Las Vegas Legal Separation Lawyer

Experienced Family Law Attorney in Clark County, Nevada

Las Vegas married couples who consider divorce sometimes decide that a legal separation is a better alternative for their circumstances.  Achieving a legal separation in Las Vegas requires completing a court process called an action for separate maintenance

A legal separation significantly affects your rights and interests.  Representation by experienced legal counsel is essential, whether you or your spouse initiates the action. 

Las Vegas family law attorney Joseph Gersten has the experience and knowledge to help you decide whether legal separation or divorce is the right choice.  Regardless of how you decide to proceed, Attorney Gersten protects your rights and interests throughout the entire process.  Your initial consultation is always free-of-charge.

Basics of Legal Separation / Separate Maintenance in Nevada

A Nevada state law governs legal separation. To establish a legally recognized separation, one of the spouses must bring an action in district court for permanent support and maintenance.  Simply reaching an agreement between the spouses is not sufficient to constitute legal separation in Nevada.

The grounds for a divorce also support filing an action for separate maintenance. They include:

  • Incompatibility
  • Living apart for at least one (1) year
  • Mental incompetence of a spouse for at least two (2) years

In addition, a separate maintenance action also may be filed after a 90-day period of desertion. Unlike divorce, there is no residency requirement for filing an action for separate maintenance in Nevada.

In a separate maintenance case, the court can decide essentially all the same financial and family issues as in a divorce action, as well as issues relating to the separation, including:

  • Custody, control, and support of minor children
  • Possession of real and personal property, including community property
  • Ongoing financial support for the spouse and children
  • Time and manner of support payments
  • Security for support payments
  • Payment of costs of the action
  • Liability for future debts of the respective spouses
  • Treatment of future income and after-acquired property
  • Responsibility for payment of taxes
  • Effect of reconciliation and bearing on divorce decree

If there is an enforceable premarital or prenuptial agreement between the spouses, the court cannot alter the provisions of that agreement relating to possession of property or spousal support.  In addition, the court cannot order a lump sum payment for child support.

The legal separation order may include any provisions that the spouses agree on, as long as they are in accordance with the law and not against public policy.  Once entered, the order is legally enforceable.

Unlike a divorce, a legal separation does not dissolve or end the marriage. The spouses are not free to remarry unless a divorce occurs.   

Why Choose Legal Separation Instead of Divorce?

While many married couples prefer divorce to sever all ties completely, there are circumstances where the alternative of legal separation has advantages.  Common reasons spouses agree to legal separation instead of divorce include:

  • Preserving the option for reconciliation
  • Separating when religious beliefs do not allow divorce
  • Maintaining spousal benefits, such as health insurance, or achieving eligibility for spousal benefits, like Social Security
  • Minimizing the trauma on younger children
  • Avoiding the consequences of selling and dividing community property

Each couple’s situation is unique. Making the decision to pursue legal separation instead of divorce requires professional advice from an experienced Nevada separation and divorce attorney.

Termination of a Legal Separation

The terms of a legal separation court order stay in effect indefinitely.  Either spouse may apply for modification of the court order at any time.  If the spouses subsequently divorce or one of the spouses dies, the separate maintenance order terminates.

If the spouses reconcile, the court order terminates, unless the order includes a provision keeping it in effect if the spouses reconcile and separate again.  Absent that provision in the order, a new legal separation proceeding order is necessary if the spouses separate again after reconciling.  

A separation order can provide that any subsequent divorce decree will incorporate the terms of the separation order.  If the order does not contain that provision, the terms of the separate maintenance order generally are not binding on the judge who hears and decides the divorce case.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Las Vegas Legal Separation Attorney

If you are considering a separation or divorce action in Las Vegas, Henderson, or elsewhere in Clark County, Las Vegas family law attorney Joseph Gersten can help. He also assists clients whose spouse files a separate maintenance action.