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Is a Joint Petition a Good Option for your Las Vegas Divorce?

Las Vegas Divorce Joint PetitionAs you might know, filing a Joint Petition Divorce is currently the simplest and fastest way to dissolve a marriage in Las Vegas. Actually, all courts in Nevada accept joint petition divorce filings, so they’re not just for a Las Vegas divorce.

That said, filing a joint petition divorce requires the participation of both parties which is why we sometimes refer to it as a two-signature divorce.  Note that if your situation is highly acrimonious and you fear harm from your soon-to-be ex-spouse, this article isn’t for you. Protect yourself first and foremost. In this case, a one-signature divorce is the best option for you.

If there are no children, no debt, and no property, and even if there are, a joint petition is the simplest, and least costly, way to obtain a divorce in Las Vegas, provided both parties are willing to sign the divorce papers.

If children, property (this can be anything from a house to a couch or television for divorce purposes) or debt are involved, obviously an agreement on issues such as child support, child visitation, physical custody, and property and debt division will be required before you get started.

Before you make the above decisions, a little research would go a long way towards avoiding arguments.  For instance, in Nevada, child support is pretty much set in stone, so you can just look up the child support guidelines and follow them. The guidelines also contain allowed deviations.

This being a community property state, as far as property and debt division is concerned, you’d expect it to be a 50/50 split between the parties. However, this isn’t always the case; there are many exceptions. For instance, a vehicle or a house owned by only one of the parties before the marriage is likely to be awarded to that party were you to go into a divorce trial.  Many things are considered, such as investment of the community property funds (when both parties share a checking or savings account and those funds are used for home improvement or paying the mortgage, for instance).  If one of the parties owned a house before the marriage, the other party would only be entitled to half of any increase in equity from the time of the marriage.

If you feel that a Joint Petition divorce is a good option for your but feel uncertain about how to divide your debts and property, or if you have children with your spouse and want to know what’s appropriate as far as child support and visitation, consider Collaborative Divorce.  This is a good option for longer term marriages, especially when the parties have many assets and, or,  retirement benefits come into play. Some attorneys’ offices, like ours, offer divorce mediation services (collaborative divorce by a different name) in preparation for doing a Joint Petition divorce.  Generally speaking, during mediation , the parties find out what they’re likely to be granted if they ended up in a divorce trial.  Find out more about it here, Collaborative Divorce in Nevada

Bottom line is that when filing for a divorce in Las Vegas, a joint petition, except in a few situations, is the best option for everyone involved. You save time and money and the even bigger heartache of divorce court.

Author: Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about_nevada_divorce.htm

5 Most Asked Questions About Filing a Divorce or Annulment in Nevada

5 Most Asked Questions About Filing a Divorce or AnnulmentIn our busy family law office, there are certain questions that, regardless of their situation, ALL clients ask us during their first conversation with us.  Here are the 5 Most Asked Questions About Filing a Divorce or Annulment in Nevada –  questions we hear every day. And, more importantly, the answers.

1.  Am I eligible to file in Nevada?
Divorce: To be eligible to file a divorce in Nevada, you must have lived in Nevada for a minimum of six weeks before filing. The court will require proof of your residency in the form of an affidavit by another Nevada resident. This affidavit will state that you have lived in Nevada for a minimum of six weeks before filing your divorce action and that you have the intent to remain in Nevada.

Annulment: If you were married in Nevada, there is no residency requirement for filing an annulment here. If you were married outside Nevada, the same residency rule for filing a divorce applies to an annulment.

2. I’ve never done this before. What kind of divorce (annulment) do I need to file?
In a divorce, if your spouse and you agree on all the issues, and your spouse is willing to sign divorce papers, you’ll want to file a Joint Petition Divorce. If your spouse does not agree to sign the papers,  you’ll want to file a Complaint for Divorce (which requires only your signature to file). Click here to read the procedure to follow in detail if your spouse won’t sign divorce papers.

For an annulment, when both parties sign, the annulment case is either filed as a Joint Petition for Annulment or as a Complaint/Answer. Which of these you can file depends on the valid reason for your annulment (we can help with that). When only one party signs, a Complaint for Annulment is filed followed by process service. Click here for details on filing an annulment when your spouse won’t sign the papers.

3. What if I can’t find my spouse?
For either an annulment or a divorce, we file your case, get a Summons issued and then procedure requires us to do what’s called a “skip-trace” based on your spouse’s last-known address in an attempt to find him or her. If the process server is able to find your spouse based on the skip-trace search, the process server will attempt to serve the Complaint for Divorce and the Summons on your spouse.
If the process server is unable to find your spouse, he or she will provide us with an Affidavit of Due Diligence, which must be filed before the judge will sign an Order to Publish. The Summons will be published once a week for five weeks as per court requirement.

In both above instances, the Defendant has 21 days to file an Answer and Counterclaim at court after he or she has been served, either personally, or through the process of publication. If, after being served, the Defendant does not respond by filing an Answer and Counterclaim, a Default will be requested and once granted, the final decree submitted for the judge’s signature.

4. How much does it cost?
Uncontested Divorce:

  •  If both parties sign the divorce documents, the attorney fee ranges from $350-$425 (plus court costs).
  • If only one of the parties to the divorce signs the documents, the attorney fee is $650, provided the Defendant does not contest the divorce (plus court costs). If only one party signs, the other party will have to be served with the Complaint and Summons; the cost of the process server varies.

Uncontested Annulment:

  • If both parties sign, the attorney fee is $499, plus court costs.
  • If only one party signs, the attorney fee is $799. Court costs and process service costs are separate.

We add up the attorney fee and the court costs and divide the total into two equal payments. The process server fees are collected approximately 10 days after filing, right after the Summons has been issued by the Court.

5.  How long will my divorce or annulment take?

Whether it’s a divorce or annulment, if both parties sign the papers, it takes 1-2 weeks, at the most 3 weeks (if the court is very busy) for the judge to sign the final decree of divorce  or final decree of annulment, after which the decree is filed with the court clerk, the last required step to finalize your divorce or annulment.

If your spouse did not sign the documents, it will take approximately 6-10 weeks to finalize your case if your spouse can be served personally, and approximately 16-20 weeks (sometimes longer) if publication must take place.

We hope we’ve answered these 5 most asked questions about filing a divorce or annulment in Nevada in a way you understand. If not, feel free to contact us for clarification.

Conexa Nevada Divorce provides attorney representation at paralegal prices and we are happy to answer any of your questions, whether it’s about filing divorce papers in Las Vegas, Nevada or getting an annulment in Las Vegas, Nevada or both.

Author: Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about_nevada_divorce.htm

What if my Spouse Won’t Sign the Papers?

This is a question we get asked so often from both annulment and divorce clients that we decided to address it in more depth here.

First off, whether you are filing an annulment or a divorce, it is always less expensive and faster  to have it granted if your spouse signs the papers. This is because, if your spouse won’t sign, Nevada law requires that your spouse be served with the Complaint for Divorce (or Complaint for Annulment), and then be given 21 days after the date of service (consecutive calendar days and not business days) to respond to the complaint.

Please note, that if you are in a domestic violence situation, it would be far better to have the Defendant served rather than face a violent situation when you ask your spouse to sign the papers.

If you have no idea where your spouse resides and a skip-trace does not turn up a current address for him or her, then permission from the judge may be obtained to publish the Summons as a way to notify the Defendant of the annulment or divorce action.   Publication of the Summons takes place once a week for five weeks (when filed in Nevada).  And just as in when the Defendant is served personally, there is a 21-day waiting period after the last date of publication to give the Defendant an opportunity to respond.

If the Defendant does not respond, we can now submit a Default to the court.  A Default essentially means that the Defendant does not object to the divorce or annulment because he or she did not respond.  A Default is granted by the court with proof of service, either personal or by publication.

To properly respond to a Complaint for Divorce (or Complaint for Annulment) the Defendant must file an Answer and CounterClaim with the Family Court where the case was filed, and must do so no later than 21 days after he or she was served with the Complaint.

Should your spouse actually file an Answer and CounterClaim after he or she has been served, your divorce or annulment is now considered a contested matter.

If your spouse contests, the first thing the court does is set a Case Management Conference, which is essentially forced mediation. We are strong advocates of mediation as it avoids much anxiety for the parties as well as save them a lot of money. Our philosophy is,  if you can’t come to an agreement on your own,  why not enter into mediation before filing and therefore avoid high attorney fees for both sides (minimum of $2500-$5000 for each party in most cases) just to end up in mediation anyway?

The actual Case Management Conference takes place at court. Both Plaintiff and Defendant and their attorneys are expected to appear. The goal of the Case Management Conference is to come up with an agreement that will avoid a costly trial.  If no agreement can be arrived at, the court will set a date for trial and the judge will decide on the matters of property and, or, debt, division as well as on the matters of child support, custody and visitation if you have children.

If you need help with your Nevada divorce, click here.
We can answer questions and help you with a  contested Nevada divorce.

 

5 Tips on How to Cope with Divorce During the Holidays

5 Tips on How to Cope with Divorce During the Holidays

divorce during the holiday

Holiday Time and Divorce

In our busy law office, clients who come to us in December always seem a bit more distressed or upset than at other times of the year. We understand. They are going through one of the most difficult and stressful period of their lives at a time of year where everyone is expected to give more, love more, and forgive more. They feel confused and wonder how to find it within themselves to do all of that in the face of a divorce during the holidays. If children are involved, this time period becomes even more difficult and emotional to navigate.

No doubt you need a plan.

One thing to remember is that oftentimes, our emotional state is attached to familiar actions and surroundings. So, the very first thing to do is to change those. 

1.  If possible, take yourself out of your usual holiday surroundings. Visit out-of-state family, for instance. If this is not possible…

2.  Start a new tradition, on your own or with your children if you have them, rather than continue with the ones you followed with your spouse. This will keep you focused on the positive and new rather than distressing over going through a divorce during the holidays. For the kids, it could be fun and take their minds off what’s now different, namely, that for the first time in their lives, they are only with one parent at a time for this year’s holiday.

Tom had always wanted to take the kids ice-skating around the holidays, but his  soon-to-be ex-wife didn’t like it at all, so they never went. He decided to now make it a holiday tradition to spend an afternoon at the ice skating rink with the kids and then take them out for hot chocolate after. It turned out to be a hit with them and gave everyone hope that the holidays could still be a happy time for them despite the divorce.

  1. If you are single, or if your children will be with your ex on the holiday itself, plan ahead of time to do something to help others. It’s a well-known fact that helping others lifts us in turn. Volunteering your time to a shelter on that day, for instance, would take your mind off your own suffering and warm your heart as you help others even less fortunate than you. Or find other single parents whose children will be with their other parent that day and celebrate together, doing something none of you usually does on that day.

Karin reached out to two other friends whose children were going to be with their other parent for the last day of Hanukkah. She arranged ahead of time for them to visit residents of a nursing home who didn’t get visitors or whose families were out of state. They bought several low-cost gifts and wrapped them brightly and delivered them to these residents with good wishes, bringing tears of joy to the eyes of some of them. This made the women feel very happy inside and thankful for the happiness they still had in their own lives. They followed this up with a special dinner at a restaurant  none of them had ever visited.  They vowed to do it again the next time their children were with their other parent for a holiday.

  1. No matter what, make sure that your children feel  loved by both parents during this time.  Make sure they don’t feel pulled between you and made to feel guilty for being with one or the other parent on any given special day. If you are still working out the holiday visitation schedule, be sure that the children have ample time with each parent and vary it up, from year to year if the children have to travel some distance between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

If a certain holiday is very important to both you and your spouse, make it so that you both get the children for a portion of that, but be sure and do it in a way that is enjoyable to the children too. If you live far apart, it would most likely be best to agree to an alternate-year holiday visitation schedule.

Robert and Diane, who live 500 miles apart, agreed that their two children should spend all of the holidays with one another at least until their late teens, and made it so that the children spent the Christmas holiday with Diane during odd years and with Robert during even years.

Having to fly or take a bus to get from one parent to another on a holiday to meet a visitation schedule would most likely make your child dread that holiday rather than look forward to it.

  1. Lastly, but most importantly is, do NOT become a recluse. Even if you’d rather  pull a double shift at work, or stick your hand in fire,  force yourself to go out and mingle with good friends or family (stay away from those who constantly bring up negative things about your ex or ask them to stop). Your spirits will lift from your new activities! We are social creatures and even when feeling low, we derive happiness and comfort from being around others.

If you would like to hire a Las Vegas divorce attorney firm that will make divorce easier on you, please visit our website.  We won’t empty your bank account either.

Here are some books that will help you create new holiday traditions and give you ideas on how to make the season filled with cheer despite this trying time. And some are simply packed with great ideas on how to move beyond and rebuild a successful life post-divorce.

 

      

Author: Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about_nevada_divorce.htm

What do Facebook and Twitter have in Common with your Divorce?

What do Facebook and Twitter have in Common with your Divorce?

wife catches husband's compromising facebook postsYes. It’s come to that. Postings on social media have found their way into divorce court. For instance, in 2011, according to a survey conducted by divorce-online, the word “Facebook” was found in one-third of divorce filings in 2011. One-third!

In our own attorney office, clients often mention that they discovered misrepresentation on the part of their spouse, or discovered that their spouse was cheating, by scrolling Facebook posts. We have used such postings as evidence in annulment filings with much success to disprove a Defendant.

Facebook has also been used to disprove a spouse who files a change in circumstances in an attempt to lower alimony or child support payments. Jeff (not his real name) tried to reduce his alimony and child support payments by filing a change in circumstance but Jane (his wife) found photos of him on a recent vacation in Hawai’i with his new love interest, along with posts talking about all the great places they visited and the great restaurants they ate at while in Hawai’i . It was difficult for Jeff to support his claim of new poverty when the photos and posts were disclosed to the court. In fact, impossible. He lost.

It’s definitely something to pay attention to: according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, more than 80 percent of U.S. divorce attorneys say social networking in divorce proceedings is on the rise.

Are you in, or about to embark upon, a potentially contested divorce or annulment? Do the following:

  • Delete any compromising posts on Facebook. A photo of you at a once-a-year office party holding a cocktail and looking a little tipsy, and with a long list of “funny” comments from friends just below it, could turn into “s/he gets drunk all the time.”
  • Have you been sending flirty texts, even just in fun to friends of the opposite sex? Delete!
  • What have you been tweeting?
  • Go through all and any photo albums you have online and delete any compromising-looking photos. Are you hugging so-and-so real tight? You might think, oh that’s just my platonic friend Paul/a, that one’s okay. No, not okay. Delete
  • Go through all Facebook albums, photobucket, Instagram, just anywhere at all you have posted photos of yourself and look at them as if you were a judge in a divorce trial looking at the photos. What would you think?
  • Go through your friends’ timelines too and ask them to delete any compromising posts about you.
  • Go through your phone, and delete, delete, delete, any conversations except the most innocuous ones. Clients tell us every day how they got into their spouse’s phone and printed compromising texts…which we have used as evidence.

So, to reiterate, just go through each and every place you’ve ever posted anything online, go through your Facebook friends’ timelines. Bottom line is, DELETE anything and everything that could possibly be misconstrued. Sure, you could possibly discredit it later, but at what financial and emotional cost? One of the first things we tell a client about to embark upon a possibly contested divorce or annulment is, delete, delete, and delete, anything and everything with even just the slightest chance of being considered controversial. Did I mention DELETE?

If you want more divorce advice, or help getting a low cost divorce in Las Vegas, Nevada with quality legal representation, go to our Nevada divorce website.

Author: Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about_nevada_divorce.htm

 

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