To this day, Las Vegas has the highest per capita rate of divorce in the state. Some of those divorces are certainly of the “quickie” variety.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Child Custody Issues
Child Support, Visitation and Paternity
Property Division In Divorce
Prenuptial And Postnuptial Agreements
Divorce In The Military
- ADR Available: Yes
- Fault or No Fault: No Fault
- Parenting Plan Required: No
- Property Distribution: Community
Grounds For Divorce
The only grounds for divorce in Nevada are irreconcilable differences with no hope of reconciliation, or living apart for one year. This is what is referred to as a no-fault divorce. If both spouses want the divorce, they would file a Joint Petition. If only one spouse is requesting a divorce, he or she would file a Complaint for divorce.
The person requesting the divorce is called the plaintiff and the other spouse is the defendant. One of the following conditions on the Complaint will need to be selected by the plaintiff:
- “The husband and wife have become so incompatible in marriage that there is no possibility of reconciliation.
- The husband and wife have lived separate and apart for more than one year and there is no possibility of reconciliation.”
If the couple is in total agreement on the divorce issues, they could get a Summary Divorce, which is an uncontested divorce. In a Summary Divorce the couple will not even need to go to court, and will simply have their papers signed by a judge.
Divorce Waiting Periods
There is no waiting period in Nevada. There is only a six-week residency requirement for one of the spouses. If a spouse is in the military, the same six-week residency applies.
There is an option other than divorce which some couples may choose to select, and that is legal separation or Separate Maintenance, as it is called in Nevada. When a couple selects this option they must come to agreement on all of the topics included in a divorce such as child custody, division of property, child support and spousal maintenance. The couple is living apart (their maintenance is separate) as though they are divorced, although neither one is free to re-marry.
An annulment is a way of ending a marriage by stating that the marriage was never legal in the first place. It is as though the marriage never existed. A civil annulment is a completely separate process compared to a religious annulment. In Nevada, there are several grounds, or reasons, for an annulment of a marriage including:
- One or both spouses are already married to someone else at the time of the marriage (bigamy)
- Lack of ability to consent due to incompetence, insanity or other similar reason
- Marriage due to fraud or lies (coercion)
- Marriage to someone who is too closely related (siblings, first cousins, descendants, uncles/nieces, aunts/nephews)
- Underage (younger than 18 without parent consent, younger than 16 with parent consent)
ADR is a way to resolve a dispute without going to court. There are many forms of ADR; however, not all forms are legal in all states. In Nevada, there are two forms of ADR which are encouraged.
- Mediation. In this process a neutral third party works with the couple to guide them through the process and reach an agreement on community property, support and child custody.
- Collaborative law. In this process, both spouses have an attorney and the four individuals work together to reach an agreement. The attorneys are trained in collaborative law, and the couple signs a pledge that they will reach an agreement on divorce terms without going to court. If the collaborative law approach doesn’t work out, the couple must hire new attorneys and start over.
Child Custody Determinations
Couples who are divorcing, and have children, will need to come to an agreement regarding child custody. The court prefers that the couple decide on a child custody arrangement on their own, rather than going to court. If the couple cannot agree on child custody, the court will decide on the parent’s behalf, using the following factors or considerations:
- Domestic violence, if it exists in the relationship
- How the child gets along with both parents, siblings and other family members
- The age and health of each parent
- The child’s opinions if he or she is old and mature enough
- The degree to which the parents are willing to foster a good relationship with the other parent
- The parents’ previous relationship with the child
- The physical, developmental and emotional needs of the child
The court prefers that the parents share custody of the child or children equally, or jointly.
Visitation and Parenting Plans
Assuming that the court awards joint custody, the parents will need to develop a plan regarding their shared parenting time, transportation, holiday and vacation schedule, doctor visits, extracurricular activities and much more. Although Nevada does not have a set parenting plan form that parents should follow, the state does expect that the parents will develop a plan as part of the divorce process.
Another reason Nevada may be a favored place to get a divorce is because the guidelines are easy to follow. In Nevada, the noncustodial parent may be required to pay child support. The amount is calculated according to the number of children and a percentage of income. Those amounts are:
- 18 percent for one child
- 25 percent for two children
- 29 percent for three children
- 31 percent for four children
- An additional 2 percent for each additional child
For those in the military, child support and spousal support combined amounts may not equal more than 60 percent of the serviceman or servicewomen’s pay.
The state furnishes the child support guideline, although if you wish to have an accurate estimation of the amount you may receive, or be required to pay, consultation with an attorney is advised.
Child Support Enforcement
Child support payments, once they are ordered by the court, are mandatory. If there is a serious change in conditions or ability to pay, the parent would need to get a post-divorce modification. Unemployment alone is not sufficient reason to stop paying child support because the court will look at whether the unemployment is voluntary to avoid paying child support.
It is important to know that withholding child support for lack of visitation time is not permitted. Likewise, withholding visitation for lack of child support payments is also not permitted.
If child support payments are not being made, the court has several enforcement options including:
- Wage garnishment
- Liens on personal property (car or truck, for example)
- Withholding federal or state income tax refunds
There are several reasons why paternity is requested. The mother could request a paternity test in order to obtain child support payments. A man who believes he is the father could request a paternity test to obtain visitation privileges. The court could request a paternity test if the child or children are receiving state assistance payments.
A paternity test is typically accomplished with a mouth swab inside the cheek.
Division Of Property
Divorcing couples who agree on child custody matters can often get stuck on the division of property. Nevada is a community property state which means that all assets and liabilities accumulated during the marriage belong equally to both spouses. So if one spouse earned more money and the other spouse took care of the children, those are both contributions to the marriage and so the assets are split 50/50. The exception to this rule is the premarital assets owned by each individual, provided those assets weren’t mingled or combined during the marriage.
Before the property is divided, it all must be assigned a value. For example, if one person was awarded one car worth $5,000 (cash value) and the other person was awarded the other car worth $25,000 (cash value with payments remaining), that is not equal even though they both got one car. An option would be that the spouse who can make the payments on the car may be given that car and the other spouse would be awarded $20,000 of something else.
The assets which are divided during divorce include:
- All motorized vehicles and boats
- Any rental property
- Collections (coins, artwork, guns)
- Credit card debt
- Household furnishings
- Real estate property including the family home
- Retirement savings such as IRAs, 401(k)s, Keoghs
Alimony and Spousal Maintenance
When a couple divorces, the court may order one spouse to pay the other spouse alimony or spousal maintenance. There are several types of spousal maintenance depending upon the needs of the spouse who will be receiving the payments. Spousal maintenance may be:
- Temporary – Spousal maintenance during the divorce process
- Rehabilitative – Spousal maintenance for a certain number of years to allow the receiving spouse to re-enter a career or obtain new job training or education
- Permanent – Spousal maintenance that continues until the receiving spouse either dies or remarries
Occasionally a significant life change will occur and one or both spouses will request a post-divorce modification to reflect the new reality. Reasons which could result in a post-divorce modification include:
- Addiction or abuse issues
- Change of job or promotion
- Health issues (either ex-spouse or a child)
- Loss of job
More marriages than ever are remarriages in which case each spouse brings assets and perhaps children from a previous marriage. When a family will be blended, or when significant assets are involved, a couple may choose to have a prenuptial agreement.
A premarital agreement, also called a prenuptial or prenup, is an agreement for how the property will be divided and child custody situations will be handled, should the couple divorce. A postnuptial agreement covers the same basic information as a prenuptial agreement, although it is signed after the marriage. A postnuptial agreement may be needed if one spouse develops an addiction and the strength of the marriage becomes uncertain, or if the couple is having disagreements and is unsure whether they may pursue divorce in the future.
The same-sex divorce laws in the U.S. are a rapidly evolving landscape at both the state and federal level. Nevada is no different. Same-sex unions have been recognized in the state since October 1, 2009, and are called domestic partnerships. A domestic partnership is not the same, legally, as a marriage although many of the same rights exist.
Same-sex marriage was banned in Nevada by an amendment to the Constitution in 2002. A gay couple, who were married in another state and move to Nevada, are currently not permitted to divorce in Nevada. They can, however, dissolve a domestic partnership.
To dissolve a domestic partnership, the couple would go through a process very similar to a contested or uncontested divorce. The issues that would need to be settled include division of community property and debts, child custody issues, and alimony or spousal maintenance determinations.
There are several bases in Nevada, home to couples who may want to divorce. In many ways a military divorce is like a civilian divorce. There are, however, a few protections in place for the military. For example, a serviceman or servicewoman can’t be held liable for missing a respondent deadline when he or she is in the active military and unable to respond.
The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, 50 USC section 521, allows the court to postpone the divorce proceedings for the time in which a service member is on duty, and for 60 days after returning home. In addition, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) was created to handle retirement benefits for those in the military who have been married for 10 years or more. In those instances, the nonmilitary spouse can receive a direct payment of a portion of the military retiree’s retirement pay.
When a couple divorces, the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins also lose contact or time with the children. When there is a previous strong relationship with the children, the grandparents or other close relatives may choose to go to court and request visitation privileges. This is sometimes the case when a parent dies, and the surviving parent then becomes the sole custodian and denies access to the former in-laws. As with all decisions regarding child custody and visitation, the court will make a decision which it determines is in the best interests of the child or children.
To learn more about the process of divorce, child custody, child support and and all other divorce-related questions, fill out the free case review form to get in contact with a Nevada divorce attorney.