As you know, you have every right to represent yourself in any court of law, including Family Court, where divorces are typically filed. What some forget or don’t even realize at the outset, however, is that if you choose to represent yourself, the Court expects you to follow the same court rules and procedures that an attorney follows. In other words, the court expects you to know what you’re doing. The court clerk will not tell you what must be filed and when. You’re on your own.
Should you handle your own divorce?
It’s a question that plagues many potential pro se (filing a legal matter on one’s own behalf) divorce litigants – should I file my own divorce? It sounds enticing and sounds like you could save money. After all, divorce forms can be obtained from the court and the Internet has many offers from typing services who type up divorce documents for a fee. And they make it sound easy.
As you contemplate handling your own divorce, keep the following in mind:
1) If you are contemplating filing your own divorce, it’s most likely because you think you will save money. In fact, what often occurs instead, is expensive post-divorce litigation and motions which end up costing you more money than if you had retained an attorney in the first place. It is a known fact that because of bad drafting of the language in the final decree of divorce, many people end up coming back to court to fix things.
2) You might decide to file on your own and then retain an attorney only if you run into problems. This never saves you money. In fact, attorneys typically charge either the same to take over an in-progress case as if handling the case from the beginning, or charge more because it’s often more work to review everything and fix what’s wrong than to do it right from the beginning.
3) You are only doing your divorce once whereas an experienced attorney has done divorces hundreds of times. Understanding “legalese” language, anticipating problems and taking care of them before they occur as well as making sure your rights and obligations are safeguarded can better be done by an objective professional than by you caught in the midst of an emotionally-charged situation.
4) Understanding civil procedure, local rules of the court, and rules of evidence are difficult and the Judges are not allowed to give any slack to people representing themselves. Also, the law clerks and court clerks are prohibited from giving legal advice which makes it difficult for someone representing themselves, not trained in the law, to process a case from start to finish without encountering obstacles along the way.
5) You can buy your divorce forms online, however, because those are generally prepared by document-typing companies who don’t keep up with local laws that closely, they are often rejected by the court. Once you finally have the completed documents in hand, there is still the court process to contend with. If the documents were improperly prepared, the court will reject them and mail them back to you. You could be going along thinking that all is fine and weeks later get a fat envelope from the court containing all of your rejected documents. And you have to start all over. Sure, the company will fix the documents if they are rejected, but you are the one who has to handle all the logistics of that and the one who has to return to court to file them again, the one who has to wait again to see if the new documents will be accepted or rejected.
Do you have the kind of time and patience to deal with the above when filing your own divorce? Are you able to take the time off work to deal with it properly? If you answered “no,” to even just one of these questions, you really need to re-consider whether filing on your own is the right solution for you.
- How much time do you estimate filing your own divorce will take you?
- How much do you make per hour now?
If you have never filed a divorce before, have never dealt with Family Court and know nothing about it, it is estimated that you will spend approximately 40 hours handling the entire process, provided there are no errors made and you only need to go to the courthouse once to file your documents. If you have to go back to court because of errors in the final Decree of Divorce, there is no telling how much more time you will have to spend on fixing these errors.
Only you can answer the question “is it worth filing my divorce on my own?”
If you have questions about obtaining a Nevada divorce you can contact us.
Author: Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about
What is an annulment and how does it differ from a divorce? In simple terms, the granting of an annulment renders a marriage null and void and of no legal consequence to the parties.
In many states, such as in Nevada, marriages are void ab initio, meaning from the very beginning of the marriage, so from a legal standpoint, it’s as if the parties had never married in the first place.
In some states, marriages are annulled from the time of the granting of the decree of annulment instead of from the beginning of the marriage. This is especially true when there are issues such as community property, debt, children alimony, tax or retirement issues which may cause complications or prejudice. In such cases, judges, even in Nevada, might be inclined to grant an annulment as of the time of the Decree.
Nevadadivorce.org can help you get both an annulment or a divorce, depending on what you need.
Granting an annulment from the time of the decree instead of from the beginning of the marriage recognizes a legal relationship between the parties for the duration of the marriage, just as in a divorce.
Some marriages are automatically null and void – such as when one of the parties was already married to someone else at the time of the marriage being annulled – however, an annulment must still be filed to legally establish the fact that the marriage was null and void. Otherwise, it’s just say so and it will regarded as a bigamous marriage.
Some religious bodies, such as the Catholic Church, do not recognize a civil annulment, so the parties must still go through the process of annulling their marriage through their church if they wish to remarry in the Church. For instance, catholic annulments follow Cannon Law and not Civil Law. A marriage obtained through a church, such as the Catholic Church must still be legally dissolved through a civil annulment or a divorce.
If you need a divorce or more information about obtaining a Nevada divorce please go here: http://nevadadivorce.org
If you need an annulment or more information about obtaining an annulment in Nevada please go here: http://nevadaannulment.org.
Author: Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about_nevada_divorce.htm
There is no substitute for experience when it comes to your Nevada divorce attorney. However, retaining an attorney is a very personal thing. This individual could end up knowing the most private things about you, so you want someone with lots of integrity and experience, but also with other attributes. Ask the attorney or the attorney’s staff the following questions:
1. How many cases of my type has the attorney handled?
You want an attorney who has represented clients in many cases exactly like, or very similar to, your own. In other words, you don’t really want your attorney to be learning as he or she handles your case. If you are paying by the hour, for one, it would end up cost you more, and for another, a non-experienced Nevada divorce attorney could miss things that a more experienced one will spot.
2. How well does your attorney and the attorney’s staff communicate with you?
A good Nevada divorce lawyer knows how to communicate. Does the attorney and his staff write well? Are you easily able to understand what they say in emails or other written communication with you? Chances are that this same style will be used in documents filed with the Nevada Divorce Court so pay attention to this.
3. Are you comfortable in your dealings with the attorney and his or her staff?
A good Nevada divorce attorney for you is one with whom you are comfortable. Does the attorney or the attorney’s staff, make you feel ill at ease? Do you feel like you’re not much of a priority when you interact with them? With the next chapter of your life at stake, you don’t have time to deal with additional emotional clutter brought on by feelings of lack of trust or insecurity when you deal with the attorney and the legal staff.
4. Can you ask and get a flat fee if your case is uncontested?
Some lawyers will charge a flat fee, based on certain tasks and court filings typically expected for an uncontested divorce. You should ask for this if your spouse is not contesting your divorce. If you have a contested matter, ask how much the retainer is, but also ask if there is a difference between the hourly fee charged against the retainer when the attorney is working on your case outside court, and when the attorney is in court on your behalf. Ask for an estimated fee for the whole case, based on similar previous cases. Are there any refunds ever? Is there a payment plan available? How are payments broken down?
5. Does the attorney have personal experience with the family law arena?
Has the attorney been married and, or, divorced? Does the attorney have children? Lawyers are human beings too, breathing and bleeding like everyone else. A divorce lawyer with personal experience in the family law arena is likely to have more empathy for you than an attorney who has never experienced a divorce.
6. Should you retain a male or female lawyer?
A man or a woman lawyer does not make a difference. A good lawyer can represent either gender. Men’s attorneys or women’s attorneys tend to use this as a marketing gimmick more than actually doing a more effective job for their male or female clients. Ask whether the attorney is comfortable representing a man (or woman)? Ask if he or she can refer you to a good lawyer who is a man (woman)?
7. In a contested divorce, you should ask if the attorney is friends with your spouse’s attorney.
This isn’t supposed to matter, but you will most likely feel more comfortable knowing that your attorney and your spouse’s attorney don’t hang out together socially. In all likelihood, it wouldn’t affect your case, as attorneys are bound to represent you to the best of their ability and besides, the competitive instinct is sure to kick in when faced with an attorney friend in the courtroom, however, you might always wonder if the friendship had something to do with it if things don’t go your way completely. Yet one more additional thing you do not need on your emotional plate during your divorce.
8. Can your Nevada divorce attorney ethically represent both you and your spouse?
An attorney can represent both parties in a joint petition divorce. Should something happen along the way and one or the other of you decide to no longer pursue a joint petition divorce, the attorney cannot ethically continue to represent either of you in a one-signature divorce if he or she has had direct contact with both spouses. If the attorney and the staff have only been in contact with you alone, then in certain cases, this same attorney can continue to represent you only in a one-signature divorce.
9. How aggressive is the attorney?
A skilled Nevada divorce attorney, one who knows how to negotiate and mediate is often better than an aggressive trial lawyer. So, ask the attorney if he or she tries the negotiation route before aggressively attacking the other side, which only makes them want to become much more aggressive in return. Also, when you mediate, you come out of the divorce feeling less acrimonious towards your spouse and usually with more money left in your pocket.
All in all, just ask as many questions as come to mind and do follow your instincts. Don’t hire an attorney who makes you feel uncomfortable just because you heard that he or she is a really good attorney. You want experience and talent, yes, but if you feel uncomfortable sharing your situation with the attorney, it will make an unpleasant situation (getting a divorce) worse; at the least, you should feel better having the attorney you retain on your side.
Author: Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about_nevada_divorce.htm
You live in Nevada, and you’re about to get a divorce. You’ve been married a few years and your spouse earns somewhat less than you, or stayed at home to raise your children or because you didn’t need two incomes.
Now that you are getting a divorce, you wonder if you’ll have to pay spousal support or alimony. And for the sake of clarification, know that spousal support is what is paid before the divorce is granted (usually ordered as part of a legal separation settlement), and alimony is what is paid after the divorce.
In Nevada, the statutes list only things a judge will take under consideration when deciding whether or not to grant spousal support or alimony. There is no actual, “set in stone” table to follow based on income like we find for child support.
Below is a partial list of things the judge will look at when deciding whether or not to grant support or alimony. Each and every situation is different, so some of these may or may not matter, and other things in addition, or instead of, these might come into play:
- The financial condition of each spouse
- The nature and value of the respective property of each spouse
- The contribution of each spouse to any property held by the spouses pursuant to NRS 123.030
- The duration of the marriage
- The income, earning capacity, age and health of each spouse
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The career before the marriage of the spouse who would receive the alimony
- The existence of specialized education or training or the level of marketable skills attained by each spouse during the marriage
- The contribution of either spouse as homemaker
- The physical and mental condition of each party as it relates to the financial condition, health and ability to work of that spouse
In some cases, in lieu of, or in addition to, the Nevada court might grant alimony or support to a spouse for the purpose of obtaining training or education in order to attain new employment, or better employment.
- Whether the spouse who would pay such alimony has obtained greater job skills or education during the marriage
- Whether the spouse who would receive such alimony provided financial support while the other spouse obtained job skills or education
- Whether the spouse who would receive alimony would be in severe financial straits after the divorce without further job training
Should alimony be granted for the purposes of education or training, more often than not, the judge will also order that the spouse getting the alimony start the training within a specified amount of time after the granting of the alimony. And more often than not, there is a reasonable time limit placed on it, usually for the length of time it takes the spouse to train or retrain.
Author: Nevada Divorce Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about_nevada_divorce.htm
A collaborative divorce entails the divorcing couple meeting with a licensed mediator (oftentimes a divorce attorney) in order to fairly divide property, as well as to decide issues of child custody, visitation, and child support. This type of divorce is also known as a Mediated Divorce.
A mediator is obligated to keep a neutral position by only talking to both parties at the same time, all the time, except perhaps when scheduling a mediation session. This way, you can feel confident that you know everything being addressed and that you didn’t miss out on something the mediator might have told your spouse.
Discussing issues of child visitation, physical custody, and child support often proves difficult for couples about to divorce. Having an experienced, licensed, third party present (the mediator) to guide the discussions and to answer questions about divorce laws and what is customary in a Nevada Family court goes a long way in helping keep things civil and fair throughout the divorce process.
Other issues usually addressed during mediation are property and debt division, as well retirement accounts, if any, which come into play for longer-term marriages. The idea here is to come out of the mediation (and ultimately the divorce) feeling that the community property and debts (and retirement money) were divided fairly between you and your spouse based on your particular circumstances, rather than having it awarded to you in a manner you feel is unfair by a divorce trial judge who knows nothing of your personal circumstances.
You could say that the goal of a collaborative or mediated divorce is to defuse the acrimony that often enters divorce negotiations – without mediation, a tense situation holds potential for a much worse outcome than necessary for all involved: you, your spouse, and your children.
Though this should be the least thing you consider when you make important decisions during your divorce, you do save a lot of money, compared to a divorce trial, when you choose to collaborate your divorce. No one benefits from paying exorbitant attorney fees for a divorce trial (except the attorneys).
So, if you have children with the spouse you are divorcing and you own property and debts together, and cannot agree on your own on how to divide everything, or you simply feel unsure of what is fair, give serious consideration to using the services of a mediator before moving forward with your divorce in Nevada (or in the state in which you reside).
In a large majority of the collaborative divorces this office has facilitated, all issues get resolved in just one session, and represents large savings to the divorcing couple.
Bottom line is that a collaborative divorce allows the couple to divorce with as little friction as possible and go on with their lives with little to no hard feelings toward one another (especially important if you are still raising children together).
Visit our collaborative divorce in Nevada page for more details on collaborative divorce.
Author: Attorney James E. Smith — http://nevadadivorce.org/about_nevada_divorce.htm