Nevada Divorce Basics

Learn the basics of a divorce, or dissolution of marriage, in Nevada.

By , Attorney · Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School

Filing for divorce is never easy. However, getting a divorce in Nevada doesn't have to be a long and painful process. In many situations, couples can resolve their divorces quickly and inexpensively.

This article provides an overview of Nevada's divorce laws. If you have questions after reading this article, contact a local family law attorney for advice.

The Nevada Divorce Process

When you file for divorce in Nevada, you'll need to cite a reason (also called "grounds") for the divorce. Nevada is a no-fault state, meaning that you can file for divorce based on incompatibility with your spouse.

In a no-fault case, neither spouse has to take the blame. To obtain a divorce based on incompatibility, you and/or your spouse must file a statement that you can't get along and you don't believe you can and or will reconcile.

Alternatively, you can request a divorce in Nevada by claiming you've been separated for at least one year, or if your spouse has suffered from insanity for at least two years. Unlike some other states, Nevada doesn't recognize any fault-based divorce grounds. See NV Rev. Stat. § 125.010 (2020).

Where you get married is irrelevant to where you should file your divorce. For example, a couple may get married in Vegas but file for divorce in California, because that's where they're living at the time of filing. Nevada also has a process for terminating registered domestic partnerships. The process is very similar to the laws pertaining to divorce, except that domestic partners may qualify for a simplified domestic partnership termination.

How to Get a Divorce in Nevada

Before you can file for divorce in Nevada, you or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least six weeks. You'll also need to ensure that you file for divorce in the correct county court. You can file for divorce in the district court in the county where either spouse lives. See NV Rev. Stat. § 125.020 (2020).

The Las Vegas divorce process, for example, will be very similar to the divorce process in other Nevada cities like Reno. Some counties may have additional filing rules, so check with your local county clerk if you're unsure about the requirements in your case.

Nevada's divorce process time is much faster than some other states. Once you've filed your divorce paperwork, there's no waiting period before your divorce is granted in Nevada. If you and your spouse are in agreement on all terms of your divorce, your case may move swiftly. For couples who can't agree, a judge will schedule a trial to decide the issues in your case.

If you're planning to handle your divorce without an attorney, read our article on Filing for Divorce in Nevada.

How Will a Judge Divide Property in a Nevada Divorce?

In terms of property rights, Nevada is a community property state, which means any property acquired during the marriage, including your home, either spouse's income, and personal property is considered "community property" and is equally owned by the spouses.

Community property is divided equally in a divorce. A judge will also divide debts acquired during the marriage evenly between the spouses.

Separate property is any property that was acquired by either spouse before the marriage, after the date of separation, or which was received by gift or inheritance during marriage. Separate property typically remains the separate property of the spouse who acquired it.

Instead of leaving things up to a judge to decide, couples can reach their own divorce settlement agreements deciding property, awarding alimony, and resolving child custody and child support.

In many cases, a judge won't schedule a divorce trial until the couple has tried to divorce mediation, where a neutral third party (usually a family law attorney) will try to help the couple reach agreements on all their disputed divorce-related issues. If they can resolve everything, the mediator will help them prepare a martial settlement agreement. A judge will review any settlement agreement to ensure that it's fair and that custody and child support meet a child's best interests.

Calculating Alimony in a Nevada Divorce

Judges don't grant alimony (also called spousal support or spousal maintenance) in every divorce case. In cases where the spouses have unequal financial positions, one spouse may be required to provide alimony to the other after a divorce.

The judge will review several factors to determine whether alimony is appropriate, and if so, how much. For example, a judge may consider whether either spouse contributed to the education or job training of the other, either spouse's ability to support himself or herself, and the other spouse's ability to pay alimony.

Alimony may be awarded in different ways–temporary, lump sum, or periodic. For example, an alimony award can be temporary and continue for a few months or a few years after the divorce in order to help a lower-earning spouse become self-supporting.

Alternatively, alimony may be awarded in a lump sum, where the recipient spouse receives a large, one-time payout. Periodic alimony awards are the most common and involve monthly alimony payments that continue for the length of the couple's marriage. A periodic alimony award automatically terminates if either spouse dies or the recipient spouse remarries.

How Will a Judge Calculate Child Support?

Nevada enacted state statutory guidelines for calculating child support. Parents can estimate their monthly child support obligation through on online child support calculator. Child support in Nevada is based largely upon the parents' incomes and the number of children involved.

In addition to income, Nevada divorce laws allow the court to consider health insurance obligations, childcare costs, and educational and medical expenses when calculating child support.

A judge may adjust the amount of support in your case to account for these expenses. There is no minimum amount of child support and no cap on child support awards in Nevada according to some recent changes to Nevada's divorce and custody laws.

The Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services enforces child support obligations in the state and can assist parents with opening a new child support case.

Determining Child Custody in Nevada

A child's best interests are central to any custody case. A judge will evaluate several factors to design the child custody arrangement best suited to the child's needs. Specifically, a judge may review: the parents' and child's wishes for custody, each parent's relationship with the child, the child's adjustment to school and community, each parent's physical and mental health, and the child's physical, developmental, and emotional needs.

The court may also consider which parent is more likely to allow frequent contact between the child and the noncustodial parent, the parents' geographical proximity, and the child's relationship with siblings and extended family members.

At a custody trial, a judge will decide both physical and legal custody. Depending on your child's best interests, a judge may award parents joint physical and legal custody, one parent sole physical and/or legal custody, or some combination of the two.

A judge's custody order will stay in place until a child reaches 18 and graduates high school, is emancipated, or the order is modified (changed). To modify a custody order, the parent seeking a modification must show a significant change in circumstances.