When a married couple divorces or registered domestic partners end their relationship, dividing property often is an emotional, and stressful process. To make things even more complicated, specific Nevada laws govern property settlement and asset division In both situations.
Attorney Joseph Gersten helps Las Vegas family law clients navigate through all aspects of separation and divorce, including property settlement and asset division. He takes a compassionate approach to any situation involving domestic matters. His extensive experience and knowledge of Nevada law benefit clients in any circumstances, including resolution of property division issues when a relationship ends. At The Gersten Law Firm, your first consultation is always free-of-charge.
In many cases, separating couples can agree on a fair division of property. Sometimes, experienced legal counsel can help the couple work out minor details that prevent full agreement.
A mutually agreeable solution provides the quickest and best solution to asset division. Nevada courts generally accept a reasonable resolution developed by the parties and reflected in a property settlement agreement. However, there are times that agreement simply is not possible. Then, the court steps in and determines division of the couple’s assets under applicable provisions in Nevada statutes.
Nevada is a community property state. Spouses jointly own property and assets acquired during the marriage. Registered domestic partners also have community property rights under state law.
Generally, community property and assets are divided equally when the relationship terminates. For assets that cannot be physically divided (like a home or automobile), the goal is to divide property overall in a manner that is as fair to both parties as possible. When the court makes the asset division, a fair and equitable distribution generally means ensuring that the parties receive equally valued property.
Couples often also have separate property, which belongs to the person who is the owner and is not subject to division when the legal relationship terminates and. Examples of separate property include:
If the parties disagree whether specific property is community property or separate property, the court determines ownership of the property as part of the asset division process.
In some situations, if a spouse or partner makes a contribution of separate property when the couple acquires or improves community property, Nevada law provides that the person contributing separate property may be entitled to reimbursement for some or all of the contribution. In making that determination, the court considers certain factors, including the intention of the parties, length of the marriage or partnership, and “Any other factor which the court deems relevant in making a just and equitable disposition of that property.”
Finally, while separate property is excluded from asset division in a divorce proceeding, the court does have the authority to set apart all or part of separate property for the support of the couple’s children, when the court considers such a set aside “just and equitable.”
When a court rules on issues relating to property division, Nevada law requires that the court:
[T]o the extent practicable, make an equal disposition of the community property of the parties … except that the court may make an unequal disposition of the community property in such proportions as it deems just if the court finds a compelling reason to do so and sets forth in writing the reasons for making the unequal disposition.
Circumstances warranting an unequal distribution of property include:
Nevada courts have ruled that an unequal division also may be justified if a spouse wasted or hid assets, but this provision is not included in the state statutes.
Pensions and money in retirement plans often present difficult issues in asset division. Retirement accounts, pensions, 401(k) plans, and IRAs accumulated during a marriage are community property. As such, the court may consider these accounts and benefits of both spouses in determining division of assets in a divorce. Questions relating to valuation of the accounts may require use of experts in a divorce proceeding.
If pension or retirement accounts are included in property division, it may be necessary to include a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) in the final court decree. The QDRO provides the plan administrator with all the necessary information to accomplish division of the pension or retirement account.
Just as property and assets must be divided during a divorce, any liabilities and debts incurred during the marriage also must be divided. The parties or the court makes the allocation in a manner similar to that used for property. Debts and liabilities are categorized as community debt, separate debt, or joint debt. The category of an obligation determines its allocation in the asset distribution process.
After the parties reach agreement or the court determines the division, responsibility for accomplishing the distribution rests with the parties. Depending on the circumstances, this task can be somewhat daunting, since it can require selling property, transferring accounts, or changing titles to property An experienced property settlement and asset division attorney can help ease the burden significantly.
If you have questions about asset division and property settlement, Las Vegas family law attorney Joseph Gersten is here to help. Attorney Gersten understands the difficulty and emotional strain of legal matters relating to dividing property at the end of a relationship. He will evaluate your situation based on his extensive experience, explain Nevada asset division laws and processes, and protect your rights and interests.
The Gersten Law Firm assists clients in Las Vegas, Henderson, and elsewhere in Clark County. Your initial consultation is free-of-charge. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.