Beginner’s Guide to Divorce Laws in Nevada
Let’s face it. Divorce is complicated.
You need to know how the divorce laws work in Nevada.
We put together this beginner’s guide to help you understand the laws.
Let’s jump in.
- Community Property and Asset Division
- Alimony and Child Support
- Custody and Visitation
- Divorce Process
- Other Divorce Issues
Community Property and Asset Division
Marital Property in Nevada
Marital property is also known as community property in Nevada. It is all property acquired by either spouse during a marriage. The exceptions are when a prenuptial agreement states otherwise, a court decides to the contrary, or the property is determined to be separate property through legal means or state laws.
Just like marital assets, debts are also considered community debts in Nevada. Both spouses are equally responsible for making sure they are paid.
When there is not enough community property to satisfy a debt, the debtor can then seize the separate property of either spouse. The exception here is if a spouse incurred a debt before the marriage, in which case neither the community nor the other spouse is responsible for its repayment.
Division of Assets in Nevada
Nevada is a community property state. This means all marital assets are split 50/50 in a divorce.
There are a few instances where property will not be divided equally. This can happen when there is a prenuptial agreement that provides for the division of property in a divorce or a couple reaches a settlement agreement that splits the property other than equally. A divorce court may also decide to split the property unequally if it finds that one spouse has wasted or hid marital assets.
There can also be challenges when one spouse receives an inheritance or a gift that is considered separate property but then proceeds to commingle it with marital property assets. For example, if a spouse receives a lump sum of cash as a gift and deposits it into a joint bank account, this could be considered commingling.
Gifts and Inherited Property
Nevada law states that any assets acquired before a marriage, or property such as a gift, acquired after marriage by “gift, bequest, devise, descent, or an award for personal injury damages”, including the profits from such property, is considered to be each spouse’s separate property. This also includes inherited property.
If the other spouse was not mentioned as a recipient of a gift or inheritance, and the asset was not commingled in a joint account or otherwise blended into the marriage, then it is considered a separate asset.
When there are challenges to this, the burden of proof is up to the spouse who claimed the property as separate.
One way to protect an inheritance or a gift is to have a spouse sign a postnuptial agreement whereby he or she agrees that the inheritance or gift is the spouses, no matter how it is used in the marriage.
Pensions, IRAs, 401Ks and Retirement Plans
Pensions, IRAs, 401Ks and retirement plans are treated as marital property in Nevada. Under state laws, amounts that were accumulated during the marriage are subject to a 50/50 division just like other community property assets.
Because pensions can be a large asset, it may be possible to work out a settlement that allows one spouse to keep a larger part of the pension in exchange for less interest in another large community property asset, such as a home.
Legally splitting pensions and other retirement funds must be approved as part of a divorce decree. Once issued, a qualified domestic relations order, more commonly referred to as a QDRO, is implemented.
The QDRO is a legal document must be approved by the courts and then it can be submitted to a retirement plan administrator who must also approve it. This establishes that a spouse can be considered an alternate payee, and the retirement vehicle is then divided according to the specifics contained in the QDRO.
The easiest way to get a QDRO is through online services, though an attorney can draft one for you as well. Companies like QDRO Counsel are dedicated to drafting professional QDROs without causing any undue stress.
Alimony and Child Support
Alimony in Nevada
A judge is not required to grant alimony in Nevada and in many cases that is the case.
Courts will look at several factors to determine if alimony is appropriate. These factors include:
- Financial situation of each spouse
- Amount of income and earning capacity of each spouse
- Amount of property owned by each spouse
- Financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage
- Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
- Length of the marriage
- Education and career skills of each spouse prior to marriage
- Age and health
- Other financial resources of each spouse
None of the above factors reference infidelity in any way. The courts will not punish a spouse who commits adultery through an adjustment of spousal support. It is considered a non-factor.
In some cases, a judge will grant temporary spousal support. This provides for a spouse who would otherwise have difficulty providing for themselves during the course of the divorce.
Read: Everything You Need to Know About Alimony
Child Support in Nevada
Child support in Nevada is based on a percentage of a parent’s gross income. That percentage is impacted by the number of children there are in a family. There is a base percentage amount that is used to calculate child support:
- one child, 18 percent
- two children, 25 percent
- three children, 29 percent
- four children, 31 percent
- each additional child, add an additional 2 percent
In addition, the court has a lot of discretion when it comes to adjusting the actual amount of child support, based on the following factors:
- You and your spouse’s relative incomes.
- Childcare costs.
- Special educational needs.
- Your child’s age.
- Whether you or your spouse is legally obligated to support anyone else.
- The value of any services you or your spouse provides for your child.
- If the wife is pregnant, any reasonable related expenses.
- The cost of transportation for your child to and from visitation if the custodial parent moved with your child.
- The amount of time your child spends with each of you.
- Any other necessary expenses for the benefit of your child.
Custody and Visitation
Child Custody in Nevada
There are two types of child custody that must be determined:
- Legal custody determines how involved each parent is in big decisions such as where a child goes to school, religion, medical and dental care, and other major life issues.
- Physical custody addresses where a child will live and with whom. Visitation is then negotiated based your physical custody arrangement.
As it is in all states, child custody in Nevada is based on the best interests of a child. Absent negative issues such as domestic violence or drug/alcohol abuse, the goal is to ensure that a child has a frequent and continuing relationship with each parent.
There are several factors that impact exact how custody and visitation are defined:
- Your child’s relationship with each of you.
- Your child’s relationship with his or her siblings.
- Your child’s preferences, if he or she is old enough to establish a preference.
- You and your spouse’s wishes.
- Which of you is more likely to allow the other to have frequent and continuing contact with your child.
- The level of conflict between you and your spouse.
- You and your spouse’s abilities to cooperate to meet your child’s needs.
- You and your spouse’s mental and physical health your child’s physical, developmental and emotional needs.
If requested, the court may grant visitation to you’re a child’s grandparents or to a person with whom the child has lived and has developed a close relationship.
If you or your spouse has a substance abuse problem, it could have an impact on your custodial rights as a parent in a divorce.
Nevada law states that mental or physical illness and substance abuse may be considered in terms of assessing parental unfitness, but only if they render a parent consistently unable to care for the child’s needs. Substance abuse does not automatically eliminate the possibility of joint custody or primary custody if a parent can show their illness and substance abuse is well managed.
Substance abuse as a factor in custody is highly subjective in the eyes of the court and is one of several factors that are used to determine a parent’s fitness.
Bifurcation of Marital Status
Bifurcation is permitted in Nevada. This means both parties in a divorce can legally declared as a single person while issues such as a division of assets, child custody, visitation, child support, alimony and so forth are worked out at a later date.
Some courts in the state are reluctant to grant a bifurcated divorce since this means that there would be two proceedings instead of one and it may cause the divorce to drag on longer than it otherwise normally would.
Disclosing Assets and Debts
By law, both spouses are required to disclose all assets in a divorce.
This is done so that a fair division of assets can take place. Disclosures must include all bank account information, titles and deeds, retirement account statements, tax returns, pay stubs or income information and debt information.
Each spouse must submit this information or face serious legal consequences. If a spouse lies about their assets, they could be held liable for criminal and civil penalties.
When a spouse refuses to exchange this information, the court may order them to do so, and also make them pay any associated attorney’s fees.
Spouse’s Default in Nevada
When a spouse refuses to cooperate or respond to a divorce complaint, it may be possible for the other spouse to file a request for a default judgment. The court will then consider granting the divorce without input from the uncooperative or nonresponsive spouse and base terms of the divorce decree only on information provided by one spouse.
Other Divorce Issues
If you are experiencing domestic violence in your marriage, you must take immediate steps to protect yourself and your loved ones before it is too late.
Domestic violence includes any kind of physical abuse, emotional abuse, stalking, or any other kind of harassment including those made through phone calls, mail, or social media inflicted on one spouse by the other.
If the threat is real and immediate, call 911. In all other cases, you must leave your home as soon as possible to protect you and your loved ones.
Law enforcement takes domestic violence seriously. You can seek a temporary restraining order to be put in place until you can make more permanent plans to move forward with divorce.
Although it does not need to be stated as a grounds for divorce, domestic violence will have an impact on child custody and visitation issues. A judge may severely limit or completely disallow contact between an abusive parent and children on a permanent basis. In other cases, supervised visitation rights may be put into place
Typically, health insurance for a spouse who receives coverage on the other spouse’s policy ends when a divorce is finalized in Nevada. It is best to confirm this with an individual employer as some may have differing polices, but that is generally not the case.
You can also apply for COBRA benefits. This is a law that protects people from losing health coverage during major life transitions. It allows you to continue with your spouse’s current coverage for up to three years as long as you pay the premiums. Be aware that this can be an expensive way to provide coverage since the employer no longer subsidizes premium payments.
Many people either need to find jobs that provide health insurance or buy coverage on an exchange as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Read: How to Choose the Best Health Insurance Plan After a Divorce
Infidelity and Adultery
It is not necessary to prove infidelity or adultery when dissolving a marriage in Nevada because it is a no-fault state.
However, if it can be shown that considerable marital resources were spent as part of the affair by the unfaithful spouse, then it could have an impact on how a couple’s community property is divided. This is called marital waste and you could be compelled to compensate a spouse for half of the assets that were used in the affair.
In a few cases, a spouse may use adultery as leverage in making child custody decisions because it could be argued that adultery could have an adverse impact on any children in the marriage.
Adultery can also have an impact on the division of assets when prenuptial agreements are in place that have penalties for cheating called infidelity clauses.
Military Divorces in Nevada
In you or your spouse are in the military and want to get a divorce, some certain rules will apply.
To file in the state, you or your spouse must reside in or be stationed in Nevada
As part of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a member of the military may be allowed to postpone a divorce while they are overseas or otherwise not able to adequately respond to the petition due to military service commitments. It prevents active duty military members from being held in default for failing to respond to a divorce action.
Child support and alimony payments may not exceed 60% of a servicemember’s pay and allowances. Otherwise, guidelines and forms used in civilian divorces are also used in military divorces.
Civilian community property and division of asset laws are followed. However, the federal government has enacted the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) that governs how military retirement benefits are calculated and divided upon divorce.
The federal laws will not divide and distribute any of the military members retirement to the spouse unless they have been married 10 years or longer while the member has been active duty military.
If one of the parties is deployed, The Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA) is implemented.
Temporary plans are executed during military absences. As such, these absences require military parents to prepare a temporary plan for custody and visitation arrangements while they are gone. After the absence is over, the temporary plan ends and the parties return to the parenting plan that was in place before the military absence.