If you are getting divorced in Nevada, do you know what property you get to keep and what you have to split with your spouse? And who will be responsible for the debts you and your spouse incurred during the marriage--or before?
Nevada is a community property state. This means that all income earned and property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is community property. Community property belongs to both spouses equally, so it must be split equally between the spouses at divorce. Likewise, all debts incurred during the marriage are considered community debts and both spouses are equally responsible for them.
If you and your spouse agree that you don’t want to split the community property equally, then the two of you can decide what’s fair in a written separation agreement. If you can’t agree or if there are certain assets in dispute, then you can still get the unequal division you prefer, or close to it, by convincing the court that there is a compelling, equitable reason for doing so.
Separate Property Excluded
Before the court can divide the community property, it must distinguish it from any separate property that you may own independently. Generally, separate property is property you owned before marriage. Under some circumstances, it also includes property you acquired during marriage, like a gift, an inheritance, or a personal-injury award. Likewise, any profit or rent you receive from your separate property remains your property alone.
Although the court excludes your separate property at division, it must presume that all property you acquired during marriage is community property. To keep something you gained during marriage out of the property division, you need to give the court clear and convincing proof that it was yours before marriage, or was a gift intended only for you, or one of the other justifications that characterize property as separate. Even where you prove that an asset is separate, however, the court might set it aside to cover alimony, child support, or a community debt.
Real property like the family home, personal property like jewelry, and intangible property like income, dividends, and benefits are commonly divided at divorce. Liabilities, or debts, must also be divided or assigned to one spouse or the other. Just like other property, before dividing a debt, the court has to characterize it as community or separate based on when it was acquired, who acquired it, and how it was used. Then the court will apply the factors below to assign responsibility for it.
Learn more about Divorce in Nevada.
Fault not Considered
From a starting point of equal division, the court can shift the property rights from one spouse to the other based on the unique circumstances of the marriage. You may get more of the community property, for example, if you have custody of the children and have fewer financial resources than your spouse because you worked as a homemaker during marriage.
The court will not, however, increase your share of community property because your spouse had an affair or otherwise caused the marriage to fail. The law allows the court to distribute the community property unevenly based on compelling reasons, but those reasons tend to be economic rather than moral; they can’t be based on fault.
Alimony Determined Separately
You might be entitled to alimony if the divorce will make it difficult for you to maintain the standard of living you had during marriage. Alimony is not designed to punish a spouse, so fault is not considered here, either. It can help bridge at least part of the financial gap if you contributed more of the unpaid work during marriage, or even if you brought monetary resources to the marriage but your age, health, ability to work, or some other factor leaves you unfairly disadvantaged at divorce.
Determination of alimony is not part of the property-division process. The amount and duration of payments depends on factors such as your age and health, but also on how you contributed to the marriage – including the contribution of a homemaker – and what your obligations will be after divorce.
Any award for alimony must be just and equitable, so the court can’t ignore your spouse’s ability to pay. In accounting for both spouses’ financial conditions, the court can order alimony in lump sum payments or to be made on a schedule.