments on what you want, but child support is to be spent on your child or children.
How Much are Child Support Payments?
Until recently, Nevada law capped child support payments at $1,200 a month. However, a new law came into effect on February 1, 2020, which states that child support payments must be equal to a percentage of the paying parent’s gross monthly income. That includes all income, including holiday pay, bonuses, and second jobs. The amounts also differ when there is a joint custody agreement.
Child support payments vary depending on the number of children involved, as laid out in the table below.
|# of Childreen||First $6k||Next $4k||Over $10k|
Visit here for a more in-depth look into how the new laws affect child support payments.
Even in cases of uncontested divorces without children, it is best to seek legal representation. McFarling Law Group is one of the highest-rated family legal firms in Nevada. For a confidential consultation with one of our Las Vegas attorneys, get in touch with our team at 702-766-6671.
Disclaimer: You should not take any information in this blog as legal advice in any situation. If you need expertise for a specific problem of yours, contact a qualified attorney.