In Nevada or elsewhere, divorce for any married couple will accomplish two things: (1) severing the marital relationship, and (2) dividing assets and debts. If one of them will be unable to be self-supporting after the divorce, the issue of alimony may also arise. If there are minor children, they will also need to resolve issues of child custody, visitation, and support.
Residency and Where to File
To file for divorce in Nevada, one of the following must exist: (1) you or your spouse has been a resident of Nevada for at least 6 weeks, or (2) you and your spouse were domiciled in Nevada when the grounds for divorce occurred. Your domicile is your primary residence. You may be a resident of more than one state, but may only have one domicile (where you have your driver’s license, car and voter registration, etc.). You may file in the District Court in the county where either party resides, where you last lived together, or where the grounds for divorce occurred.
The simplest procedure in Nevada is called a summary procedure, which may be used if all of the following conditions are met:
- there are no minor children and the wife is not pregnant, or the parties have a written custody and child support agreement,
- there is no community or jointly owned property, or the parties have a written agreement to divide all property and have executed all necessary transfer documents,
- the parties waive alimony, or have a written alimony agreement,
- the parties waive their rights to a written notice of decree of divorce, appeal, request for findings of fact and conclusions of law, and to move for a new trial.
If you don’t qualify for the summary procedure, but your spouse will not contest any matters, you may file an uncontested divorce using the standard procedure. For either procedure, you would begin by filing a Complaint for Divorce, along with various supporting documents (such as a settlement agreement in the summary procedure). Copies of these documents are provided to your spouse. You will attend a court hearing, at which time the judge will make sure that all of your paperwork is in order, perhaps ask you a few questions, and enter your Decree of Divorce.
Grounds for Divorce
Grounds for divorce are legally recognized reasons to get a divorce. This is the justification for severing the marital relationship. Nevada, like most states, has what are commonly called no-fault grounds for divorce, and one traditional fault-based ground. To get a no-fault divorce in Nevada you need to state in the Complaint for Divorce that “the parties are incompatible,” or “the parties have been living separate and apart without cohabitation for 1 year.”
The fault-based ground is insanity existing for at least 2 years before filing. In most cases, there is no reason to use this ground, since it adds complexity to the process by requiring proof.
Generally, under Nevada divorce law, each party may keep separate property, which is property:
- acquired before marriage, or by gift or inheritance, or is income from such property,
- designated as separate property by written agreement of the parties,
- acquired after a decree of separate maintenance, or
- acquired as personal injury damages.
All other property is community property, which is divided equally, unless the judge “finds a compelling reason” for unequal division. If either party contributed separate property “to the acquisition or improvement” of joint property, reimbursement for all or part of the contribution may be ordered, after considering the intention of the parties in placing the property in joint tenancy, the length of the marriage, and any other relevant factor.
Alimony in Nevada
According to Nevada alimony law, absent an agreement of the parties, the questions of whether to award alimony, and the amount and duration of alimony, are determined by the court according to what is “just and equitable,” considering the following factors:
- the financial condition of each party,
- the nature and value of the respective property of each party,
- each party’s contribution to any community or jointly held property,
- the duration of the marriage, and the standard of living during the marriage,
- each party’s income, earning capacity, age, and health,
- the career before the marriage of the party seeking alimony,
- any specialized training, or level of marketable skills attained during the marriage,
- the contribution of either party as homemaker,
- the award of property granted to the party seeking alimony, and
- each party’s physical and mental condition as it relates to their financial condition, health, and ability to work.
The court must also consider alimony for training or education relating to employment, by evaluating whether the party who would pay alimony obtained greater job skills or education during the marriage, and whether the party seeking alimony provided financial support to the other party’s job skills or education. If the court grants such alimony, it must set forth the time within which the party receiving alimony must commence the training or education.
Child Custody in Nevada
If you and your spouse have any minor children, there will have to be a custody determination. This basically comes down to figuring out how the children’s time will be divided between the parents, and how decisions will be made. Any agreement on custody will be accepted by the judge unless it is determined not to be in the child’s best interest. If you cannot reach a custody agreement, the judge will decide the issue, after considering all relevant factors, including:
- the wishes of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity,
- which party is more likely to foster a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other party,
- the level of conflict between the parties,
- the ability of the parties to cooperate to meet the needs of the child,
- the mental and physical health of the parties,
- the physical, developmental, and emotional needs of the child,
- the nature of the relationship of the child with each party,
- the ability of the child to maintain a relationship with any sibling,
- any history of parental abuse or neglect of the child, or a sibling of the child,
- whether either party has engaged in an act of domestic violence against the child, a parent of the child, or any other person residing with the child, and
- whether either party has committed an act of abduction against any child.
Child Support in Nevada
Child support is determined by guidelines in the Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 125B. The needs of the children are based on a percentage of the parties’ combined gross incomes (18% for one child, 25% for two children, 29% for three children, 32% for four children, and an additional 2% for each additional child). Each party’s share is equal to that party’s percentage of the parties’ combined income. The minimum is $100 per month per child (unless the judge finds the payor is unable to pay that amount), and a maximum of $500 per month per child. Any deviation, even if the parties agree, must be justified by considering the following factors:
- the cost of health insurance, child care, and any special educational needs of the child,
- the age of the child,
- the legal responsibility of the parties for the support of others,
- the value of services contributed by either party,
- any public assistance paid to support the child,
- the amount of time the child spends with each party,
- any other necessary expenses for the benefit of the child, and
- the relative income of both parents.
The wife’s maiden or former name may be restored.
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