What We Cover In This Article
Divorce Laws | Residency Requirements | Grounds for Divorce | Divorce Attorney | Filing for Divorce | Online Divorce | How Long? | Divorce Costs | Custody | Child Support | Alimony | Division of Asset | Common-Law Marriage | Alternatives
Are you thinking about getting a divorce in Nevada or wondering what it will be like if you ever need to ask for a divorce from your spouse?
Divorce is a significant change in life, but the good news is that it’s formally structured and regulated, so there shouldn't be too many surprises along the way.
In this article, we break down everything you should know about getting a divorce in Nevada, including information on the types of divorce, whether getting an attorney makes sense, online options, fees, division of assets, and some alternative ways to separate from a partner.
This guide is comprehensive, and each section has a summary at the end highlighting the most important things to know about it.
Types of Divorce Laws in Nevada
Divorce is not a subjective procedure in Nevada.
Instead, the entire process is made up of laws that govern the process.
The primary laws governing divorce are found in Chapter 125 of the Nevada Revised Statutes.
This chapter covers general details, divorce proceedings, maintenance following support, annulment, and related matters.
Generally, the laws in Nevada cover two situations:
- Uncontested divorces
Regardless of type of divorce, things will usually go before a judge who needs to give final approval for the agreement.
A contested divorce in Nevada is where the involved parties disagree on the terms of the divorce.
These disagreements could range from one person not wanting to separate to issues with the division of assets, child support payments, or practically any other matter.
A divorce is contested if there are any disagreements in the divorce petition.
Contested divorces usually take longer and end up being more expensive than uncontested divorces.
However, it’s also possible to avoid a messy contested divorce if the parties signed a prenuptial agreement, as detailed in Chapter 123A of Nevada’s statutes.
Realistically, a contested divorce can take anywhere from several months to several years for resolution.
Complicated cases involving multiple, varied assets like businesses, houses and retirement accounts usually take longer to resolve.
Most contested divorces occur for one of the following reasons:
- Alimony payments
- Custody of children
- Child support payments
- Division of assets and debts between the parties
Contested divorces can occur for other reasons but typically don’t.
Many contested divorces end up going to trial to settle things, which is a significant factor in how slow they are.
Couples often stop living together while awaiting trial, but the court may impose orders for things like child custody while this occurs.
Pros & Cons
Uncontested divorces occur when both parties are in agreement and present the same divorce plan to the court.
This scenario can occur because of several possible actions, ranging from enforcing the terms of a prenuptial agreement to discussing things with a mediator before visiting the court.
These cases typically resolve much faster than contested divorces unless the court has some reason to intervene.
Many uncontested divorce cases conclude within three weeks of filing paperwork with the court, although the exact timeline can vary based on factors like how busy the court is.
Uncontested divorces are sometimes known as joint petitions or summary divorces.
Generally, a couple must agree on all of the following to qualify for an uncontested divorce:
- Both people are in agreement that they want to end the marriage
- Spouses are incompatible or have been living apart for at least one year
- There are no children involved, or the spouses have an acceptable legal and custody plan to manage the children
- The couple does not share any property, or they have agreed on how to divide it
- The couple waives any rights to alimony, or they have agreed on the amount and format of it
- Both spouses waive all rights to different proceedings
A divorce becomes contested if the couple fails to meet any of these requirements.
However, existing legal documents or agreements can impact this.
For example, if there’s a prenuptial agreement on the division of property, one spouse’s later objections probably won’t override that.
This is how you can get an uncontested divorce even if one party involved is complaining.
More rarely, you may have cases where both sides have some objections, but existing agreements prevent it from becoming contested.
FURTHER READING: How To Get a Cheap and Quick Divorce
Pros & Cons
If you qualify for an uncontested divorce, using an online divorce service is a great way to save a lot of money. Keep in mind in Nevada, divorce can cost over $10,000 in fees if you file for divorce with an attorney.
We reviewed, rated, and ranked the best online divorce services available and our #1 choice is 3StepDivorce.
The Effect of Children on Divorce Laws
The presence or absence of children does affect divorce proceedings.
In most cases, courts will appoint a qualified expert to oversee the care and support of children during and after the divorce proceedings.
These individuals have powers similar to those of the court, including the authority to hold meetings, request evidence, and rule on the admissibility of evidence.
However, referees mostly don’t have final authority on matters.
Instead, they make recommendations to the judge, who can accept or reject the results as necessary.
Beyond this, children may also provide input on the proceedings.
Nevada's divorce courts usually judge this on a case-by-case basis while considering the best interests of the child. That can include:
- A child’s ability to understand the proceedings
- The personalities and behavior of the parents
- How the judge feels about a particular child’s ability to participate
There’s no fixed age when courts may start considering the wishes of children, although judges often start including that when they’re around 13 years old.
Older children may petition for things like staying with one parent to finish school in a particular area.
What Is a Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement is a written and legally enforceable plan for divorce.
It covers details like alimony, division of property, and child custody agreements.
This agreement is not the same thing as a prenuptial agreement.
A prenuptial agreement is something signed before marriage that can help speed up the process.
A separation agreement is a later document that becomes binding once a court grants the dissolution of the marriage.
A prenuptial agreement may stipulate the terms of the separation agreement, but it is not a separation agreement by itself.
Separation agreements are difficult to amend once granted.
Nevada's courts prefer to resolve all disagreements before granting the nullification, although they often accept amendments to agreements when the situation warrants it.
If couples cannot agree to the terms of a separation agreement, the court may decide on their behalf.
However, this is not the ideal outcome, and courts may try several other strategies first, such as ordering mediation before a neutral referee.
What Is Good/Bad Faith?
Some aspects of Nevada’s divorce laws involve “good faith” and “bad faith” actions.
This occurs mainly in NRS 125.141, discussing the division of assets between parties.
In this case, a judge attempts to determine if a rejected offer was fair and reasonable and if the rejection itself was done for unreasonable actions.
Courts usually prefer to be as equitable as possible, depending on the circumstances.
For example, suppose one party says they want to divide assets 50/50 and the other says they want 80/20 because they’re emotionally upset by the divorce.
In that case, a judge will probably consider it a bad faith rejection of the initial offer.
As Cornell Law School explains, good faith generally describes an honest attempt to reach a good outcome.
This can include things like faithfully performing duties, observing fair standards, and avoiding fraudulent intent.
When spouses clearly explain all assets to divide, the court regards it as a sign of good faith.
However, if an investigation finds someone hid assets in an attempt to keep them from being split with a partner, that would be operating in bad faith.
Courts often rule against or outright punish those acting in bad faith.
Good faith and bad faith usually apply when there’s disagreement on the offer.
If both parties have agreed to an offer, then it’s not being done in bad faith, even if the terms are heavily lopsided.
Residency Requirements in Nevada
Like most states, Nevada has residency requirements before you can file for divorce there.
Specifically, at least one party needs to live in Nevada and have remained there for at least six weeks.
It’s easier if the other party also lives in Nevada, but they can complete some things online or by mail if necessary.
Chapter 125.182 of Nevada’s statutes includes checking for this under the existing provisions.
You also need to plan on remaining in Nevada for the indefinite future.
It doesn’t mean you can’t have plans to move out later in life, but you can’t have any current plans or efforts to leave the state.
Things get a little more complicated if you can’t find the other party.
However, divorces can still proceed in that case, so people can’t simply hide to avoid getting served with the paperwork.
A person asking for a divorce (known in this circumstance as the plaintiff) must make reasonable efforts to locate the other party involved.
These efforts include checking with the post office, a voter’s registration, utility companies, tax assessor’s office, on social media, and with known current or former employers, friends, family, or neighbors.
If the result of all that is fruitless and they can’t be found or contacted within the last six months, Nevada allows what is known as divorce by publication.
As the courts explain, you’ll need to explain all of your attempts to find the other partner to the court, including mailing things to their last known address.
Courts expect due diligence here, which means making as many attempts to contact them as possible.
They might not accept your request for divorce by publication if you didn’t try hard enough to find the other party.
Once granted, however, you can publish the summons in a newspaper.
If the other party doesn’t respond to the summons and papers, the court usually enters things as a default.
This means that the plaintiff will typically get everything they’ve asked for, which could include full custody of children and complete ownership of assets.
Grounds For Divorce in Nevada
Nevada only allows three grounds for divorce.
It’s also a no-fault state, which means you don’t have to prove that your spouse did anything wrong before you can get a divorce.
The three grounds for divorce in Nevada are:
- Separated for one year
The first grounds for divorce in Nevada is legally declared insanity that’s lasted for at least two years.
Nevada uses the M’Naghten Rule to test for insanity.
Broadly, this is a test that means people are assumed to be sane and must be proven insane through an appropriate method.
The M’Naghten Rule generally stipulates that someone must meet one of these criteria:
- They have a mental illness to such an extent that they don’t understand the nature of what they’re doing, or
- They do not know that what they’re doing is wrong
Since sanity is assumed, proving insanity without medical evidence is difficult.
On the other hand, if someone does have medical evaluations indicating insanity, there’s a good chance they’re not fit to stand trial or meaningfully participate in divorce proceedings.
In these cases, courts might appoint someone to negotiate on behalf of the insane spouse and ensure they get a fair settlement.
Separated For One Year
The following reason for divorce in Nevada is being separated for at least one year.
In this context, separation means not living in the same place, although partners can interact in other places.
This reason is helpful mainly for people who are frequently overseas or away for extended periods.
For example, if one spouse is in the military and deployed for several years, the other may decide it’s not working out and choose to seek divorce because of the separation.
The final reason for separating in Nevada is generally the easiest to use.
Broadly, incompatibility simply means that one or both parties have decided things aren’t working out, so they want to separate and move on with their life.
Nevada is a no-fault state, so you don’t have to justify this incompatibility.
You do not need to prove that you tried to get along or that your partner did something to you or that the marriage is toxic.
Instead, all you have to do is say that you’re no longer compatible.
This is the only grounds for divorce that Nevada requires.
The other options are in place mainly to protect the defendants.
Specifically, the insanity separation clause indicates that one person is mentally incompetent and may need additional help in the proceedings.
The separation clause shows that people are already apart, so the divorce is just finalizing an already-existing situation.
Using a Nevada Divorce Attorney
Many people use a Nevada divorce attorney when filing for divorce.
This option is generally the best way to ensure you complete and submit all paperwork in the specified timeframes and you are represented professionally.
Otherwise, the divorce could be delayed or even refused by the court.
However, there’s one essential thing to consider: whether you need one or two attorneys.
This decision is a simple one.
If you have a contested divorce, each side needs a different attorney to represent their interests.
Keep in mind, you don't have to have an attorney represent you in your divorce, you always have the option to represent yourself.
However, you and your spouse can NEVER share the same attorney.
What Makes a Good Divorce Attorney?
A good Nevada divorce attorney has experience with the process, is good at negotiating, and is capable of explaining the various details of the process.
Most attorneys specialize in both contested and uncontested divorces, although some choose to only focus on one or the other.
Great divorce attorneys know how to collect information about assets and present it to the court in a way that helps your case the most.
Note that presentation, in this context, does not mean theatrical or exaggerated.
Instead, it means providing the information compellingly and convincingly.
As explained above, courts usually aim for a fair division of assets and acting in the best interests of any children involved.
Good lawyers try to demonstrate that they’re acting or negotiating in good faith, especially when asking for something other than an even split of assets.
How To Find a Good Divorce Attorney
There are several ways to find an excellent divorce attorney.
Many people start by talking to family or friends who have gotten divorced in Nevada and trying to get recommendations that way.
However, you shouldn’t accept someone just because someone recommended them.
Instead, it’s better to research that attorney and try to get more information about them.
Someone great at negotiating complicated divorces for celebrities might be good at their job, but they’re not necessarily a good choice for an uncontested separation.
Note that it’s usually better to start with local attorneys and only move into other cities if you don’t find anyone you like.
Reviews matter, and the more an attorney has, the better.
Interview Questions For Divorce Attorneys
Here are some basic questions to ask a lawyer before hiring them for a divorce.
Do you specialize in divorces, and how long have you been handling cases like mine?
Specialists are better than generalists in law.
Knowing their experience is crucial for deciding whether to trust them.
How long do you take to return my phone calls?
Lawyers have different timetables and often handle several cases simultaneously.
A typical delay of a few hours is fair and reasonable.
Expect to pay more if you want a lawyer to work exclusively on your case.
What is your strategy for my case?
Knowing how a lawyer intends to proceed can help you organize information and prepare for things.
How do you plan to charge me?
Make sure to ask about things like meeting with other lawyers, secretaries, and so on.
What costs besides yours do you expect?
The divorce proceeding may require things like visits to physicians and accountants, private investigators, and so on.
What’s your total estimate for this case?
This is a bit of a trick question.
Honest lawyers will tell you that the cost can vary greatly depending on how long it takes and how complicated it ends up being, especially if your partner starts changing their mind about things.
Attorneys who give very low estimates might not be totally honest.
Will anyone else in your office work on my case?
You deserve to know who has access to your sensitive information.
How do you predict a judge will rule?
Generally, the closer to an even split you are, the more likely a judge will simply grant it.
Requests that deviate too much are harder to predict.
Can you help me understand the tax implications of this divorce?
They might not be able to, but they can usually recommend an accountant who can figure out the financial implications.
Is the Initial Consultation Free?
Most reputable divorce attorneys offer free consultations when you first bring your case to them.
You can do this in person or over the phone.
Initial consultations usually run-up to an hour, and you can expect to share numerous intimate and private details of your life during the talk.
These details may include your real reasons for separating, financial affairs, assets, medical issues, criminal history, and anything else that could affect the case.
Once a lawyer understands your position, they can determine if they’re a good fit for your case.
If they aren’t, they can often recommend someone who is. Remember that the lawyer is interviewing you, too.
They want to know that you can pay their fees and generally be good clients.
Is the Meeting Confidential?
In most cases, yes.
The attorney-client privilege applies even when you’re just getting an initial consultation and haven’t hired the attorney yet.
Most meetings with a divorce lawyer will be confidential and aren’t subject to the discovery process or testifying under oath.
It means you can be completely candid with the attorney.
Pros of Using an Attorney
There are several pros to using a divorce attorney in Nevada.
Here are some of the main reasons you should do it.
- Attorneys have legal knowledge. They understand things like the details of Nevada’s laws, what you’re entitled to receive, and what elements could affect your case. Lawyers also understand what courts will focus on and prioritize when deciding whether to grant specific requests from parties.
- Attorneys can reduce your stress. Divorces are stressful enough for most people, especially if they’re contested. Working with an attorney means you have an expert who fully understands the process and mainly needs you to provide certain information and signatures. That frees you up to spend your time preparing for the next part of your life.
- You’ll get help with paperwork. Divorces involve quite a lot of paperwork from everyone involved, often to the point of submitting several different forms at each stage of the process. That’s not even getting into matters like discovery, which can get extremely complicated. Lawyers also help ensure that everything gets filed on time.
- Lawyers are generally neutral. While an attorney works for you, they don’t have an emotional stake in your relationship. That means they can be far more fair and unbiased about things like dividing assets and negotiating for custody of children. This factor is particularly true when lawyers negotiate with each other.
- Most divorce lawyers are affordable. Naturally, lengthy and complicated cases will get expensive. However, honest lawyers try to minimize their time working for you, so you don’t need to pay any more than necessary. It will never be cheaper than trying to do everything yourself but it might be worthwhile to pay a professional.
Cons of Using an Attorney
Attorneys are helpful for divorce cases, but they’re not the right choice for everyone.
Here are some reasons to avoid hiring one.
- Lawyers do cost money. While a good lawyer keeps their prices reasonable, they can be too expensive for most clients to hire for extended periods. This consideration may encourage you to file an uncontested divorce to keep costs down even if you want to contest things.
- You may disagree. You give up an element of control when you bring in a third party to assist you. You may disagree with your attorney’s suggestions and might find it challenging to navigate this situation. Attorney's are supposed to advise you and represent what you want to do but people can have personality conflicts.
- Lawyers can cause additional drama. People can react if they’re surprised when you hire a lawyer. They may start making assumptions about your plans or panic and do something drastic. More emotional people are more likely to create or respond to drama, real or perceived, during a divorce case. Please note, this typically only happens in an uncontested divorce.
Filing for Divorce in Nevada
Here’s what you should know about the process for filing for divorce in Nevada.
Pro Tip: The information below is perfect for you to get an overview of the divorce filing process and also use as a guide if you will be filing for divorce on your own. However, if you are using an attorney, their team will typically be taking care of these steps as part of their proper representation of you as a client.
Preparing Your Divorce Forms
The first step is preparing the forms for divorce.
These are generally available from the state’s self-help website, although your attorney can also provide you with copies as needed.
Make sure you read and understand the basics of court forms before you start filling anything out.
Which forms you need depends on the type of divorce you’re filing for.
If you’re filing for a contested divorce, fill out the Civil Cover Sheet, the Summons, and the Divorce Complaint (with or without kids, as appropriate).
You can also expect to fill out a Decree of Divorce, an Affidavit of Resident Witness, and a Request for Submission form.
If you’re filing for an uncontested divorce, fill out the Cover Sheet, Confidential Information page, the Affidavit of Resident Witness, the Joint Petition, and the Divorce Decree.
All forms are available on the state’s website, linked above, and are largely self-explanatory for their contents.
However, you may need to sign jointly with the spouse you’re divorcing or separately if you intend to serve them with the forms later.
Note that the Affidavit of Resident Witness needs to be filled out by someone outside your family.
Your attorney can help if you have any problems, questions, or concerns about filling out these forms.
Make sure to ask a qualified expert if you have any questions on any part of this process because mistakes could stop the entire process.
If you want assistance with preparing your divorce forms appropriately and instructions on how to file them correctly, using an online divorce service is a great idea to save a lot of money and hassle.
We reviewed, rated, and ranked the best online divorce services available and our #1 choice is 3StepDivorce.
Filing Your Divorce Forms
The next step in petitioning for divorce is filing the forms with the court.
In this case, filing means visiting the clerk at an appropriate courthouse (usually a county courthouse) and providing them with three copies of each document.
Some courthouses have an electronic filing system that you can use instead of going there in person.
If you’re not sure which process to use, find the website for your county courthouse and follow their instructions for filing forms.
This process usually involves paying a small fee for each document or form you file with the court.
If you’re working with an attorney, they’ll usually do this on your behalf, so you don’t have to worry about making sure the court gets the right paperwork at the correct time.
Note that filing documents can take a little while if the courthouse is busy, so make sure you have plenty of time if you’re doing it yourself.
Serving Your Spouse
Serving your spouse only applies if you’re petitioning for divorce separately.
Joint petitions don’t need this step because each party effectively gets served when filing the original petition.
This process begins right after you file your initial forms with the court.
“Serving” your spouse, in the context of divorce, means giving them a copy of the Complaint for Divorce and the Summons to the court, as well as copies of any other documents you filed with the court.
Note the important word here: copy.
Do not give your spouse the original paperwork you got back from the court.
Instead, give them photocopies or another suitable duplication of the files and keep the originals for yourself.
You generally have 120 days to serve your spouse before the case is dismissed.
If you can’t locate your spouse, you can explain this to the court and ask them to proceed with the case regardless.
Note that there are very specific steps to take when serving divorce papers to your spouse.
It’s better to have them delivered by a disinterested outside party, which means you cannot use your lawyer or any family members.
Many people use the local sheriff’s office for serving papers, although you can also ask someone else that both you and your spouse know.
If you go this route, they’ll need to file an Affidavit of Service with the court.
You can serve the papers yourself, but the other party must expressly accept this and file a form detailing their acceptance.
If they refuse you, you must rely on a disinterested party instead.
Defendants in a divorce case can be served almost anywhere, including at home or work.
It’s helpful to use sheriffs, constables, or people in similar public service roles because they’re usually allowed into private areas while on business.
Otherwise, they may have to wait until the defendant comes out of a secluded area.
Finally, remember that they must personally and directly receive the documents from the person serving them.
You cannot simply set the papers down on their porch and leave.
Whoever is serving them must physically hand the documents to them to ensure they receive them.
If you cannot reach them normally, you may petition the court to serve the defendant through other means.
The court may allow serving someone through email, texting, social media, or other methods.
Expect to fill out additional forms for this, and do not do it unless and until a judge approves your strategy.
If you cannot reach them at all, you can serve the papers by publication, which means publishing in an appropriate newspaper (typically one serving the area of their last known address).
This avenue is the last resort to serve documents, but it is acceptable if nothing else works.
Filing for divorce generally requires extensive financial disclosures.
Doing this helps ensure neither party is hiding assets that should be subject to divorce proceedings.
The financial disclosure form covers both assets and expenses, including job income, food and utility costs, rental income, applicable deductions, and so on.
This form is one of the most extended and complex to fill out when petitioning for divorce.
Attorneys can often help with these, but if you have exceptionally complicated finances, you may need to talk to an accountant as well.
Online Divorce in Nevada
If you’re filing for an uncontested divorce in Nevada, you can save yourself some trouble by filing everything online.
Online divorce services provide copies of paperwork, instructions, and general advice and support for going through the divorce process.
They’ll file the paperwork with the court, leaving you free to focus on other matters.
This service is beneficial if you cannot visit the court for some reason.
However, while practical, these services are not quite perfect, and there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind while going through the process.
How To Qualify For an Online Divorce in Nevada
The first step for qualifying for an online divorce in Nevada is making sure it’s uncontested.
Otherwise, you can expect to go in front of a judge at least once to resolve any outstanding issues, and you may have to go several times.
If it’s uncontested, start by finding and choosing the best online divorce service.
Try to find reviews to make sure they’re a legitimate service.
Doing this will help you and your spouse avoid scams and identity theft while going through the separation process.
Next, fill out the forms that your online service provides through their user interface.
These are then usually downloaded digitally, but some companies will also mail you physical copies of the paperwork on request.
From there, you can either file the paperwork yourself or see if your online service can do it on your behalf.
They usually charge extra for this, but some allow it.
If the court accepts the documents during the filing step, all that’s left is waiting for the final approval and signature from the judge.
This process tends to take several weeks, even in the best circumstances, but filing is when the court checks for errors on the document.
If they don’t complain at that point, they’re probably not going to later.
Do You Still Need To Go To Court?
Maybe. There are a few circumstances when you might need to go to court physically, even if you’re filing for a divorce online.
The most common scenario is that you’re filing the paperwork yourself.
If this happens, you’ll be visiting the clerk at the courthouse to deliver the paperwork and get everything authorized there.
Some people prefer to do this instead of paying an extra fee to have someone else file it.
Attorneys rarely charge extra for this because filing paperwork is part of their job.
The following reason for going to court is somewhat less common.
While judges usually accept joint petitions for divorce as-is, deviation from the usual terms could result in getting called into court to explain or at least verify the authenticity of the documents.
This scenario might occur if there’s an unusual division of assets or the judge is concerned for the well-being of children.
Going through a divorce remotely only works when you’re doing it uncontested, and the judge doesn’t need to decide anything.
If you disagree on things, you might be able to settle it in mediation with a third party, at which point you might avoid going into court.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Divorce in Nevada?
As any competent lawyer can tell you, the actual timeline for getting a divorce in Nevada varies based on several factors.
Uncontested divorces are easily the fastest, usually resolving within several weeks of filing.
However, this timeline gets a lot longer if you’re divorcing by publication or not petitioning the court for a summary judgment.
Contested divorces are rarely over in less than three months and can easily stretch up to two years in complicated cases.
Here are the most common factors that can affect the timeline for getting a divorce in Nevada:
- Child Custody: Custody disputes tend to be particularly contentious. While the court may order things a certain way if one parent is better prepared to care for children, families who are both capable of caring for them rarely back down easily. Custody proceedings may go to outside mediation or arbitration to settle it.
- Child Support: This isn’t the same thing as child custody. Child support payments can vary significantly based on factors like earnings potential and available assets. Parties can agree to waive child support, pay it over time, or even pay it in one lump fee.
- Child Expenses: The parent with custody of a child isn’t always responsible for their expenses. There could be disagreements on how to pay for their education and medical bills, insurance coverage, and extracurricular expenses.
- Division of Property: Most couples divide their communal assets 50/50 during a divorce. Any refusals or arguments here could significantly slow down the timeline for getting a divorce in Nevada. Note that private property, owned before the marriage, isn’t generally divided in Nevada.
- Division of Debt: Many debts don’t disappear just because you’re separating. To put it another way, most people don’t want to take on any more debt than necessary. Deciding who is responsible for a percentage of each debt can be contentious. The bigger the debt, the more this is likely to slow down the proceedings.
- Alimony: Alimony is an additional monthly payment, usually from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning one. The primary purpose is to help the other spouse get back to a good economic position since they’re likely to lose a considerable amount of household income at the end of the divorce. Arguments over alimony amounts are typical.
The things above are some of the most common factors affecting divorce timelines.
Here are some additional factors that can affect the divorce timelines in Nevada:
- Accounting: This doesn’t take long for households with few assets, but those with complex investments and asset ownership might need some time to calculate the value of everything and determine how to divide it.
- Case Loads: Divorce rates tend to be relatively steady, but sudden changes in the number of people asking for one can increase or reduce the timetable. These changes can be hard to predict ahead of time, although an experienced attorney can tell you when delays tend to be shorter each year.
- Contacting Your Spouse: If you can’t reach your spouse, attempting to do so could delay the divorce process by up to several months. Courts expect you to make every reasonable effort to contact them before they finalize the divorce.
- Document Errors: Courts check for the accuracy of document completion when they accept it for filing. If the clerk notices a problem, they might return the documents and tell you to correct the errors. Some errors can’t be fixed on the spot.
- Mediation: Mediation is when you and your spouse try to come to an agreement on contested matters in front of a neutral arbiter who manages the discussion. You can do this voluntarily, but in some situations, the court may order you to do it before proceeding with the case.
- Name Changes: This rarely delays cases. However, in contexts where someone is using their name as a brand for business reasons, but the other spouse has control of the business, this can become a point of contention.
- Judicial Concern: Finally, judges can typically pause or delay things for almost any reason if they’re concerned about some aspect of the case. This practice isn’t common, exactly, but they could do something like delaying their approval of the divorce until a child has finished their school year.
The divorce is finalized when you file the Decree of Divorce with the clerk at the courthouse.
The judge signing the decree does not finalize it.
Instead, you’ll need to prove both spouses have a copy of the signed decree, either by being there together or having proof of mailing it, and only then can you file it with the clerk.
Divorce Costs in Nevada
Divorce costs vary in Nevada.
Actual costs usually include various fixed fees (filing costs, etc.), variable fees (attorneys), and occasionally indirect costs such as loss of income from work so you can take the time to fill out paperwork.
Here are some standard ranges for divorce costs in this state.
Remember that actual prices can change at any time, so treat these as estimates instead of guarantees.
Look on the websites for courts and outside services to get up-to-date information on prices.
Court fees are usually between $300 and $400 for the petition, along with small filing fees for each document you deliver.
This money helps pay for the court’s time in handling your case, including various support staff members beyond the clerk and the judge.
Courts may charge additional fees if your case takes an unusually long time or needs several hearings.
However, this is the only fee that’s generally standard between all participants in a divorce case.
This aspect is where pricing starts to vary.
A good rule of thumb is that simple uncontested divorce cases are the most affordable when using a lawyer.
If you’re only using a lawyer for the paperwork, costs could be as low as a few hundred dollars.
This isn’t so much hiring an attorney for help as having someone look over the documents and, usually, file them on your behalf.
You’ll still need to pay the court fees in addition to the attorney’s costs, though.
For complex cases, most people get a bill of anywhere from $2000 to $10,000 or more.
Lawyers typically charge by time spent on your case, so costs will go up appropriately if they need to spend weeks or months helping you argue aspects of the case.
However, you don’t necessarily need to pay these fees yourself.
Courts often award attorneys’ costs to lower-income members of a case, especially if the other spouse has a much better income and can easily afford the fees.
Most families won’t see attorneys' fees going beyond this range, except for complex cases.
However, celebrities or people with exceptionally high assets and long, tense negotiations could break through the regular ceiling for costs.
Litigation costs are difficult to predict ahead of time.
In general, this price depends on how much help you need from the court during the process.
If you have to meet before a judge a dozen times before things get settled, these will be drastically higher than if you only see the judge once.
Similarly, the court may expect you to pay for any help they hire on your behalf.
That could include childcare specialists, psychological examination, private investigations, or almost anything else.
Most people try to keep these costs as low as possible, but refusal to agree on things could trigger many types of unanticipated costs.
Mediation is usually a way to reduce costs when you have a dispute.
Most mediators are significantly less expensive than a hearing with a judge, and that’s on top of offering a neutral referee who can guide discussions and help you reach a fair arrangement.
Mediators often have a lot of experience handling divorce cases but don’t expect them to provide too much input.
They’re not around to bias the proceedings, only to manage them, and any misconduct could be grounds for starting the negotiations under someone else.
That delays things and further increases the costs for the case.
Online Divorce Service
Finally, online divorce services have their own fees.
These are often in the $100 to $200 range, not counting any additional fees for filing the paperwork with the court on your behalf.
That will usually be another few hundred dollars, minimum, and it can go up if you need to file additional documents during the divorce proceedings.
If you want assistance with preparing your divorce forms appropriately and instructions on how to file them correctly, using an online divorce service is a great idea to save a lot of money and hassle.
We reviewed, rated, and ranked the best online divorce services available and our #1 choice is 3StepDivorce.
Custody Considerations in Nevada
The primary consideration for custody in Nevada is the best interests of the child, or children, at issue for a custody hearing.
This consideration takes explicit priority over the convenience for the parents or what might seem “fair” to them, given their current status and arrangements.
In other words, a judge can overrule many otherwise settled things for the sake of a child.
The primary area of law covering this is NRS Chapter 125C, which details state policies, awards of custody, visitation rights, definitions, miscellaneous provisions, and related topics.
Note that parents generally have joint custody until and unless ordered otherwise by the court.
Here are the significant considerations courts will consider for determining custody:
- The Minor’s Wishes: If children are old enough, the court may ask them for input on who they want to live with. This answer is often an important factor in the court’s final decision, though judges can, and do, skip it as necessary.
- Nominations For Guardians: Sometimes, parents may want to nominate a guardian for the child instead of seeking custody. Judges will often attempt to determine if the guardian is a suitable caretaker rather than a front for getting around the court’s orders.
- Ease of Frequent Associations: Courts prefer letting children have access to both parents. If one parent is more likely to help the child continue their relationship with a noncustodial parent, that can be a major influence.
- Level of Conflict: Spouses who separate on friendly terms can often get the custodial arrangements they want. Spouses who have intense conflict may see visitation rights limited to help shield the child from any blowback.
- Ability To Meet Needs: Courts also favor custodial arrangements with the parent who can best meet the child’s needs. This consideration includes meeting their financial needs in particular, but the court may also consider special medical needs and similar details.
- Parental Health: Courts generally favor placing children with physically and mentally healthy parents, as this indicates a better ability to care for a child. If both parents are sick, the court may enforce guardianship instead.
- The Minor’s Needs: This includes physical, emotional, and general developmental needs. The usual goal here is to cause as little emotional turbulence as possible.
- Parent-Child Relationships: Courts look favorably on good parent-child relationships. If only one parent has a close emotional bond, courts tend to favor that.
- Sibling Relationships: This is a relatively minor consideration, but courts do try to ensure siblings can maintain relationships, too.
- History of Abuse/Neglect: Courts do not like either of these. A demonstrated record of abuse can lead to one parent being shut out entirely or limited to close supervision.
- History of Domestic Violence: Generally, domestic violence is more severe than abuse or neglect. This abuse isn’t limited to the child, either. Violence against anyone in the household can be a significant issue in custody decisions.
- Kidnapping Attempts: Some parents resort to drastic measures to try and keep custody of a child, up to and including kidnapping them and bringing them out of state. This behavior is usually a major red flag for the courts.
Child Support Considerations in Nevada
Child support considerations aren’t as crucial to the court as the primary custody arrangements, but this is a common point of dispute in separating partners and a frequent trigger for mediation.
In most cases, child support goes from the non-residential parent to the residential parent.
Generally, a non-residential parent hosts the child less than 40% of the time for sole custody cases and more than 40% of the time (but usually less than 50%) for joint custody cases.
The easiest way to think of this is that the residential parent is the one the child spends the most time with.
From there, Nevada uses a formula based on a percent of the non-residential parent’s overall income, as follows:
- One Child: 16%
- Two Children: 22%
- Three Children: 26%
- Four Children: 28%
- Five Children: 30%
The Nevada Court system regularly publishes guidelines for child support payments and maximum amounts here.
These can change from year to year, so it’s essential to check the latest updates.
Here are some of the other things the court will consider if you can’t agree on child support arrangements.
- Deductions: Some deductions can apply to the standard formulas, especially including childcare costs and any health insurance fees. Other major childcare expenses could also qualify for a deduction, but you may need to ask an attorney to determine what qualifies for a deduction and what doesn’t.
- Low-Income Parents: If you’re paying child support but don’t have much income, you might need to pay less than the usual amounts. Actual percentages range from a low of about 10.5% for one child at the lowest income brackets to as much as 40% of your income for ten children.
- Parenting Time: Unusual amounts of parenting time can qualify someone for special consideration under the law. For example, if a parent who is a non-resident ends up caring for children 75% of the time because the other parent keeps asking them to help out, they’re doing all of the actual work and probably won’t have to pay as much, if anything at all.
- Pre-Existing Arrangements: Courts usually consider existing child support and alimony costs that people have. If you’re already paying child support to someone else, courts may reduce what you owe or even waive it entirely if it’s an inappropriately large amount.
Most of these considerations review your actual income.
Low-income parents are more likely to benefit from deductions and exceptions.
However, if someone makes five million dollars a year, they probably won’t get nearly as many benefits or discounts even if the child support ends up being a massive part of their income.
Finally, keep in mind that the court may reject anything you’ve agreed to if they don’t think it’s in the child’s best interests.
For this reason, you should prioritize the health and well-being of children when deciding on child support options, even if that’s less convenient for you.
Alimony Considerations in Nevada
Alimony is part of NRS Chapter 125 and comes in four types:
- Temporary: Temporary support occurs if one spouse depends on the other and needs help to cover their living expenses while the divorce case happens. Essentially, this is just alimony for the duration of the court case.
- Short-Term: Short-term support can go beyond the divorce itself, although usually for no longer than 12 months. It primarily exists to facilitate a transition to a different lifestyle for someone who can take care of themselves after that.
- Rehabilitative: This is similar to short-term support but focuses on allowing the dependent spouse to get new education or skills to help support themselves. This form of support is relatively standard.
- Permanent: Finally, permanent alimony is most common with long-term marriages where one spouse no longer has a reasonable chance to earn new income or find another job.
Beyond the four types of alimony considerations, courts in Nevada consider eleven main factors when determining who qualifies for alimony and, if they do, how much they should get.
Here are the considerations.
- Financial Considerations: If one spouse has a substantial income and the other has none, alimony is likely. However, if both spouses have enough income to support themselves, courts may decide that maintenance is entirely unnecessary.
- Nature and Value of Personal Property: Courts usually look at a spouse’s personal property to see if they have more income or potential for income. If a poorer spouse still has a paid-off house and minimal expenses, they probably won’t get as much alimony.
- Contribution To Marital Property: This covers jointly-owned property. If a poorer spouse adds a lot of value to the marital property during the marriage, they may be entitled to larger payments.
- Length of Marriage: Longer marriages usually mean more alimony. Courts rarely award large payments, if any at all, to couples who were only married a few weeks.
- Each Partner’s Status: In this context, status includes health, age, current income, and realistic earning capacity.
- Standard of Living: Courts try to avoid having too great of disruption to someone’s standard of living. While some change is inevitable when a divorce occurs, some spouses do not have the skills or experience to change to a different standard of living immediately.
- Recipient Spouse’s Career: Spouses with great careers can usually pick them back up again. Spouses with few or no career options may qualify for more significant payments.
- Obtainment of Skills: If a spouse obtained marketable skills, training, or education while married, that could reduce alimony payments because they’re already better-prepared to get a new job.
- Contribution As Homemaker: Spouses who didn’t work but did a lot of work to maintain the home often qualify for more payments.
- Awarded Property: Any property the judge is awarding the supported spouse will usually factor into alimony payments. If the supported spouse gets a lopsided amount of property, alimony goes down.
- Physical and Mental Condition: This applies to both parties and mainly focuses on their health and ability to work. If the providing spouse is sicker or unable to make all of the payments, they may not have to.
Division of Assets
Division of assets is one of the most contentious parts of many divorce cases.
If couples can’t agree, courts usually divide community property equally while allowing each side to keep their separate property, as explained in NRS Chapter 125 and related laws.
Here are how things tend to go for major asset categories.
Real estate usually ends with each side having partial ownership of the property, although one partner can usually buy out the remaining half of the property if their partner agrees.
Similarly, courts may decide to give one spouse most or all of one type of asset and the other spouse a different asset.
This arrangement can help keep things together when it’s difficult to split their value equally.
401k, IRA, Investments
Retirement and investment income are among the most challenging assets to divide during a divorce.
The reason for this is because they may be partially communal and partially separate.
Furthermore, determining how much is separate can be a long, complex process.
If a couple has investments like this, at least some of them may need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which legally recognizes an alternate payee’s rights to receive some or all of a retirement plan.
Not all investments are subject to division, especially if begun before the marriage and not touched in the meantime.
Either way, this is one of the most common cases where accountants get involved.
The need to evaluate the actual value and ownership of each part of a couple’s investments and retirement accounts can delay an otherwise straightforward divorce case.
Like investments, dividing a business can be highly tricky during divorce proceedings.
In many cases, this is the most significant asset a couple has, and both members may have contributed considerable time and effort to building and running the business.
Nevada tends to split profits equally during divorce, but the divorce will require assessing the value of the business.
Many people hire third-party analysts to provide an accurate value of the company, including its expected growth, industry trends, and potential sales value.
Possible results here can include each party holding partial ownership, one side buying out the other to get total control, or selling the business and splitting the profits.
Monthly payments are usually acceptable for a buyout, so you don’t necessarily need to have the total amount in cash when divorcing.
One other option for dividing businesses is an unequal division of other assets in the divorce.
For example, one spouse might get total ownership of a house while the other receives the entirety of the business.
Courts are usually willing to accept the uneven division of assets in this manner as long as the total value each partner is getting ends up relatively similar.
Other assets that can be divided in a divorce case will mostly fall under major and minor assets.
These aren’t legal terms, exactly, but courts recognize that some things are fundamentally more valuable than others.
A major asset is generally something worth at least several thousand dollars or something uniquely special and important.
For example, pets are typically treated as special assets, and partners may be entitled to visitation rights for them, separate from any visitation rights for children that could be involved.
Expensive jewelry, vehicles, electronics, and club memberships are also things that could be major assets.
Minor assets usually include things like plates, household cleaning supplies, most clothes, and other low-value assets.
These can be difficult to divide equally, so most couples end up either selling them and splitting the value or sorting them into piles of roughly equal value.
Common-Law Marriage Considerations in Nevada
Nevada does not recognize common-law marriages.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a common-law marriage is a situation where people are effectively married but haven’t purchased a marriage license or gone through a ceremony.
States don’t recognize common-law marriages in the same way.
The important thing to note here is that because Nevada doesn’t recognize it at all, they won’t provide divorce services for it, either.
You’ll have to travel somewhere else to get divorced in this circumstance.
Attorneys cannot help in this situation.
They cannot change the law to help you get a divorce in a common-law marriage, and judges similarly have no discretion on this matter.
However, if both partners are willing to negotiate, a divorce attorney could help hire mediators and otherwise create legally binding agreements that conform with Nevada’s laws.
It’s not the same thing as a divorce, but if you’re in Nevada without a formal marriage and have no actual ability to move, this could help you split apart.
Also, if you entered into a common-law marriage in another state, that state may have guidelines for allowing a divorce, even if you’ve since moved out.
This happens on a state-by-state basis, but a qualified attorney can research your options and help you decide on the best way to separate from your partner.
Alternatives To Divorce in Nevada
Divorce isn’t the only way to separate from a partner in Nevada.
Here are some common alternatives that people consider, including how they apply in this state.
Nevada recognizes legal separation, which is essentially a temporary divorce instead of a permanent one.
This separation mostly follows the same procedures, although the paperwork is a little different.
You can do an informal legal separation at any time and don’t need the court’s permission. Such setups are entirely between you and your spouse, but you both hold all of the same legal responsibilities as if you weren’t separated.
A formal separation allows for maintenance actions like debt division, child custody, and alimony payments.
However, a legal separation does not permit child support orders or forcing significant changes, such as selling a jointly-owned home.
These are always intended to be temporary, so courts try to avoid things with permanent impact.
Couples can use legal separation for various purposes.
It can be a good way to start living apart while waiting for a later divorce or a way to try living separately to see if each side is happier that way.
Separations aren’t as final as divorce, so they’re generally more straightforward, faster, and cheaper to get.
Annulment is another alternative to divorce in Nevada but it's hard to qualify.
Rather than separating normally, this is a legal recognition that the marriage should not have existed to start with, and therefore be treated as such.
Nevada only has a few grounds for annulment, including:
- Lack of consent from parents or guardians, if necessary for the marriage to occur
- Lack of understanding about the marriage, including because of insanity
- Lies or fraud from one member inducing the other to marry
- Spouses being too close to each other genetically
- Either spouse is married to someone else at the same time
As you can see by looking at these reasons, they mostly come down to “Hey, the marriage was illegal to start with and I didn’t know that.”
Annulments otherwise follow a similar process to divorce cases, including the opportunity for the spouse to respond with a counterclaim.
Note that children are still considered legitimate, even through an annulment.
That means parents remain parents, and fathers, in particular, are still treated as the legal father for any child born in that time.
However, spouses usually don’t have the same responsibilities to each other as a regular divorce demands.
Nevada’s reasons for annulment are limited, so you cannot seek this as a way to get out of paying child support or alimony unless you qualify for it.
Keep in mind that all of the information above applies exclusively to legal annulment in Nevada.
It is not the same thing as the annulment of marriage in a religion, which must follow the rules of that faith to be considered valid.
It is possible to have a legal annulment without a religious one or the other way around.
Work It Out Together
Another alternative to divorce is trying to work things out and stay together.
This option is essentially the private version of counseling, which we’ll get to in a moment.
Working things out means discussing things honestly and openly with your partner and trying to find common ground or acceptable compromises on whatever is encouraging you to split.
This is a good step to take even if you expect you’ll divorce in the end.
Nevada doesn’t require proof of fault or problems for getting a divorce, but showing that you and your partner made an honest, good-faith effort to resolve your differences first can be helpful in custody and child support hearings.
Specifically, this shows that you tried to create the best situation for the children but couldn’t — courts like seeing that type of effort.
Another option you can try instead of divorce is seeking counseling.
Courts may order you to do this and see if you can resolve your issues, but you can try it before filing your paperwork or hiring an attorney.
The important thing to remember about counseling is that you need a good counselor.
Some counselors may not be familiar with your situation or the exact issues in your marriage and could end up giving bad advice.
That’s why it’s essential to research the counselor first, just as you’d research a lawyer.
Considering a divorce can really take an emotional toll on even the strongest people.
If you are in need of therapy with both privacy and convenience, we recommend Online-Therapy.com. Their incredible service gives you access to instant professional help, on any device, wherever you are in the world.
Open marriages are an option if the primary issue pushing for divorce is sexual.
Specifically, this is an arrangement where a couple agrees to accept sexual activities with people outside the marriage without treating it as infidelity.
For example, one spouse may accept an open marriage as a way to keep the stability in a house while raising children.
This setup still requires partnership on matters like finances but offers moderate amounts of flexibility for couples who can accept it.
This arrangement can be a better option for couples are undecided on divorcing and don't want to sneak around and date during a divorce.
A parenting marriage is a somewhat unusual alternative to divorce, where a couple stays together to raise children without any expectation of romance.
Specifically, it puts the health and well-being of the children first.
Both partners are legally married and have all the rights and responsibilities thereof but may have few or no interactions outside of raising the kids.
Some parenting marriages are also open marriages where partners are allowed to look for other people.
Individuals may go this route to find someone they want to marry after their children have become adults and no longer need the care and support of having their parents around.
Lauren Cook-McKay is the Vice President of Marketing at DivorceAnswers.com. She holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from the University of San Diego and applies her training in private practice to helping couples struggling in their marriage. She believes there is hope in all marriages and strives to provide therapy to couples that will lead them back towards a loving marriage, or an amicable divorce that brings peace and closure.