Understanding Nevada Divorce Laws

Nevada is famous the world over for the ease of obtaining a marriage license but what about our divorce laws?

People are generally a lot less clear on the regulations for ending a marriage and how to go about filing for divorce if you want to proceed.

Unlike a Las Vegas marriage, no divorce in Nevada can be rushed. There are a series of qualifying criteria as well as several steps to go through before you can be legally divorced.

Who can file for divorce?

Nevada’s divorce laws state that to dissolve a marriage, one or both of the spouses must be able to provide proof of residence in the state for at least six weeks.

This is usually not a great issue as the six-week residency requirement is lower than in most other states.

Proof of residency is usually in the form of a driver’s license or other state-issued ID. Alternatively, you can get an affidavit from an employer or other witness to confirm that you are resident in Nevada.

On what grounds can you divorce in Nevada?

To file for divorce, you must have legitimate grounds. This is mandated mainly because the court wants to avoid frivolous or impetuous divorces that married couples later regret.

Under N.R.S. 125.010, the three acceptable grounds for divorce in Nevada are:

  1. Incompatibility: the spouses declare that they can no longer maintain the marriage
  2. Separation: the spouses have lived separately for at least one year
  3. Insanity: one spouse has been legally insane for at least two years before the divorce papers are filed by the other spouse

In Nevada divorces, no fault is apportioned for the breakdown of a marriage. We are sometimes called a “no-fault” state because of this rule, which generally means that divorce proceedings are less adversarial and time-consuming for the courts.

What are the steps to file for divorce in Nevada?

Providing you meet the requirements for divorce, filing the paperwork is relatively simple, though some people prefer a divorce lawyer to assist.

The three main steps are as follows:

  1. Complete the necessary forms

There are three main forms to fill in to initiate divorce proceedings. These are:

  • A civil cover sheet: this includes general information about you, your spouse, and your children, if applicable.
  • A divorce complaint: This informs the court and your spouse of your expectations for custody, temporary child and/or spousal support, property division, spousal support, etc.
  • A summons: This informs your spouse that you intend to divorce and that his or her response to the complaint is required within 21 days (otherwise a default may be awarded according to the requests made in the complaint).
  1. File the documents with the court

You need to fill out the forms at your local district courthouse and pay a filing fee unless you sign a waiver form and the court agrees to waive the filing fee.

  1. Serve the divorce papers to your spouse

If you file divorce papers, you have a duty to serve these papers to your spouse to inform them of the action taken within 120 days.

Any neutral party over the age of 18 (including a private company) can deliver these documents on your behalf but they must be delivered directly into the hands of your spouse.

After completing these three steps, the divorce process is initiated. However, few divorces are simple or granted quickly without considerable discussion and negotiation between parties.

An agreement may be achieved through collaboration between divorce lawyers, mediation, arbitration or litigation. Few divorces in Nevada end up going to trial but, likewise, few are settled without contentious issues being raised.

As a general rule, divorces without children are easier and quicker than divorces that must consider the needs of children. Divorces with small marital estates are also usually quicker to settle than those with large estates.

Typical disputed issues in a Nevada divorce

Once the papers are filed, the divorce process depends greatly on how easily and amicably the outstanding issues between the spouses can be settled.

Most divorces are in some way contested and you will need to take steps to reach a mutual understanding on contentious issues or ask a judge to decide.

Typically, the most hotly contested issues in a divorce are as follows:

  • Child custody: who has legal and physical custody of the children is a primary issue that can hold up a divorce if no agreement can be reached.
  • Child support: the amount of child support due from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent (if any) must be calculated and agreed upon. These calculations should include the children’s school, extracurricular, insurance, and uninsured medical expenses.
  • Property and debt division: in Nevada, anything considered marital property (as opposed to separate property) must be divided down the middle unless the spouses agree otherwise. The same applies to marital debt.
  • Spousal support (alimony): sometimes, spousal support is required to help one spouse make the financial transition to self-sufficiency—if so, an agreeable amount and duration of payment must be decided.

If you sign an agreement on all of these issues, the judge will usually review the terms and approve the divorce. If some or all of these issues are outstanding, the judge may order mediation or determine what is fair for the spouses and, most importantly, what is in the best interests of the children.

What if your spouse doesn’t agree to divorce?

Even if your spouse is not present or does not agree to the divorce, you can proceed with your request for divorce and file the relevant papers at the district court.

Ultimately, if one spouse wants to end a marriage in Nevada and the papers filed are in good order, the courts can grant the divorce.

Whether you want to take the steps to initiate a divorce or have had divorce papers served on you and want to know what to do next, the experienced divorce lawyers at Goldstein Flaxman PLLC can help protect your interests and resolve all types of divorce disputes. Get in touch for a case evaluation today.