What is the Divorce Process in Nevada?


A divorce is a legal judgment terminating a Nevada marriage. During divorce proceedings a court determines the division of community property and alimony payments. If the couple has children under 18, the court also determines child custody and child support.

To help you better understand the divorce process in Nevada, our Las Vegas family law attorneys discuss the following, below:

judge's gavel on top of paper labeled "divorce decree"

1. Who can file for divorce in Nevada?

In order to file for divorce in Nevada, at least one of the spouses must have resided in the state for at least 6 weeks.1

The court may require proof of residency. A driver's license or other state-issued identification suffices. Or you can get an affidavit from an employer or other witness who can vouch that you live in the state.

You can also use divorce proceedings to dissolve a domestic partnership in Nevada (though you don't have to).

2. What are the grounds for a divorce in Nevada?

Nevada is a “no-fault” divorce state. People filing for divorce need only give one of three reasons:

  • The spouses are incompatible,
  • The spouses have lived separately for at least 1 year, or
  • One spouse has been legally insane for at least 2 years before the other spouse files for divorce.2

3. How do I file for divorce in Nevada?

A person seeking a divorce must file a complaint with the district court. The proper court is the one located in the county where:

  • The cause for divorce occurred; or
  • Either spouse lives; or
  • The couple last lived together.3

The other spouse then has the opportunity to file an answer and counterclaim. If the other spouse fails to do so, the divorce is considered uncontested. This is true even if only one party signed the documents.

3.1. What if my spouse lives out of state?

Only one party to the divorce needs to live in Nevada. The other spouse can complete any necessary forms by mail.

Or, if the other person is not cooperating, the person seeking the divorce can serve him or her with a summons and complaint.4

You can serve a summons and complaint by any means legal in the state where your spouse lives.

Your Las Vegas divorce attorney will know how to serve papers on a non-resident spouse.

3.2. What if I don't know where my spouse is?

People who do not know where their spouse is must take reasonable steps to find him or her. These steps are known as a “due diligence” search.

If a due diligence search does not turn up the missing spouse, Nevada law allows “service by publication” in a newspaper.

3.2.1. Due diligence search for a missing spouse

A due diligence search for a missing spouse requires the petitioner to check with:

  • The post office,
  • Utility companies,
  • Telephone companies,
  • Voter registration rolls,
  • The tax assessor's office, 
  • The county recorder's office, and
  • The missing spouse's former employers, family, friends and neighbors.

Afterward, if you still cannot locate your spouse, you can conduct a “divorce by publication.”

3.2.2. Divorce by publication

The first step to "divorce by publication" is to file an affidavit with the court.

An affidavit is a notarized statement. In it the person seeking the divorce states that:

  • He/she has not seen nor heard from the missing spouse for nearly six months, and
  • He/she does not know the spouse's current whereabouts.

The court then allows the spouse to serve the summons and complaint by publication in the Nevada Legal News or another newspaper.5 Publication must be made at least once a week for 4 weeks.

The missing spouse then has 20 days in which to file a response. If the missing spouse does not respond, the court will consider the divorce uncontested.

4. What is the divorce process in Nevada?

Nevada offers two types of divorce proceedings:

  1. Formal divorce proceedings, or
  2. Summary divorce.

Once the court has granted either type of divorce, it is final. The marriage is dissolved.

couple looking at each other with judge's gavel in foreground

4.1. Formal (contested) divorce proceedings

Couples use formal divorce proceedings when:

  • One spouse is not cooperating, or
  • There is a contested issue such as alimony or division of community property.

There is no jury trial in a Nevada divorce proceeding. A judge determines all questions of law and fact.

The judge will grant the divorce if it appears that grounds for divorce exist. The judge will also conduct hearings if requested by either party. During the hearing, the judge determine issues such as:

  • Child custody and support,
  • Alimony, and
  • Division of marital assets.

The judge may also order one spouse to pay the other spouse's costs (including attorney fees) of the divorce proceeding.

4.2. Summary divorce

Nevada has a streamlined divorce process known as “summary divorce." Couples can file for summary divorce when:

  1. They are in agreement about getting divorced, and
  2. They do not need a judge to allocate assets or parental rights.

To qualify for summary divorce, a couple must meet ALL of the following conditions:

  • Both people have agreed to a divorce;
  • The spouses are incompatible or have lived apart for 1 year or more;
  • The spouses have no children under 18 or they have agreed to a custody and support arrangement;
  • There is no community property or the couple has agreed how to divide their property;
  • The parties waive their right to alimony or they have agreed to a specified amount and manner of paying it; and
  • The parties waive their rights to a more formal divorce proceeding.6

Summary divorce has the same residency requirements as a formal divorce. But in a summary divorce, the spouses apply for the divorce together.7

5. Separation agreements

Spouses that have agreed to issues such as alimony and division of property can sign a “separation agreement.”

They can negotiate and sign a separation agreement either before or after they file for divorce. Once the court grants the divorce, the separation agreement becomes a legally binding contract.

Couples usually negotiate a separation agreement when they want a summary divorce. But a separation agreement can be useful even in a contested divorce.

Anything the couples can agree to in advance is something the court does not have to decide. So having a separation agreement can speed up the process.

6. How is marital property divided in Nevada?

Nevada is a community property state. Community property consists of most 

  • money,
  • real estate, and
  • goods

acquired during the marriage. Courts usually divide these assets 50/50 between the spouses unless there is a prenuptial agreement.

During the divorce process, one spouse may offer the other a settlement agreement concerning property rights. If the other spouse accepts, the court will usually divide the property according to the agreement.

If, however, a spouse rejects a reasonable offer his spouse makes in good faith, there can be consequences. The court can order the spouse who rejected the offer to pay the other spouse's attorney's fees and court costs.8

7. How is spousal support (alimony) calculated in Nevada?

There is no precise statutory formula for spousal support in Nevada. The court will consider factors such as:

  • The relative earning capacity of each spouse, 
  • The possibility of education or training to increase the earning capacity of a spouse, 
  • The amount of property owned by each spouse, and 
  • The length of the marriage.

Awards of spousal support can be temporary or permanent. Additionally, ex-spouses can petition the court from time to time to reduce or increase alimony.9

young girl standing in between parents who are looking unhappy and signing a document

8. How are child custody and support determined?

In Nevada, child support is based on a fixed percentage of the non-custodial parent's gross monthly income. The precise amount depends on the number of children.

There is a usually a minimum payment of $100 per month per child, and a maximum of just over $1,000 per child. But the amount can vary depending on:

  • A child's individual needs (such as health care or special education), and
  • The parent's situation.10

9. How much does a divorce cost in Las Vegas?

The cost of a divorce in Nevada depends on several factors, including:

  • Whether the divorce is contested;
  • How complex the parties' financial assets are; 
  • Whether there are custody issues; and
  • Whether a party needs to locate a missing spouse.

Regardless of the type of divorce, the Nevada district court charges a filing fee of approximately $300.

Attorney fees are additional. Most Nevada divorce lawyers charge by the hour with a minimum retainer.

A typical contested divorce involving two attorneys will cost each spouse several thousand dollars. However, your cost may be more or less depending on how complex your divorce is.

10. How long does a divorce take in Las Vegas?

A divorce in Nevada can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months or more. The primary factors are:

  • What type of divorce is being sought (formal or summary), 
  • Whether there are children under 18,
  • Whether the parties have already agreed to the division of assets,
  • How complex or large the marital estate is, and
  • The court's caseload.

In general, the amount of time needed for a divorce in Nevada is:

  • Summary divorce: 1-3 weeks
  • Uncontested formal divorce: Up to 6 weeks
  • Uncontested divorce by publication: Up to 4 months
  • Contested divorce: Up to 3 months (or longer if the assets are very complex).

11. Are divorce proceedings public?

Divorce proceedings are normally public in Nevada. But either spouse can demand that the court conduct hearings privately.11

If the proceedings are private, the only people present will be:

  • The judge,
  • The spouses and their attorneys,
  • Court officers, and
  • Any necessary witnesses or family members.

And even family members and witnesses can be excluded if good cause is shown.

12. Why should I hire a Las Vegas divorce lawyer?

Doing your own divorce can be a good option -- especially when it is a summary divorce.

But even when the decision to end a marriage is mutual, the issues can get complicated. And when there are children or significant assets - such as a house - having an experienced Las Vegas divorce lawyer is crucial.

The right lawyers can help you protect your parental and property rights without unnecessarily aggravating your ex. 

Getting divorced in Las Vegas? Call us for help…

female receptionist

If you are thinking about getting divorced in Las Vegas we invite you to call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation.

Or fill out the form on this page and one of our caring and experienced Las Vegas divorce lawyers will get back to you promptly to discuss your case.


Legal references:

  1. NRS 125.020.
  2. NRS 125.010.
  3. NRS 125.020.
  4. Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule (2).
  5. Same, Rule 4(e)(1)(iii).
  6. NRS 125.181.
  7. NRS 125.182.
  8. NRS 125.141.
  9. NRS 125.270.
  10. See NRS 125B.080.
  11. NRS 125.080.

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