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.
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.
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:
(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:
(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).)
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:
(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.
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.
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.