What Is a Nevada One-Signature Divorce?
When a married person pursues a divorce in Nevada, the process can follow one of several different paths, depending on the circumstances between the spouses. One possibility is for a spouse to obtain a default divorce, sometimes referred to as a Nevada one-signature divorce. To obtain a default divorce, specific criteria must be met. While this type of divorce may sound appealing, there are both advantages and disadvantages to pursuing a one-signature divorce.
Nevada Divorce Process Basics
In general, there are two ways to file for a Nevada divorce. If both spouses agree completely on everything relating to the divorce, they may file a joint petition for divorce. This process is characterized as an uncontested divorce. Specific requirements apply, including complete agreement on all terms of the divorce relating to property division, child custody and support, and alimony. Disagreement on even one small detail makes a married couple ineligible for filing a joint petition for divorce.
The second way to file for a Nevada divorce involves only one spouse filing a complaint for divorce. When one spouse files a complaint for divorce as the plaintiff, the other spouse (the defendant) can respond to the statements in the complaint by filing an answer and counterclaim. The answer may include their wishes concerning the outcome of the divorce — which may be different from the wishes of the plaintiff contained in the divorce complaint.
When the defendant responds to a divorce complaint, the spouses often attempt to negotiate a settlement agreement to address the issues relating to property, children, and support, with assistance from their respective attorneys. Mediation of some of the issues is also a possibility. If the spouses cannot resolve some of the issues, the court holds a trial, and the judge makes those decisions for the parties.
The defendant’s response to a divorce complaint must be filed within 21 calendar days of being served with the divorce complaint. If the defendant fails to respond or cannot be located (and therefore cannot be served with the complaint), the plaintiff may ask the court to grant a divorce by default. The circumstances that can lead to a default divorce — the defendant’s failure to respond or the inability to locate and serve the defendant — may constitute the basis for a one-signature divorce.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a One-Signature Divorce
Advantages of a default divorce include reducing the time it takes to get a divorce and paying lower attorney’s fees and court costs. In some situations, spouses may agree to pursue a default divorce for these reasons. If you and your spouse consider that approach, it’s extremely important for each of you to consult an attorney before you proceed. If you do not talk with a lawyer, you could be giving up important legal rights without realizing it.
A significant disadvantage of a one-signature divorce is that the default defendant has a period of time (usually six months) within which to ask the court to set aside the default divorce decree. If that happens, the plaintiff must go back to court. Depending on the situation, the judge may reopen the entire case to reconsider any or all the issues relating to the divorce, including those affecting property, children, and support.
When to Consider a Default Divorce
If you (or you and your spouse together) are considering the possibility of pursuing a default divorce process, it is crucial that you talk with a Nevada divorce attorney before you proceed. You should encourage your spouse to consult their own lawyer as well. (A single attorney cannot advise or represent both parties in a divorce action.)
When you get a divorce, you have significant legal rights relating to marital property, child support and custody, and alimony. You should make sure you fully understand those rights before you decide on an approach to the divorce process. Otherwise, you can unintentionally compromise or give up important legal rights. Only an experienced, trained legal professional can analyze all your circumstances and advise you of all the rights and interests that are at stake when you pursue a divorce.
Your attorney evaluates all aspects of your situation before explaining the options that are available and how they apply to your circumstances. Your lawyer’s role includes making certain that you make fully-informed decisions concerning every step in the divorce process. Talking with a legal professional early in the process can save you the substantial amount of money in attorney’s fees and court costs that you might incur if you pursue a default divorce without understanding the full legal implications of your actions.
If, after talking with a lawyer, you decide to pursue a default divorce, specific requirements apply to the process, particularly in situations where the defendant cannot be located. You should rely on your attorney to help you make certain that you satisfy all the legal requirements and procedures for a one-signature divorce before you begin the process.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Las Vegas 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.
The Gersten Law Firm assists clients in Las Vegas, Henderson, and elsewhere in Clark County. Your initial consultation is always free-of-charge. Call 702.857.8777 or complete the online contact form to schedule an appointment.