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. However, if your spouse refuses to sign, or you cannot find him or her, here’s how to file a one-signature divorce in Nevada.
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) to respond to the complaint. To make it simpler, the rest of this article will mostly refer to “complaint” rather than repeating Complaint for Divorce or Complaint for Annulment over and over.
When you serve the Complaint for Divorce, be sure to also serve a Joint Preliminary Injunction to keep the Defendant from cleaning out your joint bank accounts or transferring anything you own jointly into his or her name only.
Also, if you are in need of temporary child support or spousal support, or want exclusive use of the family home for the duration of the divorce, you should file a Motion for temporary support which will be heard by the judge sooner than any possible divorce trial.
If you have no idea where your spouse resides, you might want to consider hiring an investigator before filing your divorce so that the 120-day deadline on filing the Affidavit of Service doesn’t elapse while you are attempting to find him or her.
If a skip-trace does not turn up the whereabouts of your spouse, publication of the Summons must take place. This requires that the Summons be published 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 before the Default can be submitted to the court.
A Default essentially means that the Defendant does not object to the divorce or annulment. A Default is granted by the court with proof of service, either personal or by publication.
To properly respond to a complaint the Defendant must file an Answer and Counterclaim with the Family Court where your case was filed, and must do so no later than 21 days after he or she was served with 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.
Should your spouse file an Answer and Counterclaim after he or she has been served, your divorce or annulment will be 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?
For details or to start the process of filing a Complaint for divorce, visit this page: http://nevadadivorce.org/one_signature_divorce_complaint.html