How to Not to Get Screwed in a Divorce
Want to learn how to not get screwed in a divorce? There’s a lot of stuff out there about getting a Nevada divorce.
I mean, let’s face it . . .Bad advice on how to not get screwed in a divorce 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. We’ve got you covered.
Keep reading to get our exclusive insider tips, tricks and secrets to make your Nevada divorce smooth, fast and cheap.
So let’s get to it!
#1: I Don’t Live In Nevada. Can I Get Divorced 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 you file for divorce, one of you must have lived in Nevada at least six weeks before you file your case.
This is the residency requirement.
Don’t meet the residency requirement? You can’t get divorced in Nevada.
It’s that simple!
#2: My Children Live Somewhere Else. Can I Still Get A Nevada Divorce?
Ideally your children should be Nevada residents. . . 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 on how to not get screwed in a divorce in this area.
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 you file for divorce.
Do your children live in another state but you live in Nevada? You can get divorced in Nevada. But the Nevada court will not decide child support and custody. Instead, the court where your children live will decide those issues.
This is what is known as a status only divorce. Basically, you’re divorced in Nevada 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?
Are you wondering how to not get screwed in a divorce?
Is your divorce contested or uncontested?
A contested divorce means that you and your spouse cannot agree on things 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.
After 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.
Teaching 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 is the goal of COPE.
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. Usually, 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
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 . . .
First: File a notice to change judges within 3 to 10 days of being notified of a hearing.
Second: You can’t file a peremptory challenge if the judge has already made a decision in your case.
Third: The cost to change judges is $450.
Fourth: 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.
Fifth: 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.
The 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?
Give a copy of a mortgage statement or lease
Submit 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
Present 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.
Wait longer than a few weeks or even a few months to respond, and there’s a good chance you will 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
Deposits and Receivables
Retirement and Other Assets
Insurance and Insurance Policies
Proof of Income
There might be additional documents that your judge will require you to disclose.
#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.
Needless to say, 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 his 18 year old.
The issue? Our client did not want to pay alimony to her spouse of 35 years but wanted to pay for their son’s college.
But this made the judge was angry. The judge said that it made no sense that our client supported the child over her husband. 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, spouses come first. There is no basis in the law for the Court to order you to keep helping your adult children while not supporting your spouse.
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 gives you a free lawyer is if you are 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 civil and not criminal in nature, there are no court appointed attorneys.
What does this mean for you?
Want an attorney to represent you in your divorce? You need to hire a lawyer and pay for it.
Now don’t get us wrong, there are ways to get a free lawyer. But that exceeds the scope of this article.
Interested in learning about 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 tell the judge you want a new name and write the new name in your divorce decree. That’s it.
Once the judge signs the Decree of Divorce, file it and 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
On your bills and utilities
With your mortgage company and on any property deeds that you may have
Your passport and any other official document
If you forgot to change your name in your divorce decree you have two options:
First Option: Do a formal name change which requires filing additional documentation with the Court and paying a new filing fee
Second Option: Submit an amended decree identifying the name change. CAUTION: 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. As long as everything is in order, your 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, you will need to see a judge at least once before prior to the divorce being granted.
If your divorce is really ugly, plan to attend several court appearances in order to finalize your divorce.
Other options besides seeing a judge include private mediation or private arbitration. By choosing 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: Will My Divorce Take A Long Time?
This largely depends on you and your ex.
An uncontested divorce, takes anywhere from 2 weeks to about 45 days for 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. For example, 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? Then you can expect to spend a lot more than a couple who can divorce with an uncontested divorce.
Do you own a business? If so, you might have to spend money on a business valuation expert and/or a forensic accountant.
Are young children involved? Have you and your spouse agreed to custody, visitation and child support? If not, you could spend money on family mediation, court ordered custody expert and child psychologists.
Generally, you can complete a simple divorce for as little as a few hundred dollars. A nasty, crazy contested divorce on the other hand? Prepare to spend at least several thousand dollars to get the job done.
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. Having a competent and knowledgeable divorce lawyer on your side can save you thousands dollars in the long run.