How to Plan for Divorce in Las Vegas
Divorce is a stressful and disheartening life event. But for the divorce process to go right, you need to plan ahead.
Doing proper research and making a divorce checklist will make it easier for you once you start negotiations with your spouse. It’s even more critical as divorce comes with high stakes, from child custody to financial assets.
Sitting down to plan ahead will help you cover all the angles.
If you live in Las Vegas, it’s essential to be familiar with Nevada divorce laws and corresponding requirements. Fortunately, divorce laws here are clear-cut. They have much more relaxed standards compared to other states. For example, Nevada is a no-fault state. Being in a no-fault state means that either spouse can request a divorce without being required to provide a suitable reason. Another example is that it has lower-than-normal residence requirements. As long as one spouse lived in Nevada for six weeks, they are eligible to file for divorce.
If you’re looking to learn how to prepare for divorce in Las Vegas thoroughly, here’s a checklist that can help walk you through what you need during the process.
1. Start with putting your team together
It would help if you had the support of different people to help you get through this painful, complicated process. This includes family members and friends that can help be your emotional support system. You also need to get professional help to support and guide you through the divorce proceedings.
Getting proper emotional support
To some people, talking to a trusted family member or friend can be sufficient. However, consulting a professional counselor or therapist may be needed on certain occasions, especially if you’re dealing with a significant traumatic event, such as domestic violence or substance abuse, or childhood trauma brought on by the divorce.
Hiring a divorce lawyer
A seasoned divorce attorney will assess your particular situation and counsel you throughout the divorce process to ensure that the outcome of your divorce is as favorable to you and your family as possible.
Make sure to hire a good divorce lawyer who has the experience, objectivity, and specialized knowledge to represent you. While some divorces can get handled without legal assistance, others require the aid of a qualified divorce attorney or someone familiar with the divorce process. You may need a divorce lawyer specializing in child custody, child support, and visitation issues if you have children. An attorney will help answer your questions about the proceedings. These questions can include your eligibility for divorce, where to file, divorce fees and costs, and establishing a parenting plan.
As mentioned, divorce laws vary by state. If you’re divorcing in Las Vegas, it’s also crucial that your attorney has experience handling divorces in Nevada.
Getting proper financial advice
Just as a lawyer will assist you with the legal issues, a professional financial advisor will help you deal with the critical financial decisions relating to your divorce. Specialized divorce financial analysts can assist you in understanding your current situation and how you will get financially impacted post-divorce. They will also help you to evaluate possible settlement proposals.
You’ll also need to go over all of your insurance policies. Find a reputable local broker who can provide you with the best rates and coverage.
2. Gather all required information
Before you meet with an attorney or a divorce professional, make sure you’ve already done your homework. To save time and money, we recommend that you compile as much as the needed information below.
Certain personal information about you and your spouse is required in the legal process. For example, proof of residency is needed to follow Nevada law. The court also needs to know your employment and salary info to assess child support and alimony issues. Thus, make sure to compile the following information.
- The date of birth of both spouses
- Proof of residency in Nevada for at least six weeks
- Date and location from when you and your spouse got married
- Names of the people who signed the marriage license
- Details of the prenuptial agreement
- Details about each spouse’s previous marriages, children, and so on, if any
- Each spouse’s current occupation and length of employment, as well as the name, address, and contact information of their employer
- Each spouse’s Social Security number
- Salary or wage of each spouse, as well as the extent of employee benefits
- Each spouse’s education, degrees, and training
- Information on each spouse’s retirement plans
- Joint assets of both spouses
- Each spouse’s liabilities and debts
- Details on each spouse’s insurance
- Each spouse’s separate or personal assets, such as trust funds and inheritances
- Financial and business records of both parties
If you have children, the court will also require information to sort out child custody and child support issues. You may need the following information hand.
- Their full names and dates of birth
- Birth certificates and social security card
- Medical history, special care instructions, or medications
- Contact details of your child’s family doctors or medical specialists, school, and daycare.
- Details on the current childcare arrangements
- A list of expenses, including tuition, medical bills, clothes, and so on
3. Identify your personal property
The next step is to inventory the things you own Individually or jointly with the other party. Property is more than just real estate in a divorce. It includes anything of value that the parties own. Remember that it doesn’t matter who’s name is in it. These may include:
- Any company or business you jointly or separately own
- All bank accounts in both of your names or in each of your names separately
- Art, jewelry, and other priceless collectibles (ex. antiques)
- Cars and recreational vehicles (ex. boats, RVs, etc.)
- Real estate property
- Health and life insurance
- 401k accounts
- Anything of value that was bought during the marriage
It’s also important to note that Nevada is a community property state. Money, real estate, and goods acquired during a marriage are considered community property. Thus, when dividing community property in Nevada court, the judge usually divides these assets 50/50. However, this is if there is no prenuptial agreement.
One spouse may propose a property settlement agreement to the other during the dissolution process. If the other spouse agrees, the property will usually get divided according to the contract.
However, if a spouse rejects a reasonable offer made in good faith by their spouse, there may be consequences. The court has full authority to order the spouse who turned down the offer to pay the other spouse’s attorney fees and court costs.
4. Preparing and submitting your divorce papers
The state of Nevada has a “no-fault” divorce policy. Thus, only one of three reasons must get stated when filing to dissolve a marriage:
- Both parties are incompatible
- Both spouses have been living separately for a minimum of one year, or
- Before the other spouse files for divorce, one spouse must have been legally insane for two years.
A person who wishes to dissolve their marriage must file a divorce complaint with the district court. The other spouse then can respond with a counterclaim and answer. The divorce gets considered an uncontested divorce if the other spouse fails to do so. Even if only one spouse signed the divorce papers, this is true.
You’re required to submit the following mandatory documents. Your legal attorney will explain each of these documents in greater depth. If you are representing yourself in court, you should familiarize yourself with the procedure. More papers are needed depending on your unique situation.
- Civil Cover Sheet: This form provides general information about you, your spouse, and any children you may have.
- Summons: This form notifies your spouse of your intention to divorce them. The summons informs the other spouse that they must respond to the Complaint within 21 days or face a default, in which case you will get awarded everything you requested in your Complaint.
- Divorce Complaint: This document outlines your wishes for custody, temporary child and spousal support, property division, debt, alimony, and name changes to the court and your spouse. This form gets used to start a divorce case.
- Affidavit of Resident Witness: One spouse must be a Nevada resident to file for divorce in Nevada. The Affidavit of Resident Witness certifies that one of the spouses lived in Nevada for a minimum of six weeks before the divorce and intends to stay. The Resident Witness Affidavit must get completed by a friend, coworker, or family member who sees you 3-4 times per week. Only one of the divorced parties must reside in Nevada. The other spouse can complete any necessary divorce forms via mail.
Nevada has two types of divorce proceedings—formal and summary. When a couple uses legal proceedings, it is usually because one spouse refuses to cooperate. Another reason is an unresolved issue such as alimony or community property division. On the other hand, summary or joint petitions get filed when both spouses agree to the divorce, and they don’t need a judge to resolve the allocation of assets and parental rights.
5. Organizing your legal documents
To ensure a smooth divorce process, make sure you have the following legal documents.
- End-of-life plans: These include your will, powers of attorney, advance healthcare directives, etc.
- Insurance policies: These include life insurance, long-term disability, long-term care, identity theft, etc.
- Tax returns: These include three years’ worth of W-2s or three years’ worth of 1099s.
- Business jointly or separately owned by you and your spouse): These include registrations, patents or trademarks, receipts, tax returns, payroll information, etc.
You also need to update your will and powers of attorney. Make sure to update your real estate plan and financial plans. Change titles on your assets, from your cars to houses. To resolve any tax issues, contact an accountant. In most cases, taxes during the year of divorce are quite complicated. Check if they require any specific information to file your taxes under your divorce decree.
You will need to update your insurance policies to no longer be financially responsible for your spouse. Call your agent to see if you can get your insurance policies since most couples use the same agent or company for their auto, home, and life insurance.
Additionally, the beneficiary on these accounts may be your ex-spouse, so change it to your children, siblings, relatives, or close friends.
Did you split a pension or a retirement account? Have you split your IRAs or 401(k)s with your spouse? Make contact with the broker and begin the process.
You’ll need to update the beneficiaries on your bank accounts, investment accounts, and insurance policies. By Nevada law, most beneficiaries are automatically void after a divorce. You should, however, make the necessary changes.
This will entail speaking with your HR department, insurance agent, bank, credit card company, and investment adviser. Changing the beneficiary is usually a simple process. It’s usually just a form that you fill out.
6. Planning your finances
Financial planning is essential for ensuring your and your family’s long-term well-being after the divorce.
Organize your financial documents
Make sure you gather the following financial documents for both you and your spouse.
- Bank: This includes your account numbers and current statement.
- Cash: This means a list of cash amounts on-hand at home.
- Credit report: This means a copy of your current credit report.
- Health savings account: This includes your account number and current statement.
- Inheritance: This pertains to the amount of inheritance you received before and during your marriage and a description of how you spent it.
- Home equity lines of credit and mortgage debt include a current loan statement and evidence of any mortgage payments you’ve made after moving out of the house.
- Personal loans: This includes a list of anyone who owes you money, how much they owe you, and when they’ll pay you back.
- Retirement account(s): This includes your account numbers, current statement, and Qualified Domestic Relations Order.
Separate your finances from your spouse
You need to protect your money from your spouse by ditching joint bank accounts. Make sure to get your own checking and savings account. If your ex-spouse wants to keep joint accounts open, you may be vulnerable to overdrafts or excessive charges on your credit card. This also means you need to reroute your paychecks into your new bank accounts immediately.
Ensure that the cards are only in your name and that your name gets removed from any credit cards your spouse may still be using. Make a small credit purchase with a credit card only in your name. This will begin to improve your credit score.
Online accounts such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and E-trade should also get updated. Check to make sure your spouse isn’t a signer or a beneficiary. If necessary, change your name on these accounts. You also need to ensure your utilities, digital subscriptions, and other household bills get transferred to your name.
Understand divorce expenses
In Nevada, the cost of ending a marriage gets determined by several factors, including:
- Whether or not the split gets contested;
- The financial assets of the parties are complex;
- Whether or not there are any concerns about custody; and
- Whether or not a party requires assistance in locating a missing spouse.
The Nevada district court charges a filing fee of around $300, regardless of the type of divorce.
Attorney fees do not get included in the price—the majority of Nevada divorce attorneys bill by the hour, with a minimum retainer.
Each spouse will spend several thousand dollars on a typical contested divorce involving two attorneys. However, your costs may be higher or lower depending on how complicated your divorce is.
Plan and examine your post-divorce finances
Divorce affects your finances in several ways: you may lose your spouse’s income, return to work, pay child support, or relocate (more on that in a minute). The financial losses can be challenging for single parents who have sole custody of their children. As a result, it’s critical to be realistic about your financial situation. Make sure to plan out your post-divorce household finances and budget. Consider raising your monthly income, especially if you have children you need to support.
7. Making decisions based on what's best for your children
Divorce also affects a married couple’s children and their future. If you have kids, make sure to address the following issues when planning for your divorce.
- Child custody: Do you want to share custody of your children with the other party? Will one of you have primary custody, and the other have visitation?
- Parenting Schedule: When will the kids be with you? On which days do you spend time with your partner? How will the vacations be divided?
- Child support: How will each spouse support the child? Child support in Nevada gets calculated using a set percentage of the non-custodial parent’s gross monthly income. The exact amount gets determined by the number of minor children in the household.
- Tax credit: When you have a child, who gets the tax credit? A judge may order that one parent receives the tax credit in even years while the other receives it in odd years.
- Religious upbringing: Is the children’s religious upbringing up to date? Do they currently attend church services? Will that change once the divorce gets finalized?
- Education: Who will pay for college education, or will neither party pay? In Nevada, this does not get required.
Regarding residency rules for children, Nevada divorce laws state that the state has no jurisdiction over the children of the marriage until they have lived in Nevada for at least six months, according to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act.
The Nevada court cannot address physical custody issues if the children have not been in Nevada for the six months immediately preceding filing for divorce in Nevada. Child support will get addressed, but not custody or visitation.
Even if all of the children’s issues can’t get resolved because the children haven’t been in Nevada for six months, Nevada divorce laws still give the court jurisdiction over the marriage (assuming the parent filing the divorce is a current resident).
If you’re having trouble deciding on physical custody, visitation, or child support, talk to a professional, licensed mediator before filing your divorce.
Many people divorcing in Nevada with children find that working with a family law attorney on a collaborative divorce is hugely beneficial.
8. Examine your post-divorce plans
Changing your last name
Women have the option of changing back their last names. If you want to revert to your maiden name, you must do so through the Social Security Administration. A copy of the divorce order and identification, such as your current driver’s license or passport, is required. Your name must get changed back to your maiden name on your divorce decree. Notify all creditors of the change once this gets completed.
Before changing your driver’s license in Nevada, you must first change your name with the Social Security Administration. If you’re applying for a REAL ID, you’ll need to have your name changed with the US government.
Finding a place to live
If you keep the house, it may feel like you’ve won. But the bigger question is if you can still afford your rent or mortgage costs. Ideally, your housing expenses should only cost 25% of your take-home pay. Don’t be afraid to relocate or downsize if it’s more affordable.
Divorce is not an easy process. You may feel overwhelmed right now about all the things you need to consider. Hiring a seasoned divorce lawyer is crucial to ensure you get the guidance you need. If you or someone you know needs a divorce lawyer, call us at (702) 433-2889. You can also fill out our online form for more information.
Don’t forget to explore these informative posts as well:
- “Nevada Divorce: Get the Facts“
- “Las Vegas Divorce Attorney“
- “How To Get Divorced Now Without Spending A Ton Of Money“
- “Ending Your Short-Term Marriage“
- “End the Battle Over Money During a Divorce“
- “How Long Does a Divorce in Nevada Take?“
- “How to Plan for Divorce in Las Vegas“
- “How to Choose a Divorce Attorney in Nevada“
- “Annulment vs. Divorce“
- “Social Media And Divorce“
These posts provide valuable insights, tips, and facts about divorce in Nevada and specifically in Las Vegas. Take advantage of this information to make well-informed decisions and navigate your divorce journey more confidently.
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