Although Nevada is world-renowned for fast Las Vegas weddings, the state's divorce laws are much more typical with what you find in other states. Nevada might be famous for weddings performed by Elvis impersonators, but the state's courts take divorce very seriously. Nevada does not have a strict residency requirement. The state only requires that one of the spouses live in Nevada for at least six weeks immediately before filing for divorce.
Nevada is a pure no-fault state. The grounds for divorce in Nevada include:
- Living apart for at least two years
- At least one spouse is insane for at least two years before the start of the divorce
The Divorce Process
The divorce process in Nevada is relatively straightforward. If you and your spouse agree on everything in your case, you can file a "joint petition" for divorce. If you can't agree, however, you must file a standard divorce complaint.
- The petitioning spouse files a summons and "complaint" for divorce. The petitioner must then "serve" the opposing party by providing him with a copy of the complaint, summons and financial disclosure form, within 120 days of filing for divorce. After the opposing party is served, the petitioning spouse must file an Affidavit of Service. The affidavit informs the court when and where your spouse was served and the court uses the date to calculate the time that has passed before issuing a default judgment if requested.
- The responding spouse has 20 days to reply. If he fails to respond to the complaint, the court will issue a "default" judgment.
- If you and your spouse agree, you can proceed with an uncontested divorce. Nevada allows you to attend a "prove up" hearing, where you can present all your resolved issues to the court and finalize your divorce.
- If your case is contested and you have children, the court might order you to attend mandatory mediation.
- In contested cases, the court has the authority to order a number of hearings before the case goes forward to trial. In many cases, the parties reach an agreement before the case gets that far.
Clark County offers a self-help website with many of the divorce forms you'll need. The process is the same for all counties, but you should check with an attorney to make sure that the forms you are using are applicable for your situation.
Dividing the Property
Nevada is a community property state. Nevada courts distribute property as equally as possible unless they find a good reason to give one person more than the other. Factors that are considered vary case by case.
There are no guidelines to alimony in Nevada, other than the fact that the alimony be 'just and equitable.' Nevada courts have authority to award support to both spouses based on the following factors:
- How long you were married
- Each spouse's age, health, education and current income
- Financial condition of both spouses after the divorce
- Each spouse's career prior to the marriage
- Any child support that is already being given
If the court decides to award alimony, its order includes a deadline by which the recipient must start training or taking classes for a new job or skill. The paying spouse also has the right to request a modification down the road if his or her income changes by at least 20 percent.
Child Support and Custody
Nevada courts also address the welfare of any children involved in divorce cases.
In any Nevada divorce case involving minor children, the court determines which parent receives custody of the children by considering:
- The child's wishes
- The parents' wishes
- Which parent is more willing to encourage the child to have a relationship with the opposite parent
- The relationship between the parents
- The cooperation between the parents regarding the child's needs
- The parents' mental and physical health
- The child's emotional, developmental, and physical needs
- The child's ability to maintain relationships with siblings
- Any history of domestic violence
Filing Your Case
Ending a marriage is a very serious affair. You can be certain the court will treat your case with respect and compassion. Although Nevada has some excellent do-it-yourself resources, talk to a lawyer if you feel like the issues in your case merit expert assistance.