Uncontested Divorce: A Detailed Guide
To Help You Get A Fast, Cheap Las Vegas Divorce Now (From The Experts)
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Uncontested Divorce In Las Vegas
Are you looking to get divorced fast and cheap?
Filing an uncontested divorce in Las Vegas is probably the fastest, cheapest way to get divorced.
Let’s face it. . .
If you and your spouse agree on everything (alimony, division of assets and debts, child custody and child support), the time and money you can save yourself by filing an uncontested divorce far outweighs the agony and expense of being in a knock-down drag-out divorce!
While we still suggest you consult with a qualified divorce lawyer before filing, we have prepared this detailed guide to help you through the uncontested divorce process in Las Vegas.
What Is An Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce means that every single aspect of your divorce case is agreed upon between the spouses and can be submitted to the judge for a final decree.
The key here is that all aspects of the divorce must be agreed to in order for the divorce to be considered an uncontested divorce.
In uncontested divorces, this means that child custody, visitation, child support, tax deductions for minor children, health insurance holidays with children, vacation time with children, division of assets, division of debts and alimony must be 100% agreed to when the paperwork is filed.
We know… it can seem like a lot to consider and reaching agreements on these issues can be overwhelming.
However, if you want to divorce fast and cheap, an uncontested divorce requires everything be agreed to in advance.
And the best part?
An uncontested divorce usually means that neither spouse has to go to Court.
What If My Spouse and I Want An Uncontested Divorce
But We Don’t Agree To Everything?
As we said above, an uncontested divorce requires that everything be agreed to before the paperwork is submitted to the judge for a final decision.
And we get it…it’s not easy to agree to everything especially when you are getting a divorce.
If you want to try to reach agreements with your spouse before paperwork is filed for your divorce, you can try to negotiate directly with your spouse or you can even hire a mediator to try to resolve any issues before your divorce paperwork is submitted for a final decree.
How Do I Qualify For An Uncontested Divorce In Nevada?
In order to file for an uncontested divorce, you have to meet two requirements.
First, you need to meet the residency requirement.
If you want a Nevada divorce, you must live in Nevada for at least 6 weeks before you file your divorce paperwork.
You will be required to submit an affidavit from someone over the age of 18 who can attest that you actually live in the state.
It never fails that we get folks who move to Las Vegas for the sole intent of filing for divorce. Keep in mind that judges will scrutinize an uncontested divorce where one of the spouses just moved to Nevada and filed for divorce immediately after the 6 week deadline.
How do you prove you are a resident if the judge asks?
The most common way is to present a driver’s license.
But let’s face it . . . people move to Vegas and rarely change their driver’s license until it is set to expire.
So if you don’t have a driver’s license, you should be able to show proof of income in Nevada with a paycheck stub or employment contract.
If you aren’t employed and don’t have a driver’s license, you should be prepared to present a copy of your lease or mortgage statements, proof of utility bills in your name, a Nevada bank account in your name and other similar documents to show residency.
Keep in mind that only one spouse needs to be a resident to file an uncontested divorce in Nevada.
You will also need to meet one of the statutory grounds for divorce.
The three statutory grounds for divorce in Nevada are: (1) incompatibility; (2) insanity; and (3) spouses living separate and apart for more than one year.
If a spouse is filing for divorce on the grounds of insanity, the spouse must demonstrate the insanity existed two years prior to the filing of the divorce.
Most people who file an uncontested divorce in Las Vegas simply state that they are incompatible in marriage and there is no possibility of reconciliation (at least at the time the divorce is submitted).
So, if you meet the residency requirements and the statutory grounds for an uncontested Las Vegas divorce, keep reading to learn more about the divorce process.
What is the process for getting an uncontested divorce in Las Vegas?
Getting a divorce is supposed to be super easy.
However, many clients find the process difficult and overwhelming.
In addition, if you have an uncontested divorce there are two different ways to get to the final divorce decree.
So don’t worry . . .
We explain the process for getting an uncontested divorce step by step.
The Joint Petition For An Uncontested Divorce
One option for filing an uncontested divorce is to file a joint petition.
The joint petition is often referred to as a two signature divorce because it requires both spouses to sign off on the petition.
If you are using a joint petition, you will need to make sure every aspect of your divorce is included in the joint petition.
Specifically, you and your spouse need to include the following provisions:
Division of assets: including, but not limited to, a specific description of each asset like the VIN number for cars, the address and APN number for real property and bank account numbers and the institutions where funds are held, and the percentage each spouse will get;
Division of debts: consumer debt should include the name of the debtor and the account numbers, loans should be specific, car notes and mortgage payments should also be specific, and again you will want to identify how each debt will be divided and when payments on the debts are expected to be made
Spousal support/alimony/maintenance: you will want to specify whether or not a spouse is getting alimony, and if how so, how much, for how long and how it will be paid; if no support is being paid, you need to specify this in the joint petition
If you have children, all provisions for your children need to be specified: regular visitation, holiday visitation, vacation time, transportation, child support, minor child tax deductions, health insurance, extracurricular expenses, passports, and other matters that might affect your minor children should be specified in your joint petition
Any other issues that may arise: if you are dividing up a business or one spouse is being paid their interest in a business this should be explained in the joint petition; if current tax obligations or refunds are an issue this also needs to be explained in the joint petition
Once you have completed the joint petition in detail and you and your spouse have signed it, you will need to take it, along with the Civil Cover Sheet, to the Eighth Judicial District Court, Family Division for filing. Again you will need to pay the filing fee of $299 at the time you file your joint petition.
You will also need to file an Affidavit of Resident Witness from someone who says they know at least one spouse and that the spouse is a bona fide resident of Clark County.
You will also need to file a Request for Summary Disposition. This let’s the judge know that everything in your divorce is agreed to and you are ready to have the judge review the paperwork and sign your Decree of Divorce.
If you have children, you will need to complete the COPE class. Once you complete the class, you will receive a certificate and you and your spouse must file your COPE certificates into your divorce case to prove you have completed the class. Most judges will not grant a divorce unless you complete the COPE class and file your certificate with the court.
Submitting Your Decree and Finalizing Your Divorce
Once you have filed your joint petition, affidavit of resident witness, request for summary disposition and COPE certificates (if needed), you will need to take your Decree of Divorce to the 3rd floor of the Family Court and leave it in your judge’s bin to be reviewed. You should expect to receive a call from the judge’s staff at least 2 days to 30 days after the decree is submitted. At that time, the judge’s staff will let you know if your judge has approved your divorce or if there are changes you need to make to your paperwork.
If all goes well, the judge will sign the Decree of Divorce and you will be able to file it with the Court. Once the Decree of Divorce is filed your uncontested divorce is complete. You will want to be sure to enter the Decree and mail copies of the Notice of Entry of Decree of Divorce to your spouse and file a Certificate of Mailing proving the final decree was provided to your spouse.
Filing An Uncontested Divorce Complaint
If you believe your spouse won’t sign a joint petition or if you cant find your spouse or if your spouse just doesn’t want to participate in the divorce process, you can still obtain an uncontested divorce in Las Vegas.
However, there may be more steps and it may take longer than filing a joint petition.
Filing the Complaint for Divorce and additional documents
You can file a Complaint for Divorce instead of a joint petition. The Complaint only requires your signature.
Your Complaint for Divorce should include the same detail as your joint petition. Specifically you will need to include information about assets and debts, alimony, child custody, child support and other child matters, and any other matters you need to include.
You will take your Civil Cover Sheet, Complaint for Divorce, Summons and Joint Preliminary Injunction to the Eighth Judicial Family Court for processing. The court clerk will give you a filed Complaint and issue the Summons and Joint Preliminary Injunction.
Serving Your Spouse With the Divorce Papers
Once you have the Complaint, Summons and Joint Preliminary Injunction, you will need to give them to a third party to serve on your spouse.
You can use a process server or an independent third party, over the age of 18, to serve the documents. A friend or adult family member is recommended. You should not use adult children to serve their parent.
Keep in mind that the documents must be personally served on your spouse. YOU CANNOT MAIL THEM OR LEAVE THEM ON YOUR SPOUSES DOORSTEP.
If you are able to have your spouse personally served, you will need to get the server to prepare an Affidavit of Service which must be filed into your divorce case.
If you are unable to personally serve your spouse, you will need to publish your divorce. You should contact Nevada Legal News for publication. Once the publication period is complete, you will receive an Affidavit of Service by Publication which must be filed into your divorce case.
Whether you have your spouse personally served or you serve by publication you only have 120 days from the day your divorce is filed to serve your spouse. If you cant get your spouse served in time, your case will likely be dismissed and you will have to start the process of filing an uncontested divorce over from the beginning.
After Your Spouse Is Served
After your spouse is served, you should be sure to file your Affidavit of Resident Witness into your divorce.
Also, if you are divorcing and you have minor children, be sure to complete the COPE class and file your certificate of completion into your divorce.
Now you wait 20 days for your spouse to respond to the Complaint.
If your spouse responds but does not contest anything, you can submit the divorce decree and ancillary paperwork to the Court. Keep reading for more information on this.
If your spouse doesn’t file a response, you will need to default your spouse by submitting a Default to the Clerk of the Court to be issued. Once it is issued, file the Default into your divorce case.
Finalizing Your Divorce
You will also need to complete and file a Request for Summary Disposition and an Affidavit of Plaintiff into your divorce case. These documents let your judge know that the Decree of Divorce is ready to be reviewed by the judge and signed by the judge upon approval.
Finalize your Decree of Divorce and deliver it to your judge’s bin on the third floor of the Family Court. Then wait 2 days to 30 days for your judge to review the documents in your case.
If all goes well, the judge’s staff will notify you the decree has been signed. If changes are needed, the judge’s staff will let you know.
Once the decree is approved and signed by the judge, you need to file it into your divorce case.
You will also want to be sure to enter the decree and mail it to your spouse’s last known address. File your certificate of mailing to prove the decree was mailed. And that’s it. You are divorced.
If your spouse disagrees with the divorce and files an Answer denying any of the allegations in your complaint or if your spouse file a Counterclaim asking for something different than what is in your complaint, you are no longer involved in an uncontested divorce. Instead, you will need to attend Court hearings and possibly have a trial to get divorced.
Here Are Some Answers To Your Most Frequently Asked Questions About Uncontested Divorce In Las Vegas
It is hard to know whether or not to file an uncontested divorce.
Even if you know your divorce will be uncontested, we still get lots of questions about the process and procedure.
Here are answers to some of your Frequently Asked Questions about Las Vegas Uncontested Divorces:
How long does will it take for my uncontested divorce to be finalized in Las Vegas?
If you do it right or have a lawyer do it right, it generally takes anywhere from 2 days to 4 weeks to receive a decree of divorce from the time the initial paperwork is filed.
Why 4 weeks you might ask?
Well most of the family court judges in Las Vegas will sign off on your paperwork in 2 to 10 days.
But . . . there are a few judges the really scrutinize the uncontested divorce filings and those judges can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to process your paperwork.
Unfortunately, there is no way to pick the judge for your uncontested divorce so it is really just luck of the draw.
Does my spouse need to hire a lawyer if we are filing an uncontested divorce? Cant we just use one attorney?
While it is not required that your spouse have a lawyer, we usually recommend that both parties have lawyers even when filing for an uncontested divorce.
As lawyers, our goal is to the decree is clear and ensure there are no hidden items so that both parties stay out of court after the divorce is final. Think of it this way – the lawyers are there to make sure the agreements are fair for both sides and to make sure all of it i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.
Going back to court to litigate an undisclosed asset or renegotiate child support can be time consuming and very expensive. When both sides have lawyers, in most cases, these issues are resolved in the initial paperwork avoiding the need to return to Court.
And, most lawyers handling uncontested divorces will only represent one spouse, not both, as this could be a conflict of interest.
So again, while it is not required that both spouses have their own lawyers, we do recommend it.
What happens if I signed a joint petition, but change my mind about the divorce terms?
If you have signed a joint petition but change your mind and your decree has not been signed and filed by the judge, you can file a Notice to Withdraw Signature with the family court. At this point, you and your spouse will be in contested divorce litigation. You will probably also need to file a motion to explain to the Court why you no longer agree with the terms of the joint petition and to ask for alternative relief.
For example, if you signed a joint petition saying no alimony, but you change your mind and say you now want alimony, you will need to withdraw your signature from the joint petition by filing a notice with the Court. You should then file a motion explaining to the judge what has changed or why agreeing to no alimony in the first place was not fair. Again this must be done before your divorce decree is final.
If your divorce decree has already been finalized, signed by the judge and filed into your case, you will need to file a motion to modify the decree or have it set aside. Making changes to an already finalized decree can be difficult and there are strict time frames to make changes, so we strongly suggest you consult with an attorney.
Is there any reason the judge will not grant my uncontested divorce?
There are many reasons a judge may not sign off on an uncontested divorce. First, if your judge thinks you are not a resident, the judge can refuse the divorce.
For example, we had a case where the divorce was uncontested, but the judge didn’t believe our client was a resident. The judge denied the divorce and asked our client to refile the divorce after she had lived in Las Vegas for more than six weeks. The second time around, our client obtained a job in Las Vegas and had a driver’s license when she filed. The judge immediately granted her divorce.
Second, if the judge feels your paperwork is incomplete, the judge may ask for more clarification or ask for additional terms to be added to your paperwork.
For example, if you file a decree of divorce that says your spouse will get the marital residence but you don’t list the address or your spouse gets the car but you don’t identify the car, the judge may return the decree and ask you to clarify these assets with more details like an address or VIN number. We also see decrees returned because child support is not properly calculated. If you are divorcing with children, the law requires child support calculations be included in your divorce decree.
Finally, the judge may not agree with certain provisions of your divorce and may reject your decree.
For example, if you divorce with children and you say the you are getting sole legal and sole physical custody of your children, chances are the judge will not sign off on the decree of divorce without you going into court and explaining why you are getting sole custody.
This is why we strongly suggest you hire an attorney for your uncontested divorce.
How Much Does An Uncontested Divorce Cost In Las Vegas?
The fees and costs for filing an uncontested divorce depend on the type of filing.
Whether you file a joint petition or decide to file a complaint for divorce, the filing fees alone are $299. Yes! That’s $299 just to file your case.
In addition to the filing fees, if you decide to file a Complaint for Divorce, you may also incur fees for hiring a process server and for publishing the Complaint. This can cost an extra $200-$300 depending on how difficult your spouse is to serve.
The bottom line?
You should expect to pay at least $300-$750 just to file your case depending on the type of uncontested divorce you file and how difficult your spouse is to serve. There may be additional fees for notary services and court runner fees if you are doing an the divorce yourself.
Beware of anyone telling you they can do an uncontested divorce for $500 or less. This usually means you are paying a notary or paralegal NOT a lawyer. It is highly likely that this does not include filing fees, process server fees and publication costs. For $500 or less you might find yourself do most, if not ALL of the work to get your divorce done.
If you hire an attorney, usually the total fees include the costs for filing the paperwork, process server fees, notary fees and the publication costs. Keep in mind though that fees and costs vary from law firm to law firm depending on how complicated your case is.
For an uncontested divorce at our firm, our fees begin anywhere from $650 to $3500 which includes the filing fees, service of process fees, notary fees, publication costs and court runner fees. The total amount of attorney’s fees and costs depend on the complexity of the case, the number of filings needed and whether or not a court appearance is required, among other things.
For more information about our fees and costs for an uncontested divorce call us at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line form.
How Can I Find A Divorce Attorney To Handle My Uncontested Divorce?
Deciding to hire a lawyer for your uncontested divorce can feel overwhelming.
Let’s face it! There are lawyers practically everywhere in Las Vegas, but not all lawyers are created equal especially when it comes to family law.
If you are filing an uncontested divorce, we strongly recommend that you find an experienced divorce lawyer.
There are just too many things that can go wrong and hiring your buddy who does personal injury cases leaves you open to problems that could occur down the line. This can lead to anger and frustration and will probably end up costing you lots of money in the end.
Believe us. . .
It is important to find an experienced divorce attorney who can best represent your interests from the beginning of your case.
In addition, if you are contemplating a joint petition, you will want to make sure that any divorce lawyer you talk to actually prepares joint petitions. (SECRET: Not all family lawyers handle divorces and not all family lawyers that handle divorces draft joint petitions!)
So how do you find the right divorce lawyer that can manage your uncontested divorce?
Keep reading . . .
There are lots of websites devoted to finding attorneys.
Avvo, Findlaw and even Yelp have a plethora of lawyer listings.
It’s important to remember that when you research lawyers online, the internet isn’t always 100% accurate in depicting a lawyer’s knowledge or capabilities.
If you begin your search by looking online for a family law attorney, be sure the lawyer has experience handling divorces and specifically uncontested divorces.
Ask Family And Friends
If you live in Las Vegas or know people who do, we suggest that you ask family and friends for recommendations.
When asking for references, be specific with them and tell them you want a lawyer that has experience with uncontested divorces or a lawyer who is going to help you and your spouse resolve your divorce amicably.
Once you’ve identified a few family law attorneys, call their office and schedule an appointment to ask questions about your case. Again, make sure your potential lawyer has experience with uncontested divorces or that the lawyer feels comfortable drafting joint petitions.
Interview Potential Lawyers
Before you give any lawyer a dollar, make sure you talk to them about your case first.
Don’t be afraid to ask the lawyer questions about how much they charge, how long they think the process will take, how quickly they can get your paperwork filed and how practical it is for your case to be uncontested.
Be sure the lawyer explains things in a way you understand and that you feel confident after speaking with the lawyer than they can handle your case.
Finally, be sure to discuss legal fees with the attorney. After all finding a lawyer that’s a great fit won’t work if you cant afford the legal fees.
If you have the lawyer that fits, that you trust and like and that fits in your budget, move forward and get your uncontested divorce completed!
For more information about our fees, our experience with uncontested divorces and how we can help you, call us at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line form.