Getting a Divorce in Nevada: Essential Facts
Although getting married in Nevada is easy, ending a marriage through a Nevada divorce is more involved. If you’re considering getting a divorce in Nevada — whether in Las Vegas or elsewhere in the state — it’s important to understand the basic facts about the divorce process. You also need to make certain that you protect your rights and interests.
Residency Requirements for a Nevada Divorce
To file a divorce in Nevada, you or your spouse must live in the state for at least six weeks immediately prior to filing. For the court to resolve child custody issues, the child also must live in Nevada for at least six weeks before filing.
The only exception to the spousal residency requirement is when the basis for the divorce action occurred in Nevada when you and your spouse lived together in the state. If the defendant in a divorce case does not live in Nevada or make a legal appearance in the action, and does not have significant contacts with the state, the court will only have authority to address marital status and property and children located in Nevada.
The law provides that you may file in the county where the defendant resides (or can be found), where you reside, where you and your spouse last cohabited, or where you and your spouse lived when the basis for cause of action accrued. Only those Nevada counties have jurisdiction to hear and decide a divorce case.
Grounds for a Nevada Divorce
Nevada is a no-fault divorce state. There are only three allowable grounds for divorce. The most common basis for a divorce is incompatibility. The court also may grant a divorce on motion of either party when the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least one year. Finally, a spouse may petition for divorce based on insanity of the other spouse for at least two years prior to filing, with corroborative evidence of the insanity required.
Legal separation is a specific process that is different from divorce in Nevada. It may be an alternative to divorce and may be preferable for some couples. Unlike a divorce, a separate maintenance court action, which is the basis for a legal separation, does not have a residency requirement. There may be other reasons for considering a legal separation instead of a divorce.
Annulment also is a different process that a married couple can use to end a marriage in some circumstances. There are limited reasons for a court to grant an annulment. While there is no residency requirement for annulment of a Nevada marriage, at least one spouse must live in Nevada for at least six weeks prior to filing if the marriage occurred outside the state.
If you think legal separation or annulment is a viable alternative to divorce for your circumstances, you should talk with an experienced family law attorney before you make a decision which process to pursue.
Matters Determined by the Court in a Divorce Case
Since a divorce action seeks termination of a marriage, matters relating to the marital relationship must be resolved before a Nevada court has authority to grant a divorce, to the extent the court has jurisdiction over those issues. Those matters include property division, child custody and support, and alimony (spousal support). Asset division includes allocation of spousal debts. The court may issue temporary orders relating to finances and custody while the action is pending. In the final order, the court also may award attorney’s fees.
In some situations, spouses can agree on all marital concerns in a settlement agreement. In that case, they may be able to use the process for an uncontested divorce. However, if the spouses do not agree on even one issue, an uncontested divorce is not an option. Representation by an experienced divorce lawyer is strongly recommended for both parties to a divorce, to ensure that each spouse protects important legal rights. Legal counsel is particularly crucial when the spouses have disagreements relating to issue resolution.
Property division is an extremely important issue in any divorce. Nevada is a community property state, which means that marital property is subject to allocation between the spouses in a divorce. Asset division can be complicated, particularly if there are business interests or retirement accounts involved. Military divorces also often involve special considerations relating to assets and other divorce issues.
If a married couple has children, matters relating to the children often are the most difficult and emotional concerns that must be resolved in a divorce. Child custody and child support are issues that affect the very central part of a parent’s life. You should make certain that your rights and interests are protected during the negotiations and proceedings relating to both custody and support.
No matter how anxious you may be to get divorced, you should be very careful about giving up rights and agreeing to a settlement. The best approach to a divorce is to consult with a knowledgeable Nevada divorce attorney before you agree to any divorce terms. Otherwise, you may give up important interests without realizing it immediately. Your future financial security and your child’s future are extremely important. You should protect your rights and interests, regardless of how much you want to get a divorce.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Clark County Divorce Attorney
If you are considering filing for divorce in Nevada, Las Vegas family law attorney Joseph Gersten is here to help. He draws on his extensive experience in domestic matters, including child custody and support, property division, and alimony (spousal support), to protect your interests and pursue cost-effective resolution of all issues.
Attorney Joseph Gersten works with clients in Las Vegas, Henderson, and elsewhere in Clark County. Your initial consultation is always free-of-charge at The Gersten Law Firm. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.