Getting a divorce in Las Vegas can be one of the most taxing and painful experiences in a person's life. Not only do you have to manage the emotional stress of terminating a long-term relationship, you must also consider and divide an entire lifetime of complicated financial investments, acquirements, and property. This is exponentially more difficult if children are involved. When trying to manage all of the issues, while emotionally invested, an experienced Las Vegas divorce lawyer is essential.
In Nevada, there are three separate processes for ending a marriage. These include:
- A summary proceeding for divorce in which both the parties sign a joint petition and cooperatively allocate financial resources and custody
- An annulment, in which the marriage is found to be illegal, and
- A complaint for divorce in which one party files for divorce and court appearances are necessary to determine alimony, child support, and allocation of property.
Nevada is a pure “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that one person cannot be assigned blame for the divorce and therefore property or custody cannot be based on the actions of either party (such as infidelity). It also means that any person can file for divorce at any time without the consent or agreement of their spouse. In fact, there are three situations which constitute legal grounds for divorce in Nevada:
- Incompatibility, meaning that the two parties were not able to live together happily due to basic irreconcilable differences. This is the most common cited cause of divorce.
- A twelve-month separation in which the spouses have not been living together or cohabiting.
- Two years of insanity (corroborated by the defendant) prior to filing for divorce.
Residency Requirements for Filing for Divorce in Nevada
Residents of Nevada may file for a divorce in any district county court of the state as long as one of the following conditions are met:
- The defendant resides in the county
- The plaintiff resides in the county
- The condition providing grounds for divorce occurred in the county
- The two spouses last cohabited in the county
Nevada also requires that either or both the defendant and the plaintiff must have resided in Nevada for at least six weeks prior to filing for divorce and intend to live in Nevada for the foreseeable future. This is generally proven through the use of an affidavit, signed by someone who knows the spouse and who can attest that they have seen the person three to four times a week for the previous six weeks.
Unlike divorce, an annulment is a legal procedure which declares a marriage invalid and dissolves it immediately. There are only a few conditions under which a marriage can be annulled; in all other cases, one or both parties must file for a divorce. Annulment may be an option if:
- One or both of the parties was under 18 and did not obtain consent of a parent or guardian
- One or both parties is found to have been incapable of consenting to the marriage
- The consent of either party was obtained through fraud
- Familial relationships between the married parties
- Pre-existing marriage of one or both of the parties (bigamy)
A Las Vegas Divorce Attorney at The Jacks Law Group can help you evaluate whether or not an annulment may be an option for you.
Summary Proceeding for Divorce
In a summary proceeding for divorce, both parties will file a joint petition. This option is generally more cooperative, more streamlined, and less expensive for both parties. Certain conditions must be met in order for this kind of divorce to be approved by a judge. The two parties must create a marital settlement agreement which details the division of property, assets, and debts, alimony and child support, child custody if applicable, and any other guardianship responsibilities.
Since the parties, in this case, are able to come to an agreement on their own regarding key issues, summary proceedings for divorce will not require court dates. In addition, uncontested divorces do not require legal counsel. However, it is vital to follow procedures exactly in order to obtain a divorce successfully. There are many steps that must be completed correctly including the joint petition itself, the marital settlement agreement, and the affidavits of residency.
Filing a Complaint for Divorce in Nevada
If the two parties cannot negotiate the terms of their divorce on their own, the divorce may require court intervention. The courts will help the two spouses determine the allocation of various joint property, debts, and future payments.
Property and Debts
Nevada is a “community property state,” meaning that any income and property acquired during the marriage or any debts accrued are equally owned by both parties and divided equally upon divorce. However, the court may shift property allocation depending on various factors such as a parent's custody status or a party's unemployment status if it is due to their role as a homemaker during the marriage.
Community property also includes retirement plans, 401(k)s, and investments, unless there is a prenuptial, post-nuptial, or separation agreement that allocates these resources differently. In addition, one party may have “separate property,” generally understood as property owned before the marriage began. For example, if one spouse entered a marriage with an inherited house that they were renting to tenants throughout the marriage, both the house and the acquired rent would remain his or her separate property and cannot be considered as community property. However, it can be allocated by the court to be used for child support or alimony if other sources are not available.
Alimony is also known as “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance,” and refers to money paid by one party to the other after a divorce to maintain a similar standard of living for both parties. There are no concrete and objective rules for a judge to follow when assigning alimony, so it is generally up to their discretion based on the parties' education levels, current job situation and experience, and health, among many other factors.
There are actually four kinds of alimony that can be ordered. Temporary maintenance refers to payments ordered during court proceedings and only until the divorce is finalized. Rehabilitative alimony describes payments that are given while the supported spouse attends job training and looks for work after the divorce is finalized. Temporary alimony is paid after the divorce for a finite period of time, determined by the judge, and permanent alimony is paid until the receiving spouse is remarried or passes away.
Legal Representation for Divorce in Las Vegas, Nevada
If you are considering a divorce, an attorney experienced in the practice of family law can help guide you through the process as painlessly as possible and advise you as to what your best course of action is in a delicate situation. Please do not hesitate to call The Jacks Law Group today at (702) 834-6300 or contact us online.