Getting divorced sucks!
Add to any divorce the idea that one spouse might have to pay alimony or another spouse might need to rely on alimony and it can make the idea of getting divorced completely overwhelming
But here's the deal . . .
If you understand how alimony works, and what factors your family court judge will use to award alimony, a divorce with alimony doesn't have to be scary or overwhelming.
In this guide we take the guesswork out of Nevada alimony and offer you a some control over your divorce.
By the time you are done with this post, you should understand:
what the different types of alimony are
how to determine whether your divorce is an alimony divorce and
estimate how much alimony will be paid and for how long
So let’s start with the basics:
What is alimony?
Webster’s Dictionary defines alimony as an allowance paid to a person by that person's spouse or former spouse for maintenance, granted by a court upon a legal separation or a divorce or while action is pending.
What does this mean in English? Alimony is the payment of money from one spouse to another in a set amount for a set period of time.
What are the different types of alimony in Nevada?
In Nevada, our statutes consider four (4) different types of alimony (spousal support).
Temporary Alimony: You should think of temporary alimony as exactly that - alimony that is going to be paid for a shorter period of time. Generally, this can be while a divorce case is pending (3 months to a year) or for an even shorter period of time, like when one spouse just needs a couple of months to get on their feet.
The other three types of alimony in Nevada are paid after the divorce is finalized. These include:
Permanent Alimony: Like temporary alimony, permanent alimony is exactly how it sounds - PERMANENT. This means that alimony has no end date and is generally awarded for as long as one spouse works or until a spouse dies or remarries.
Rehabilitative Alimony: This type of alimony is usually awarded so a spouse can receive job training or education after divorce. Think of it this way: if a lawyer marries a paralegal, the lawyer has more education and larger earning potential than the paralegal spouse. If they get divorced, the lawyer may need to pay for the paralegal spouse to attend law school or receive additional education so that their earnings could be closer.
Alimony: We chose not to define the final type of alimony because Nevada law stinks and there is no guidance for regular old alimony.
This last type of alimony can be paid in a lump sum or in periodic payments (weekly, monthly, yearly, etc.).
This is your general definition of alimony – support paid by one spouse to another after divorce for a set period of time.
Now that we have the basic definitions out of the way, let’s get to your real questions. . .
When does alimony end in Nevada?
In Nevada, alimony ends by law under the following conditions:
Rehabilitative alimony will end when the receiving spouse achieves the desired goal such as obtaining a college degree or receiving their specialized training.
Regular old alimony usually has an end date.
You should expect that if you are ordered to pay alimony, or if you are receiving alimony, that your divorce decree will specify the number of alimony payments to be made.
Once the final payment is made, alimony ends.
Who decides whether or not my divorce qualifies for spousal support?
In Nevada, you and your divorcing spouse can agree that your case is a case where spousal support should be paid.
If you agree, you will need to decide which type of alimony is being paid (rehabilitative, temporary, permanent or regular alimony), how much will be paid, how often the payments will be made and for what period of time.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on the various aspects of spousal support, or whether or not your case is an alimony case, then the judge will decide whether or not to award alimony.
Isn’t there a formula in Nevada for calculating alimony?
There used to be a formula, but our Courts and the Nevada legislature got rid of it. So now, there is NO formula in Nevada for calculating alimony.
Don’t I have to be married for ten years in order for my spouse to get alimony in my Nevada Divorce?
The answer to this questions is no.
As we said, there is no formula in Nevada for calculating alimony.
Likewise, there is no set time that you have to be married in order to pay or receive alimony.
Each case is different and alimony is decided by each judge on a case-by-case basis.
What factors will the judge consider in deciding whether my case is an alimony case?
So this is the part that is difficult.
In Nevada, our laws give the judges 11 different factors to consider in making an alimony award. Those 11 factors include the following:
The financial condition of each spouse.
The nature and value of the respective property of each spouse.
The contribution of each spouse to any property held by the spouses
The duration of marriage.
The income, earning capacity, age and health of each spouse.
The standard of living during the marriage.
The career before the marriage of the spouse who would receive the alimony.
The existence of specialized education or training or the level of marketable skills attained by each spouse during the marriage.
The contribution of either spouse as homemaker.
The award of property granted by the court in the divorce, other than child support and alimony, to the spouse who would receive the alimony.
The physical and mental condition of each party as it relates to the financial condition, health and ability to work of that spouse.
Yeah, we know – 11 different factors! Remember, each case is different and whether or not alimony will be awarded will depend on how your judge looks at the facts of your specific case.
If your case is an alimony case, you should be prepared to present evidence to your judge on each one of the factors above in order to determine what type of alimony will be paid, the length of alimony to be paid, the amount of alimony to be paid and the duration of alimony.
Ok…so now that we know the different types of alimony in Nevada, the circumstances under which alimony will terminate, and the factors the Court will consider for alimony, let’s get to the most frequently asked questions about Nevada alimony:
What do I do if I want spousal support in Nevada?
If you are asking for alimony/spousal support as part of your divorce, you MUST include a claim for alimony in your divorce complaint, if you are the plaintiff, or in your answer and counterclaim if you are the defendant.
If you don’t make your alimony claim in your initial pleadings, chances are a judge wont let you make a claim for alimony at the end of your divorce case.
In our opinion, it is better to be safe than sorry.
If you want spousal support, or if you aren’t sure if you want alimony, make the claim for support in your initial pleadings (complaint or answer and counterclaim).
What if I didn’t want alimony when I first got divorced but decide I need it now?
I am always surprised by this question because about once a month we get someone calling us saying they have been divorced for a number of years and now they want alimony.
Bottom line is that if you don’t ask for alimony BEFORE you divorce, there is virtually no chance you will be awarded alimony years after your divorce is finalized.
What if my spouse wants alimony but I don’t want to pay alimony?
This one is kinda tricky…nobody really wants to pay alimony to their ex.
Keep in mind that not wanting to pay alimony versus not being able to pay alimony are two different things.
Just because you don’t want to pay alimony doesn’t mean that a judge wont make you legally obligated to pay.
If you cant afford to pay alimony that is another issue.
In making an initial award of alimony, you, or your lawyer if you have one, should be prepared to present evidence to the judge clearly showing that you do not have enough money left to pay alimony.
If alimony has already been awarded and you can no longer afford to pay, you need to file a motion with the Court asking to modify your alimony payments. You should be prepared to tell the judge what has changed since you were ordered to pay.
In Nevada, our judges are looking for a 20% change in income in order to modify alimony payments. Other factors such as increased expenses, in certain circumstances, may also be a basis to modify alimony.
Can men ask for alimony in a Nevada divorce?
The same factors will apply in deciding alimony for a man as they do for a woman.
What do I do if my former spouse falls behind in alimony payments or just decides not to pay?
If your ex stops paying or falls behind in payments, you should first, send a demand letter for payment. You will want to document, in writing, that you tried to resolve the case with your ex before you seek the involvement of the Court.
If your ex still refuses to pay, you will need to file a motion with the Court to enforce the alimony payments, have any arrears reduced to judgment and possibly to hold your ex in contempt.
In most cases, the judge is going to give your ex an opportunity to pay back the missing alimony.
This could include making monthly payments or giving your ex a period of time to make a lump sum payment on the alimony arrears.
If your ex still doesn’t pay, your ex could end up in jail, being sanctioned and/or having wages garnished and possessions taken in order to pay the alimony.
What if we weren’t married, can I still get Nevada alimony?
No. Not in Nevada.
Other jurisdictions recognize palimony or common law marriages as a basis to award alimony. Nevada is not one of them.
You must be married to collect alimony.
What if my spouse had an affair? Will the judge award me alimony to punish my soon to be ex?
Nevada is a no fault jurisdiction. This means that the Court will not consider adultery as part of the analysis in calculating alimony.
For more information about “fault” in Nevada divorce consider this article: Fault In Nevada Divorce
Is alimony taxable?
Yes. The receiving party will have to declare the alimony received on their tax return as income.
If you get divorced BEFORE the end of 2018, any alimony payments made are deductible to the paying spouse.
The new tax laws have made it such that if you divorce after 2018 and you have to pay alimony, the alimony payments will no longer be tax deductible.
Great article, but you didn’t really answer the question…how much alimony will I get in my Nevada Divorce/how much alimony will I have to pay?
Like we said in the beginning, each case will be determined on a case by case basis by your judge if you and your spouse cannot agree on alimony.
While we would love to tell you that if you have a 3 year marriage, no alimony will be paid, this is simply untrue.
We have seen temporary alimony awards made in cases where the parties were only married a few months and we have seen no alimony awarded in cases where the parties were married over 30 years.
If you want to know how much you can expect to pay or how much you can expect to get, we recommend that you complete a financial disclosure form.
Once the form is complete, you need to go through the form as follows:
(a)Start with your gross monthly income and look at your mandatory deductions and subtract it from your gross monthly income. This will include social security, medicare and taxes. If you are paying health insurance, you should also subtract that amount. You will not get “credit” for deductions for 401(k) or pension, charitable giving, etc. Once you have done this calculation you should have a good idea of what your net income is.
(b)Now look at your monthly expenses. Basic necessities such as rent, utilities, gas for your car, and food should be subtracted from your net income. Keep in mind that the basic necessities should be reasonable expenses. If you are making $3,500 in net income and paying $5,000 for rent, a judge will not consider this reasonable.
(c)Now factor in any debt obligations within reason by subtracting those from any money that remains.
(d)Now, perform the same calculations for your soon to be ex.
(e)Once you have a good idea of what is left over for each party at the end of the month, you will have a good idea of any discretionary income that remains to pay spousal support. If you and your ex have similar living expenses and the same left over at the end of each month, you should expect little to no support to be paid. If there is a big gap, be prepared to have alimony awarded.
Please keep in mind that the above calculation is a rough estimate only and as we have stated now a million times, alimony in Nevada is awarded on a case by case basis.
There is no set formula. In our experience though, this is generally, the same calculation each judge performs in deciding whether or not to award alimony.
We hope you have found this article helpful and if so, please leave a comment below or like this article on social media.
Still have questions about alimony in Nevada?
If you or someone you know is getting a Nevada divorce and needs help with alimony, give our office a call at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line form. We have over twenty years of combined experience in family law including alimony cases. We can help.