Las Vegas Divorce Questions &
Nevada Divorce Law
"Will a Las Vegas divorce attorney be able to help me with my divorce?"
General Rule: You can obtain a Las Vegas divorce if you have lived in Clark County for at least 6 weeks (NRS 125.020) and you and your spouse are no longer compatible (NRS 125.010). The Court will not make you prove your incompatibility, but you will have to obtain an affidavit from a third party (another family member, neighbor, friend, or co-worker) who can verify that you meet the 6-week residency requirement.
Complications: Jurisdiction, that is, the powers of the court to make decisions over you and your divorce, can be very complicated, and jurisdictional issues may arise if at least one of the parties resides in another state. A Las Vegas divorce attorney can look at your individual circumstances to make sure a Las Vegas divorce is right for you. Take a look at some of the examples below:
"My wife lives in California, and I just moved to Las Vegas last year. Am I able to file for a Las Vegas divorce?"
Answer: The short answer is yes, because you have been living in Las Vegas, Nevada for over six weeks, you can obtain a Las Vegas divorce. However, some complications may arise if there are issues that need to be resolved such as spousal support and division of certain property and debts. In situations like these, the question arises as to whether or not the Court has the power to force your out-of-state spouse to do certain things, such as pay spousal support or transfer title to out-of-state property. This power over the person is referred to as “personal jurisdiction." A qualified Las Vegas divorce attorney will be able to assist you with some of these complex issues.”
“Can I get spousal support from my out-of-state spouse if I file for a Las Vegas Divorce?”
Answer: Alimony and other specific obligations can only be imposed on an out-of-state spouse if the court has personal jurisdiction over that spouse. Generally, Nevada courts have personal jurisdiction over a party in a Nevada divorce if that spouse has significant connections to this state, or if the out-of-state spouse submits to the jurisdiction of the court.
Nevada's "Long Arm Statute" (NRS 14.065) allows Nevada courts to assert personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state spouse under certain conditions. NRS 14.065 allows Nevada divorce courts to assert jurisdiction over individuals “on any basis consistent with state and federal constitutions.” This statute is very broad, but the powers of courts within this state are somewhat constrained by the Due Process Clause of the US Constitution.
In practice, Nevada courts may assert personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state spouse when the out-of-state spouse is served with the summons and complaint for divorce within this state. Cariaga v. Eighth Judicial District Court, 104 Nev. 544 (1988). Jurisdiction has also been deemed proper when the out-of-state spouse lived within this state during the course of the marriage. Lewis v. Lewis, 695 F. Supp. 1089 (Nev. Dist. 1988). Additionally, if the out-of-state spouse fails to bring up the issue of jurisdiction in her first responsive pleading, she may inadvertently have waived that defense, and essentially consented to jurisdiction. An out-of-state spouse may have also committed other acts that constitute “minimum contacts” sufficient to allow for the assertion of personal jurisdiction over her. It is impossible to include every possible action that could constitute “minimum contacts” for the purpose of having a Nevada court assert personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state spouse. A Las Vegas divorce attorney can help you analyze the specific facts of your case to determine whether or not a Las Vegas divorce is right for you.
Jurisdictional issues can involve complex statutory and constitutional provisions that may affect your case. If your case involves an out-of-state-spouse, your Las Vegas divorce may be subject to jurisdictional limitations that should not be ignored. For example, if you are granted a Las Vegas divorce, but the court did not have personal jurisdiction over spousal support claims, you may lose your right to make a claim for spousal support at a later date because most state courts can only grant spousal support in divorce cases. Once the divorce has been granted, courts lose the ability to grant such relief.
Each divorce case is unique; pre-printed forms and paralegals are ill equipped to address the various complexities that can arise during the course of your case. It is often wise to seek the assistance of a competent Las Vegas divorce attorney to help you with your case. A competent Las Vegas divorce attorney will help to protect your assets, your claims regarding spousal support, and ensure that all of the marital assets and debts are equitably divided.
“My husband moved to Arizona with our 14-year-old son. Will a Nevada court be able to address custody and child support issues if I file for a Las Vegas divorce?”
Answer: The answer to this question depends on the length of time that has passed since the child moved out of the state. Generally, a court of this state will have jurisdiction over custody matters only if the child has resided in this state for at least 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the complaint for divorce.
Jurisdiction over custody and child support matters can involve several complex laws, including the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (“PKPA”) and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”), a set of uniform laws applicable to all states (with some variations from state to state), as well as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (adopted by a number of countries, including the United States). Jurisdiction in child support cases involves the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (“UIFSA”) as well as Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.
More on the subject of jurisdiction in custody cases can be found in the child custody and child support sections of this website. You can also call us anytime, our Las Vegas divorce attorney offers a free initial consultation, can review the specific facts of your case, and advise you on how best to move forward with your Las Vegas divorce case.
"Can a Las Vegas divorce attorney tell me how my assets will be affected?"
General Answer: Nevada is a community property state, meaning that all property acquired during the marriage, except property acquired through inheritance, gift, or by certain types of awards for personal injury damages, is considered community property. Nevada courts seek to make an equal distribution of community property, and will sometimes force parties to sell certain assets in order to ensure that community property is equally distributed between the parties.
Complications: Certain property can be inadvertently altered, or transmuted, from separate property to community property, if care is not taken to keep community property separate from separate property. Certain types of misconduct, specifically conduct found to constitute marital waste, can also lead to an unequal distribution of community property. Also, under certain circumstances, when there is “compelling reason to do so,” the court may make an unequal distribution of community property. Take a look at some examples below, then, give us a call to speak with a qualified Las Vegas divorce attorney to ensure that your assets, and your rights, are properly protected.
“My wife committed adultery, does that mean that the court will grant an unequal distribution of community property in my favor?”
Answer: The short answer is, generally, no, although there are some exceptions to this rule. Nevada is a “no-fault” state, meaning that the court generally does not take into account marital infidelity or other non-financial misconduct when distributing community property.
Parties to a Las Vegas divorce should take into account the provisions set forth in NRS 125.150(1)(b), which states as follows:
"In granting a divorce, the court shall, to the extent practicable, make an unequal disposition of the community property of the parties, except that the court may make an unequal disposition of the community property in such proportions as it deems just if the court finds compelling reason to do so, and sets forth in writing the reasons for making the unequal disposition."
The Nevada Supreme Court has provided some guidance as to what types of situations may constitute “compelling reasons” for an unequal distribution of community property. Financial misconduct by one party in a Las Vegas divorce, such as wasting community assets, or the hiding away of assets, may constitute a compelling reason for an unequal distribution of community property. See, Lofgren v. Lofgren, 112 Nev. 1282 (1996). It is also possible that extensive gambling by one party, without the consent of the other party in a Las Vegas divorce, may constitute marital waste, justifying an unequal distribution.
In the context of marital infidelity, if an unfaithful spouse has spent community assets, such as by purchasing expensive gifts, as part of their infidelity, a court may find those expenditures to constitute community waste. Such waste by an unfaithful spouse may lead to an uneven distribution of community property.
If you suspect that your spouse has been unfaithful, and you have decided to obtain a Las Vegas divorce, you may need the assistance of an experienced Las Vegas divorce attorney. An attorney will know how to properly investigate your spouse's finances, expenditures, and assets to ensure that you are protected from any debts and expenses incurred as a result of your spouse's misconduct.
"Can a Las Vegas divorce attorney calculate how much alimony I will have to pay?"
General Answer: Alimony, sometimes known as Spousal Support or Spousal Maintenance, is highly dependent on several factors, including the length of the marriage, the relative income of the parties, and the relative earning capacity of each of the parties. Unfortunately, there is no mathematical formula for calculating alimony in a Las Divorce, but an experienced Las Vegas divorce attorney can help you estimate the amount of alimony that would be reasonable in your case.