Contrary to popular belief spousal support and alimony are alive and well in Nevada.
Spousal support is financial support given by one spouse to the other while the parties are still married, before a divorce, usually as part of a separate maintenance action (a.ka. legal separation).
Alimony is financial support given by one spouse to the other spouse after a divorce. Alimony payments are deductible to the payor and considered income to the payee by the IRS.
Alimony is separate from any property settlement. Since women have entered the workforce, alimony isn’t granted to them as often as it was in the past when a large number of women were stay-at-home moms or homemakers.
But, again, each situation is different. Even if a woman is employed, she might be entitled to some alimony for a period of time if her income is well below that of her spouse, or if she needs to study to get a degree or training of some sort to be able to support herself. This can go both ways. If Wife has been making considerably more money than Husband, she might have to pay him spousal support, or alimony.
If the marriage was short-term, but a spouse will suffer unduly because of a big difference in income between the parties, a judge might well grant short-term alimony to allow that spouse time to figure out how to increase his or her income.
If one of the spouses needs to be trained, or retrained, in a career, rehabilitative alimony might be granted. If you have to pay this, it would be wise to set a termination date on it to keep the party receiving the rehabilitative alimony from stretching the training for longer than necessary.
WHEN DOES A JUDGE CONSIDER GRANTING ALIMONY?
when there is a disparity in income between the parties
when the couple has been married or in a domestic partnership for a long period of time
when a spouse needs financial support because of a health issue
when a spouse needs retraining to get back into the workforce
Other considerations under NRS 125.150 (Nevada law on alimony) include:
the standard of living to which the couple was accustomed
the career of both spouses before the marriage
whether one spouse has advanced the other spouse’s career
age and education of the parties
the ability to pay of the spouse who will be paying alimony
Note that Nevada is a “no fault” state, so bad acts (such as cheating on a spouse) that do not cause economic harm or “community waste” are not grounds for temporary spousal support or alimony. If you need support right away when you file for divorce, you can file a motion with Family Court for temporary spousal support. This will get you a hearing in front of the judge sooner.
In Nevada, a judge has a lot of discretion in deciding whether to grant alimony or not, as well as how much and for how long:
If it’s a marriage of less than 3 years, alimony is unlikely though not impossible.
If the marriage is from 3 to 20 years, alimony could be granted for as many years as half of the length of the marriage, e.g, if married for 10 years, alimony is paid for five years.
If the marriage was longer than 20 years then permanent alimony is highly possible, and even likely.
By law (in Nevada), alimony stops when the spouse receiving alimony either passes away or remarries.
You can modify alimony if there is an increase or decrease of 20% of more in the paying party’s income. This is considered a change of circumstances. However, the Court will look to see if the payor is under-employing or un-employing himself to avoid paying an amount he or she does not wish to pay. A motion for change must be made in good faith, such as a lack of employment opportunities or a change in health making it impossible to continue paying the same amount due to loss of income because of it. A request to modify alimony must be made in good faith.
Parties also have the option to stipulate to non-modifiable alimony which would preclude a modification motion. An option to monthly alimony payments is a lump sum non-modifiable alimony. In fact, with much older couples the Court will often consider lump sum alimony instead of periodic payments simply to avoid the payee becoming suddenly destitute because of the untimely death of the payor.
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Gwyneth Paltrow certainly got tongues wagging with her way of handling, and looking at, the dissolution of her marriage to Chris Martin. Perhaps in the future couples will say that they are uncoupling rather than divorcing. The more enlightened ones might even say that they’re undergoing a “conscious uncoupling” as Ms. Paltrow said. With people living longer than ever, and our world advancing at an unprecedented pace, marriage might one day not be expected to last forever. This is merely an exploration of what might be and not said to offend those who still believe that couples should mate for life.
No matter what you choose to call it, if you married legally and no longer want the relationship, it all boils down to divorcing, albeit if done consciously, it will be without fighting, without “punishing” your soon-to-be-ex by manipulating community funds, or taking all the money out of mutual accounts, without using the kids to fight battles, without bashing your spouse to anyone who will listen. You could say that conscious uncoupling is a collaborative divorce, albeit one on steroids, since the premise behind conscious uncoupling includes nurturing the spiritual aspect of divorce.
If you think about it, divorce involves moving forward and changing for both parties, for the children too, even. Moving forward in life and changing is essentially personal growth. Furthermore, personal growth and spirituality go hand in hand. When you make personal growth a priority in your life, you become spiritual; when you make spirituality a priority, in time you grow into your best self. The best way to keep a divorce civil, to remain conscious during the split, is to divorce in a non-combative, collaborative way. What’s the best way to do so?
Resign yourself to biting your tongue a lot throughout the process, for one. In other words, commit to remaining civil with your spouse at all times. During negotiations over how to split the bills and any money you both have a right to, commit to not blurting out what he or she did that might have brought on the divorce, such as cheating, or not helping carry the load, or allowing the kids to eat Cheetos for breakfast in front of the T.V. It has nothing to do with property and debt division. Same with going off about money in the middle of a conversation to decide physical custody and visitation. Be open-minded when discussing physical custody and visitation with the children. That other person is still their parent, just like you. Also, arrangements about the children that work for John and Mary may not be the best thing for your family. Think. What’s right for your particular situation? Don’t just mimic what other people are doing. Both parents should spend a few days going over in their own mind how it might best be handled and then, if not able to share it with each other in person because you fear you’ll fight about it, do it by email until you can come up with a plan that works best for the children to continue thriving between your two households. Be careful and conscious before you click Send. Do the same when deciding how you’ll split property and debts and any retirement accounts.
Lastly, agree to disagree civilly on the things there is no way you’ll ever agree on—these things are most likely the reasons for your divorce. People do keep growing as individuals and sometimes, unfortunately, you grow at a different rate, or in a different direction from your spouse. If you aim to be a conscious, spiritual person, or just someone who wants the best for your children, someone who wants to respect the love you once had for the person you are now divorcing, you will aim for a conscious uncoupling.
If you feel you might have difficulty negotiating directly with your spouse, especially if you have children and property to divide, you might consider a mediation session with a qualified divorce mediator, many of whom are family law attorneys. A divorce with terms arrived at with the help of a licensed, professional mediator is known as a Collaborative Divorce, or Mediated Divorce. We explain this in detail here.
In a large majority of divorce mediation cases that come through our office, just an hour or two resolves all issues. Besides feeling good about your conscious uncoupling, the glicken is that you stand to save thousands of dollars in attorney fees.
In 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes. 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.