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 the state of Nevada, our Las Vegas family law attorneys discuss the following 12 key things to know:
- 1. Who can file for divorce in Nevada?
- 2. What are the grounds for divorcing in Nevada?
- 3. How do I file for divorce in Nevada?
- 4. What is the divorce process in Nevada?
- 5. Separation agreements
- 6. How is marital property divided in Nevada?
- 7. How is spousal support (alimony) calculated in Nevada?
- 8. How are child custody and support determined?
- 9. How much does ending a marriage cost in Las Vegas?
- 10. How long does it take?
- 11. Are proceedings public?
- 12. Why should I hire a Las Vegas divorce lawyer?
Also see our article on legal separations, which is an alternative to dissolving a marriage.
In order to dissolve a marriage 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 (though you don’t have to).
Nevada is a “no-fault” divorce state. People filing to dissolve their marriage 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
See our article, If I married in Las Vegas, can I pursue divorcing in another state?
A person seeking a dissolution of marriage must file a complaint for divorce with the district court. The proper court is the one located in the county where:
- The cause for the split 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 divorcing is considered uncontested. This is true even if only one party signed the divorce papers.
See our related articles, Does it matter who files to end a marriage first in Nevada? and Disadvantages of filing for divorcing first in Nevada.
Only one party to the divorce needs to live in Nevada. The other spouse can complete any necessary divorce forms by mail.
Or, if the other person is not cooperating, the person seeking the dissolution of marriage 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.
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.
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.”
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 dissolution 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.
Nevada offers two types of proceedings for marital dissolution:
- Formal, or
Once the court has granted either type of dissolution, it is final. The marriage is dissolved.
Couples use formal proceedings when:
- One spouse is not cooperating, or
- There is a contested issue such as alimony or division of community property. (Separate property before the marriage remains separate property)
There is no jury trial in a Nevada divorce proceeding. A judge determines all findings of fact.
The judge will grant the dissolution if it appears that grounds for ending the marriage exist. The judge will also conduct hearings if requested by either party. During the hearing, the judge determines issues such as:
- Child custody and support of minor children,
- Alimony / separate maintenance, and
- Division of marital assets.
The judge may also order one spouse to pay the other spouse’s costs (including attorney fees) of the legal proceeding.
See our related article about divorce trials.
Nevada has a streamlined process known as “summary divorce” or “joint petition.” Couples can file for this when:
- They are in agreement about splitting up, and
- They do not need a judge to allocate assets or parental rights.
To qualify, a couple must meet ALL of the following conditions:
- Both people have agreed to a marital dissolution;
- 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 legal 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 proceeding.6
Summary divorce has the same residency requirements as a formal one. But in a summary proceeding, the spouses apply for it together.7
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. Once the court grants the marital dissolution, 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 split.
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.
Nevada is a community property state. Community property consists of most
- real estate, and
acquired during the marriage. Courts usually divide these assets 50/50 between the spouses unless there is a prenuptial agreement.
During the dissolution 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
Also see our article on pet custody in Nevada divorce cases.
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
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 minor children.
There is 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, child care, or special education), and
- The parent’s situation, including financial condition.10
Child custody is determined by the best interest of the child in Nevada (NRS 125C.0035).
The cost of ending a marriage in Nevada depends on several factors, including:
- Whether the split 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.
A divorce in Nevada can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months or more. The primary factors are:
- What type of split 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 to get a final decree of divorce in Nevada is:
- Summary: 1-3 weeks
- Uncontested formal: Up to 6 weeks
- Uncontested divorce by publication: Up to 4 months
- Contested: Up to 3 months (or longer if the assets are very complex).
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.
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 attorney is crucial.
The right lawyers can help you protect your parental and property rights without unnecessarily aggravating your ex.
Call us for help…
If you are thinking about dissolving your marriage in Las Vegas we invite you to call us for a free consultation and legal advice.
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.
- NRS 125.020.
- NRS 125.010; for instance spousal rape (NRS 200.373) is not one of the three legal grounds for divorce, but the victim spouse can report it to the police, and it can potentially come in as evidence during a divorce trial.
- NRS 125.020.
- Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule (2).
- Same, Rule 4(e)(1)(iii).
- NRS 125.181.
- NRS 125.182.
- NRS 125.141.
- NRS 125.270.
- See NRS 125B.080.
- NRS 125.080.