To help you better understand when a spouse is entitled to alimony in a Nevada divorce case, our Las Vegas family law attorneys discuss the following, below:
- 1. How does a court determine alimony in a Nevada divorce?
- 2. Is alimony always awarded as a monthly payment?
- 3. Can alimony ever be reduced or increased in Nevada?
- 4. What if my spouse or I get remarried?
- 5. What if my spouse dies?
- 6. What if my spouse and I had a prenuptial agreement?
- 7. Can I get temporary spousal support while the divorce is pending?
- 8. Can I get alimony for job training or education?
- 9. Can I force a sale of my spouse’s property to ensure payment of alimony?
- 10. Can my spouse levy my veteran’s benefits for alimony?
- 11. Can I get spousal support in Nevada without a divorce?
- 12. What happens if I fail to make alimony payments in Nevada?
Under NRS 125.150, a court may award spousal support in Nevada to a wife or husband “as appears just and equitable.”1
In deciding whether to award alimony and calculating alimony, the court may consider the following factors:
- The financial condition of each spouse (spouse’s income),
- The nature and value of the respective property of each spouse,
- The contribution of each spouse to the marriage’s community property,
- The duration of the marriage,
- The income, earning capacity, age, and health of each spouse,
- The standard of living to which the spouses were accustomed during the marriage,
- The career, before the marriage, of the spouse receiving alimony,
- Any specialized education or training or marketable skills obtained by either spouse during the marriage,
- The contribution of either spouse as a homemaker,
- Any property granted by the court to each spouse in the divorce,
- The physical and mental condition of each party as it relates to his to her financial condition and ability to work, and
- Any other relevant factors (such as economic need, ability to pay, reasonable expenses, discretionary income, etc.).2
When calculating spousal support in Nevada, some courts use the “Tonopah Formula” – created by the Nevada Bar in 1997 – which takes into account the length of the marriage as well as each spouse’s:
- gross monthly income
- preexisting child support
Factors that courts do not take into account are:
- each spouse’s gender, or
- either spouse’s “bad acts” (unless they had a negative economic impact)
Note that alimony can be temporary or permanent. Temporary alimony typically lasts for a couple of years and is meant to help the receiving spouse transition out of the divorce. Permanent alimony is usually awarded after a long-term marriage where the receiving spouse may be retired or unable to work.
Alimony can also be rehabilitative, which means the money is meant to help the receiving spouse get training or go to school so they can become self-sufficient.
In a divorce, Nevada spousal support can be awarded
- as a one-time lump sum payment or
- in specified periodic payments.
Monthly payments are most common, but a court has the discretion to impose whatever payment schedule appears fair.3
Courts in Nevada can modify alimony orders. Most often this occurs when the paying spouse (“payor”)
- can no longer afford it or
- has a 20% change in their income.4
Modification of a Nevada spousal support award only applies to payments that have not yet accrued. The court will not reduce or cancel past due alimony payments. However, the spouse receiving the alimony may “stipulate” that prior payments have been satisfied.5
The general rule is that you stop getting alimony payments if you remarry.
An exception is if the original alimony award or a prenuptial agreement provides that remarriage does not affect alimony obligations.6
Spousal support payments in Nevada normally cease upon the death of either person. Depending on the case, the paying spouse may assume custody of any minor children unless the court orders otherwise.7
Courts in divorce proceedings will not order alimony if it goes against a valid, enforceable Nevada premarital agreement.8 The prenuptial agreement may be amended or revoked only by a written agreement signed by the parties.9
During a divorce proceeding, a judge may order alimony payments for a temporary period of time. These typically last for only the duration of the divorce proceeding.
Temporary alimony orders the paying spouse to:
- Provide for the short-term maintenance of the other spouse;
- Provide temporary child support for the couple’s children; or
- To enable the other spouse to continue the divorce proceeding10
When determining whether to order temporary spousal support, the court will consider the relative financial situations of the spouses such as gross monthly income, each spouse’s career, etc.11
A Nevada court may award rehabilitative alimony to a spouse for the purpose of obtaining training or education relating to a job, career or profession. Such training may include a
- high school diploma,
- college courses, or
- training in skills desirable for employment.
Factors the court may consider include:
- Whether the spouse who would pay such alimony has obtained greater job skills or education during the marriage; and
- Whether the spouse who would receive such alimony provided financial support while the other spouse obtained job skills or education.12
While divorce actions are proceeding, the court has the right to prevent either party from disposing of any property.13
Once the divorce is final, the court may enforce the judgment by various means, including:
- Appointment of a receiver, or
- The forced sale of any personal or real property – including a spouse’s separate property.14.
Courts cannot normally seize veterans’ federal disability benefits for alimony. They can do so only if a premarital agreement provides otherwise.15
Spouses may obtain child and spousal support in Nevada without a divorce when:
- The spouse has any grounds for divorce, or
- The spouse has been deserted, and the desertion has continued for 90 days.16
While such an action is pending, the court may require either spouse to pay:
- Temporary spousal or child support, and/or
- The costs of maintaining the action for permanent support.17
If a spouse fails to make spousal support payments in Nevada, the other spouse can get a court order.
The court order may call for the seizure and sale of the defaulting spouse’s assets. Such assets can include the defaulting spouse’s
- bank deposits or
- other property.
The defaulting spouse will also be liable for the attorney’s fees of their ex-spouse.18
Defaulting on spousal support is also a crime under NRS 201.020 – Nevada’s law against failing to make alimony payments (NRS 201.020). However, criminal charges are usually not brought if the reason for the failure to pay alimony was the inability to find work. Otherwise:
- If less than $10,000 is owed, failure to pay spousal support is a misdemeanor that can be punished by up to six (6) months in jail.
- If $10,000 or more is owed, failure to pay spousal support is a felony, punishable by up to five (5) years in prison.
Additionally, family court judges may take a conviction into account when determining child custody.
Getting a divorce in Las Vegas? Call us for help…
If you are considering a divorce in Las Vegas, we invite you to call our Nevada alimony lawyers for legal advice.
Whether you are required to pay alimony or entitled to receive alimony depends upon a complex variety of factors. An experienced Las Vegas divorce attorney can help ensure that your alimony arrangement is fair and equitable and that your needs are adequately represented.
Our Las Vegas, NV law firm represents clients throughout the state of Nevada.
See our related article on joint petitions to divorce in Nevada.
- NRS 125.150(1)(a); Shydler v. Shydler, 114 Nev. 192, 954 P.2d 37 (1998)(“Alimony is an equitable award serving to meet the post-divorce needs and rights of the former spouse…It follows from our decisions in this area that two of the primary purposes of alimony, at least in marriages of significant length, are to narrow any large gaps between the post-divorce earning capacities of the parties…and to allow the recipient spouse to live “as nearly as fairly possible to the station in life  enjoyed before the divorce.” Sprenger, 110 Nev. at 860, 878 P.2d at 287-88 (quoting Heim v. Heim, 104 Nev. 605, 612-13, 763 P.2d 678, 683 (1988)). The individual circumstances of each case will determine the appropriate amount and length of any alimony award.”). See also Fondi v. Fondi, 106 Nev. 856, 802 P.2d 1264 (1990).
- NRS 125.150 (9); Sprenger v. Sprenger, 110 Nev. 855, 878 P.2d 284 (1994)(“This court has articulated seven relevant factors in determining the appropriate alimony award in a divorce case: (1) the wife’s career prior to marriage; (2) the length of the marriage; (3) the husband’s education during the marriage; (4) the wife’s marketability; (5) the wife’s ability to support herself; (6) whether the wife stayed home with the children; and (7) the wife’s award, besides child support and alimony.”); Kogod v. Cioffi-Kogod, 439 P.3d 397, 135 Nev. Adv. Rep. 9 (2019)(“When determining if alimony is just and equitable, a district court must consider the eleven factors listed in NRS 125.150(9). See DeVries v. Gallio, 128 Nev. 706, 711-13, 290 P.3d 260, 264-65 (2012). The district court may also consider any other relevant factor, but it must not consider the marital fault or misconduct, or lack thereof; of the spouses…A large gap in income, alone, does not decide alimony. The award must meet the receiving spouse’s economic needs or compensate for economic losses resulting from the marriage and subsequent divorce.”).
- NRS 125.150 (1)(a).
- NRS 125.150 (8); Siragusa v. Siragusa, 108 Nev. 987, 843 P.2d 807 (1992)(“[A] district court may consider a spouse’s discharged property settlement obligation as a “changed circumstance” in ruling upon a motion for modification of alimony. Modification of an alimony award based upon a discharged property settlement obligation does not re-create a debt discharged under federal bankruptcy laws, and therefore the district court in the instant case properly considered Vincent’s discharged property settlement obligation in ruling upon the motion for modification of alimony.”)
- NRS 125.270.
- NRS 125.150 (6).
- NRS 125.210 (5).
- NRS 123A.050 (1)(d).
- NRS 123A.070.
- NRS 125.040 (1).
- NRS 125.040 (2); Gardner v. Gardner, 110 Nev. 1053, 881 P.2d 645 (1994)(“Under Nevada’s current statutory scheme regarding alimony, the legislature has provided for at least two types of alimony. The first, discussed above, is a form of alimony a court may award in order to satisfy the demands of justice and equity. A second type of alimony (rehabilitative alimony) is that provided by the legislature under NRS 125.150(8) which is designed to provide necessary training or education “relating to a job, career or profession.”).
- NRS 125.150 (10).
- NRS 125.220.
- NRS 125.150 (5); NRS 125.240.
- NRS 125.210 (3).
- NRS 125.190.
- NRS 125.200.
- NRS 125.180.