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Step-By-Step Answers To Your Top Nevada Divorce Questions [Exclusive Insider Secrets From Top Divorce Lawyers]

There's a lot of stuff out there about getting a divorce in Nevada.  

Let's face it . . .

Bad advice is everywhere!

From articles on-line to social media posts to your co-workers telling you about their divorce, it can be hard to separate solid advice from a case gone bad. 

Well don't worry.  In this article, we are offering you our exclusive insider tips, tricks and secrets to make your Nevada divorce smooth and fast

So let's get to it! 


#1: Can I Get Divorced In Nevada If I Don't Live There?
We don't know how else to say it. 

If you want a Nevada divorce either you, or your spouse, must live in Nevada.

Not only do you have to live in Nevada at the time your divorce is filed, one of you must have lived in Nevada at least six weeks before your divorce case is filed. 

In Nevada, this is known as the residency requirement

If you don't meet the residency requirement, you can't get divorced in Nevada. 
It's that simple!

 
#2: Can I Get Divorced In Nevada If I Live There But My Children Live Somewhere Else?


Ideally your children should be Nevada residents in order to get divorced in Nevada. . . but they don't have to be.

Notice that we said your children should be Nevada residents? Not sure what this means?

Let's break it down. 

If you are planning a divorce and you have minor children with your spouse, your children must be residents of Nevada for the Court to have jurisdiction over your children for your divorce. 

In non-lawyer speak this means your children must live in Nevada for at least the last 6 months before your divorce case is filed. 

If you live in Nevada, but your children live in another state, you can still get divorced in Nevada, but your Nevada family court judge will not be able to decide anything about custody or child support. 

This is what is known as a status only divorce. Basically it means the judge can say you and your spouse are divorced but you may have to file a separate lawsuit where your children live to resolve custody, visitation and child support. 
 

#3: What Is The Difference Between A Contested Divorced And An Uncontested Divorce In Nevada?

If you plan to file for divorce in Nevada, you will need to decide whether or not your divorce is a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce. 

A contested divorce means that you and your spouse cannot agree on certain aspects of your divorce like alimony, dividing assets and debts or child custody. If this is the case, you could be in for a long drawn out Court battle that might cost you thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars. 

An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse agree 100% on every aspect of your divorce. It could also mean that your spouse does not plan to participate in the divorce and will not contest what you put in your divorce complaint. 

For a quick and smooth, we suggest you determine the type of divorce from the beginning of your case (contested or uncontested). 
 

# 4: Can I Just Mail The Divorce Papers To My Spouse?
 

If you have decided that your divorce is a contested divorce, you must file your Complaint for Divorce and have a Summons issued by the Clerk of the Court. 

The Summons is the document that lets your spouse know they are being sued for a divorce. 

Once you have the filed Divorce Complaint and issued Summons, you will need to have your spouse personally served with the paperwork. 

Unfortunately, you cannot mail the divorce paperwork to your spouse. You also cant stick it in a drawer and hope your spouse never finds out. 

For the divorce to proceed, your spouse must be given the paperwork by someone (not you) over the age of 18. If you can't find your spouse or your spouse is playing games and refusing to be served, you can serve your spouse by publishing the paperwork in a local newspaper. 

Once the paperwork is properly served, the person serving your spouse must complete an affidavit explaining the date and manner in which your spouse was served. This is known as an Affidavit of Service and it must be filed into your divorce case. It is required for your divorce to proceed. 

If you don't provide proof to the Court that your spouse was served with the paperwork (either in person or by publication), the Court will not finalize your divorce. 
 

#5: Do I Have To Take A Parenting Class To Get A Divorce In Las Vegas?


If you plan to get divorced in Clark County, Nevada and you have minor children living in Nevada, you will be required to take the COPE Class. 

COPE is required before the Court will grant you a divorce. 

The purpose of the class is to help divorcing parents understand how their divorce and the conflict the divorce might create will affect their children. 

The COPE class' goal is to teach divorcing parents how to spot stress in their children, how to manage conflict, and how to have a health co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse. 

You can take the class on-line or in-person. Typically the on-line course last for approximately four hours. There are quizzes along the way to ensure that you are actually paying attention to the class. 

The cost of the classes vary by provider. Generally, the courses run between $40 and $60. 

Once you complete the COPE class, you will receive a certificate of completion which you should file with the Family Court in your divorce case in order to prove you completed the class. 

While our office doesn't endorse any particular class, below is a list of the Court approved COPE classes:

Family Solutions offers in person and online classes
BOSS Court Education offers online classes
The Center for Divorce Education offers online classes
Two Families Now offers online classes


#6: Can I Change Judges If I Don't Like My Divorce Judge?

This topic comes up a lot in our practice. 

Unfortunately, it usually happens after our client has been to court and after the judge has made the decision they client doesn't like. By this point it's too late to change judges. 

So to answer the question "can I change my judge?," the answer is you can but you have to do it at the very beginning of your case and you can only do it one time in most cases. 

Changing judges is known as a peremptory challenge. What this means is that you get one chance to change your judge. That's it! And there are rules . . . 

Rule #1: You have to file a notice to change judges within 3 to 10 days of being notified there is a hearing in your case. 

Rule #2: You can't file a peremptory challenge if the judge has already made a decision in your case. 

Rule #3: The cost to change judges is $450.

Rule #4: You don't have to give a reason you want to change judges if you file a peremptory challenge. You just have to file the notice within the required time frames. 

Rule #5: Your case will be randomly reassigned to another judge. You don't get to pick your new judge. 

In addition to the peremptory challenge, you can also change judges for cause. This topic exceeds the purpose of this article. What we will say is, if you can prove there is bias, a conflict or inappropriate conduct by your judge, you can file a motion to ask to have your judge removed from your case and a new judge be assigned. 

If you really want to change judges, we strongly suggest you talk to your divorce lawyer about the risks and benefits of doing so. 


#7: How Do I Prove That I Am A Nevada Resident So I Can Get Divorced?


Like we said before, you must be a Nevada Resident in order to get divorced in Nevada.

In order to "prove your residency," you will need someone that knows you, that also lives in Nevada, to complete an Affidavit of Resident Witness

The affidavit must include the full name of the witness along with their address. 

Your witness must also swear, under oath, that you have lived in the State of Nevada for at least 6 weeks before you filed your complaint for divorce. 

Your witness will also need to explain how they know you. For example, are they a co-worker, or a friend, or a family member?

They will also need to swear how many times a week they see you in Nevada. Ideally, your Resident Witness should see you at least three times per week. 

If the judge does not believe your Resident Witness' affidavit or if the judge has concerns about your being a legitimate resident of Nevada, the judge may ask for additional proof of your residency. 

How you can you prove you actually live in Nevada?

✔Provide a copy of a mortgage statement or lease
✔Provide a copy of a Nevada Driver's License
✔Provide a copy of utility bills in Nevada in your name
✔Show proof of employment in Nevada like a paycheck stub or work assignments
✔Provide proof of a Nevada bank account and use bank statements to show you are using your account in Nevada

Keep in mind that if you cannot prove you actually reside in Nevada, you may not be able to get a Nevada divorce. 

#8: What Happens If I Don't Respond To The Divorce Complaint?


It's pretty simple. If you don't respond to the divorce complaint, the other side wins. 
 
Sounds pretty harsh right?
 
Well, if you don't file the appropriate response with the Court, your judge will assume you aren't interested in participating in your divorce case. As a result, it is likely that the judge will give your ex everything they have asked for in their complaint for divorce.

It is important to respond to a Complaint for Divorce within 20 days after you are served with the papers. Again, failing to respond could result in the other side obtaining a default against you and your ex getting everything they want. 

If you realized too late that you need to respond, and your ex has already received a default, you can ask the Court to set aside the default. This requires filing a motion to set aside the default judgment. However, you need to do this as soon as possible. 

If you wait longer than a few weeks or even a few months to respond, or you wait to set aside a default judgment, chances are you are going to be stuck with whatever your ex asked for in the original complaint for divorce. 

 
#9: What If I Didn't Ask For Alimony At The Beginning Of My Case? Can I Still Get Alimony?


Timing here is everything!

We can't tell you how many calls we get from people who have been divorced for years where one spouse is saying they never asked for alimony, but now, years later they want it. 

The bottom line?

As soon as you think you could possibly want or need alimony, you need to ask for it. 

This means that at the time you file your case, if you think you might need alimony, you should ask for it in the Complaint or Counterclaim to the divorce. 

Or... if before your divorce trial, if you think you might want alimony, you need to ask for it.

Once your case has been decided or a final Decree of Divorce has been entered, if you haven't already asked for alimony, chances are you won't get it. 


#10: Do I Have To Share My Finances With My Ex?

In most cases the answer is yes! You will have to give your spouse some financial information. 

For example, if you have children, even if you plan to share custody, you will still have to exchange your income information so your judge can calculate child support. Even if you two agree on child support, you will still have to provide your income information to the judge and explain why you have made the agreements you have. 

Likewise, if you and your ex cannot agree on how to divide your bank accounts, chances are you are going to have to disclose each bank account and how much is in it. 

And . . . if your ex thinks you have wasted money or hidden assets, you may have to disclose more than just account numbers and balances. 

We get it!

Disclosing all of your income, assets and debts can seem like an invasion of your privacy and may feel unfair, but providing complete information on financial disclosure forms will probably save you money and more litigation in the long run. 


#11: What Documents Do I Have To Give My Spouse In A Contested Divorce?


In Nevada, if you and your spouse end up in a contested divorce, chances are there will be a number of documents you will need to gather and give to your lawyer so they can be organized and provided to your ex. 

These documents include but are not limited to the following:

✔ Bank and Investment Statements

✔ Credit Card and Debt Statements
 
✔ Real Property Documents 

✔ Property Debt Documents

✔ Loan Applications

✔ Promissory Notes
 
✔ Deposits and Receivables 

✔ Retirement and Other Assets
 
✔ Insurance and Insurance Policies

✔ Tax Returns
 
✔ Proof of Income
 
There might be additional documents that your judge will require you to disclose. 


#12: My Spouse Had An Affair! Will They Be Punished By The Court?


The short answer is no they will not be punished.

Nevada is a no-fault divorce State. What does this mean you might ask?

It doesn't matter if your spouse had an affair with one person or one-hundred people. The Court cannot consider your ex's bad deeds in granting the divorce. 

Let's put it another way. You or your ex can get a reason for any reason or really no reason. Generally, one of you just has to tell your divorce judge that you are incompatible and cant continue to be married, and you will get a divorce. 

More often than not, the Court will not even consider your spouse's bad acts in deciding whether or not to grant a divorce. 

However, if you want to read more about ways that an affair might be considered by your divorce judge, check out our article about Fault in Nevada Divorce


#13: Do I Still Have To Pay Alimony Even If I Am Supporting Our Adult Children?

Oh boy! We just had this very issue in a recent divorce case and it did not go over well. 

During the divorce proceedings, our client's child turned 18 and went off to college. Our client was paying a pretty decent amount each month to support the 18 year old and his college education but out client did not want to pay alimony to her spouse of 35 years. Needless to say, the judge not impressed that our client was willing to pay thousands of dollars for her son to attend college but not willing to contribute to her spouse of many years. At the end of the day, our client ending up having to pay for her ex and her son. 

The lesson here?

While supporting your adult children is commendable and the morally responsible thing to do, there is no basis in the law for the Court to order you to keep helping your adult children while not supporting your spouse. 

Our recommendations?

Have a long discussion with your adult children about finances and what you can contribute and cant contribute when the divorce is granted. 

Likewise, we recommend talking with your soon to be ex and asking whether they would be agreeable to having you pay to support your adult children instead of paying them spousal support. If you two agree, then the judge will likely abide by your agreements. 


#14: Who Pays For The Lawyers In A Nevada Divorce?


You've probably heard a Miranda warning a hundred times . . . you know "if you can't afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to you." 

Well the only time the State is required to appoint you an attorney is in a case where you could be facing jail time. Otherwise, in almost every other case, there is no such thing as a Court appointed lawyer. 

This is especially true in family court. Since family court is considered civil and not criminal in nature, there are no court appointed attorneys. 

What does this mean for you?

If you want an attorney to represent you in your divorce, you will need to hire a lawyer. 

Now don't get us wrong, there are ways to get a free lawyer, also known as a pro bono attorney. But that exceeds the scope of this article. If you are interested in learning about hiring a free attorney, contact the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada

Just know that just because you say you cant afford a lawyer, in divorce court in Nevada, you will not automatically get a lawyer. 

Likewise, if you hire an attorney to represent you, you might be able to get your ex to pay your lawyer fees. However, whether or not the judge will order your ex to pay for your lawyer is 100% up to the judge. 

Key takeaway: If you want a divorce lawyer, in Nevada, you will have to find the lawyer, hire the lawyer and pay the lawyer unless you can qualify for a pro bono lawyer or unless the judge orders your ex to pay your lawyer. 


#15: How Do I Go Back To My Maiden Name Once I'm Divorced?
This one is pretty simple. 

You can ask to change back to your maiden name or a former last name in your Decree of Divorce. Simply put language in the Decree that you want to change your name and that you will now be known by your new name.

Once the judge has signed the Decree of Divorce and it is filed with the Court, you will want to get a certified copy. The certified copy will have the raised Seal of the Court. You will likely need the certified copy of your Divorce Decree to change your name with:

✔ The Department of Motor Vehicles for your driver's license and car registration

✔ Social Security

✔ On your bills and utilities

✔  With your mortgage company and on any property deeds that you may have

✔ On your passport and any other official document

If you forgot to change your name in your divorce decree you have two options:

Option 1: You can do a formal name change which requires filing additional documentation with the Court and paying a new filing fee

Option 2: You can try to submit an amended decree identifying the name change. If you select this option, it will be 100% the judge's decision whether or not to give you the name change in the Decree of Divorce


#16: Do I Have To Go To Court To Get Divorced?

If you and your spouse agree on everything from the outset of your case YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO GO TO COURT TO GET DIVORCED. 

Instead, you can just submit your paperwork for the judge to review and if everything is in order, you will be divorced without ever having to see the inside of a courtroom. 

On the other hand, if you and your spouse can't agree, even on just 1 detail of your divorce, chances are you will need to make at least one court appearance before you can get divorced in Nevada. 

If you have a really contested and ugly divorce, you may need to make several court appearances over many months, or even years, in order to finalize your divorce. 

Other options besides seeing a judge to get divorced include private mediation or private arbitration. If you choose this option, you can use a neutral third party like a mediator or arbitrator to help settle disputes and even draft your paperwork. This way, you can finalize your divorce, still present arguments but avoid going to court. 


#17: How Long Will My Divorce Take?


This largely depends on you and your ex. 

Generally, if you have an uncontested divorce, it takes anywhere from 2 weeks to about 45 days from the time the case is filed to get a final Decree of Divorce. 

If you have a super contested divorce, in some cases, it can take several years to finalize the divorce. 

In our experience, the average length of a somewhat contested divorce takes anywhere from 6 to 8 months to finalize. 

There are some things that you and your ex can do to make your divorce go faster, like participate in private mediation or agree to have a private arbitrator hear your case. 


#18: How Much Will My Divorce Cost?


Divorce costs are largely dependent on the spouses getting divorce. In other words, how much your divorce costs is up to you and your spouse. 

Are you fighting each other every step of the way? If so, you can expect to spend a lot more than a couple who can divorce with an uncontested divorce.

Do you own a business? Will your business need to be valued for purposes of dividing it? If so, you might have to spend money on a business valuation expert and/or a forensic accountant. 

Do you have children? Have you and your spouse agreed to custody, visitation and child support? If not, you could spend money on family mediation, court ordered custody evaluators and child psychologists. 

Generally speaking, some divorces can be completed for as little as a few hundred dollars while we have heard stories about complicated, nasty divorces costing as much as several hundred thousand dollars. 

In our experience, the average contested divorce will cost anywhere from a few thousand to several thousand dollars. Most uncontested divorces cost under a few thousand dollars. 

Again, how much your divorce will cost you will depend on many factors. What we can say for sure is having a competent and knowledgeable divorce lawyer on your side can save you thousands dollars, if not tens of thousands of dollars, in the long run. 

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