Adultery in Nevada: Does Cheating Affect Alimony?

If you’re getting divorced in Nevada and you or your spouse has cheated, you’ll need to know how the adultery will affect the judge’s decisions about your case, including alimony, child custody, and child support.

By , Retired Judge

Adultery can cause a marriage to become an emotional nightmare, and it's a common cause of divorce in Nevada. When you're ending your marriage because one (or both) of you has cheated, it's possible that the adultery will impact the outcome of your divorce, including any potential award of alimony. Every state's alimony laws are different; here's a breakdown of how Nevada's alimony laws address adultery.

An Overview of Alimony in Nevada

Divorce can cause financial turmoil and reveal hard truths about each spouse's post-divorce financial prospects. Often, one spouse will be in a better position than the other, with, for example, a higher-paying job, a more promising career path, or access to more assets.

The courts attempt to balance these inequities by ordering the spouse who's more financially sound to pay alimony (also referred to as "maintenance" or "spousal support") to the other. The main goal of alimony is to ensure that both spouses can provide for their own needs after the divorce.

How Nevada Courts Determine Alimony

Nevada's divorce laws give judges a lot of discretion in making determinations about alimony. The basic requirement is that the court's decision must be fair. That said, the law requires judges to examine the following factors when deciding whether to award alimony, as well as the amount and duration of any award:

  • each spouse's financial situation
  • how much property each spouse owns
  • each spouse's contribution to the property they own together
  • the length of the marriage
  • each spouse's income, earning capacity, age, and health
  • the couple's standard of living during the marriage
  • the pre-marital career of the spouse who would receive alimony
  • education or skills gained by each spouse during the marriage
  • either spouse's contributions as homemaker
  • how much property the spouse who would receive alimony will get in the divorce, and
  • each spouse's physical and mental condition as it relates to that spouse's financial condition, health, and ability to work.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125.150(9) (2021).)

Also, the judge must evaluate whether one of the spouses needs alimony in order to pursue a job, career, or profession by considering:

  • whether the spouse who would pay alimony has obtained job skills or education during the marriage
  • whether the spouse who would receive alimony provided financial support while the other spouse obtained job skills or education, and
  • any other factors the court believes are relevant.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125.150(10) (2021).)

The current trend is for courts to award alimony for a defined amount of time. Usually this means providing needier spouses with support for a period of time that will allow them to take steps to become self-sufficient. For example, a spouse who's been out of the job market for a while might need some additional education or training to compete.

That being said, there is still the possibility that a court might award long-term (indefinite) alimony. Ordinarily, this option will be used only when there has been a lengthy marriage, particularly when one of the spouses isn't a good candidate for employment, perhaps because of age or medical issues.

Nevada law also permits judges to award temporary alimony while the divorce is in progress, to help maintain the financial status quo until the divorce process ends. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125.040(1) (2021).)

Does Committing Adultery in Nevada Affect Whether the Court Will Grant a Divorce?

Divorces in Nevada are granted strictly on a "no-fault" basis. In a no-fault divorce, you don't have to show that either spouse was guilty of misconduct. There are three grounds for divorce in Nevada, any one of which is a valid reason for a judge to grant a divorce:

  • a spouse's insanity that exists for two years before the divorce process begins
  • the spouses have lived separate and apart for one year without cohabitation (sexual relations), and
  • incompatibility (meaning the spouses can't get along, and there's no reasonable prospect of that changing).

(Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125.010 (2021).)

Because Nevada has done away with fault-based divorce, judges will not consider evidence of adultery when granting divorces.

Does Adultery Affect Alimony in Nevada?

Adultery in Nevada generally has no impact on alimony. In reviewing the factors a judge considers regarding alimony (above), you'll notice that marital misconduct isn't on the list.

However, adultery might indirectly affect the outcome of a divorce. For example, let's say one of the spouses cheated on the other. If the unfaithful spouse drained the couple's bank account to finance the infidelity, like with trips or gifts, a court might award the other spouse a greater share of the couple's assets as compensation, when deciding the distribution of marital property.

Does Adultery Affect Custody or Child Support in Nevada?

In most Nevada divorce cases, the fact that a spouse has cheated doesn't affect custody or child support. However, it's important to remember that when it comes to custody matters, judges must prioritize the best interests of the children. So if a parent's adulterous behavior compromises a child's health or safety, it could certainly affect a judge's custody decision. For example, if a parent leaves a young child unattended because that parent is off having an extra-marital affair, a judge would probably be less inclined to entrust the child's well-being to that parent.