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Alimony 101 for Nevada

alimony_spousal_support

Contrary to popular belief spousal support and alimony are alive and well in Nevada and might well be granted in a divorce.

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 the advent of women in the work force, alimony isn’t granted as often as it was in divorces in the past when a lot of women were stay-at-home moms or homemakers.

However, under the following conditions, a judge will still consider 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 work force

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 spousal support right away when you file for divorce, you must file a motion 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.

Alimony ceases by operation of law on death or remarriage of the spouse receiving alimony. Alimony can be modified if there is an increase or decrease of 20% of more in the paying party’s income.  This is a change of circumstances. However, the Court will look to see if the payor is underemploying or unemploying himself to make sure that the modification motion is 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.

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

Thinking of hiring a typing service or independent paralegal for your divorce?

paralegalBecause of a new law in Nevada, paralegals and legal document typists now have to act only as scriveners and cannot give any sort of advice or guidance to their clients. They are also more closely regulated by both the Secretary Of State and the Nevada State Bar. Paralegals who are non-attorney supervised can only assist the public through entities called Document Preparation Services.  All paralegals are required to be registered with the State of Nevada, exemptions limited to employees of lawyers and certain nonprofit entities.

Under the new law (NRS 240A), a Document Preparation Service (DPS) must register with the Secretary Of State, be issued a unique registration number, and post a $50,000 bond to protect the public against fraud and/or incompetence, all before they can do business in Nevada. The law makes clear a distinction between document preparation services and the practice of law. The Nevada Bar has authority to charge the DPS with the unauthorized practice of law and subject the DPS provider to misdemeanor charges as well as cease and desist orders.

This new law regulates what a DPS can and cannot do. One of the things they are forbidden to do is give legal advice.

What you need to know if you plan to file your own case at court and have the documents typed by a paralegal or typing service instead of being represented by an attorney:

  • Paralegals who own and, or, operate, a DPS would be advised to have their clients consult with a lawyer first so that the client is not only properly advised, but also understands clearly which forms to ask the DPS to type.
  • Only after that consultation with the attorney can the DPS type up, as a scrivener, whatever legal documents have been advised by the lawyer should be filed for a specific type of case.
  • This new law does not permit a paralegal or typing service to advise a client of a mistake they might be making when requesting that any certain document be typed up and filed. Should this situation occur, the only option left to the paralegal or typing service is to tell the client to consult with an attorney before coming back to him or her for the typing of the documents.
  • The DPS must have a written contract with each client clearly stating its fees.
  • The DPS contract must provide client with an estimate of time it will take to prepare the documents requested by client.
  • The contract between the DPS and the client must state that the document preparer is not an attorney.
  • The contract must also state that the client has the right to file a complaint with either the Secretary Of State or the Nevada Bar against the DPS for any wrongdoing.
  • DPS must give written notice to the client that no attorney will represent client at court.
  • DPS must show each client its bond and Secretary of State registration information.
  • DPS must provide client with the names of all document preparers working in its offfices.
  • The contract and notice must be translated into Spanish or into any other native language of any clients serviced by the DPS.
  • The client must be told that they are not protected by the attorney/client privilege insofar as his or her discussions with the document preparer.
  • DPS must provide client with its local business license(s).
  • Receipts must be given and monthly statements if appropriate–all on the letterhead of the DPS
  • The letterhead for the DPS must contain its address, phone, tax identification number and registration number with the Nevada Secretary Of State.
  • What many people don’t understand when they hire a paralegal or typing service is that they are representing themselves at court. Even if a client hires a paralegal or typing service that claims that they are “attorney supervised,” only the client’s name(s) appear on the court pleadings; not the name of the attorney who supervises the typing service.

Should a DPS be found to break any of the above rules, the Nevada State Bar would send them a Cease and Desist through Civil Court. If the DPS does not abide by it, the Attorney General will file criminal charges against the DPS, and, or force the service to close.

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

What Does Conscious Uncoupling Have to Do with Divorce?

divorce mediation and conscious uncouplingGwyneth 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.

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

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

 

5 Reasons Why you Might Want to Reconsider Filing your Own Divorce

5 Reasons Why you Might Want to Reconsider Filing your Own Divorce

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.

filing a divorce

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?

What is an Annulment?

annulmentsmallWhat 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.

A man and woman are upset with each other.

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

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