You've probably heard about the "quickie" marriages that take place in Nevada. We often read stories about celebrities, real or fiction (remember Ross and Rachel?), hustling into the nearest chapel to prove their love to one another. But what happens when the fairy tale ends, and you are staring divorce in the face?
Regardless of where you choose to file for divorce, the first step is to file a petition for divorce (or in some states, dissolution of marriage), and when you do, you must identify a specific reason for your request. Your reasons, or legal grounds, tell the court exactly why you want a judge to terminate your marriage, and without it, the court can't proceed.
Some states allow couples to pursue a fault divorce, which is especially helpful if you're spouse committed some marital misconduct, and you believe the misconduct caused your relationship to fail. Every jurisdiction is different, so fault grounds vary, but the most common include adultery, abandonment, conviction of a crime, or alcohol and drug addiction.
All states give divorcing couples the opportunity to use a more straightforward divorce process called no-fault. In a no-fault divorce, the court isn't concerned with either spouse's behavior during the marriage. Instead, the judge grants the divorce if the couple can demonstrate that they have lived apart for a certain amount of time, or if the marriage suffered irreconcilable differences, meaning the couple can't get along and there's no chance they will reconcile in the future. Because the court doesn't need to rehash past behaviors or place blame on either spouse, the process moves faster than fault divorce, which benefits both parties.
Nevada is purely a no-fault divorce state, which means the judge won't accept evidence or hear testimony on why your spouse's poor choices during the marriage are the reason for your breakup. Instead, you can request a divorce if at least one spouse is willing to tell the court that you've become incompatible with your partner, and there's no real chance the incompatibility will change in the future.
If you can't demonstrate incompatibility, you can also pursue a divorce if you can prove that you and your spouse have lived separate and apart, without cohabitation, for at least one year. You can usually verify separate residences by providing the court with a copy of a lease agreement for a new home, testimony from friends or family providing you with new living accommodations, or if both parties agree, by putting the statement in writing.
If you're having trouble convincing the court of your incompatibility, and you can't meet the requirements for living apart, you can also ask the court for a divorce if your spouse is legally insane. It's common for divorcing couples to think their spouses are crazy, but your opinion isn't enough for a no-fault divorce in Nevada.
For either spouse to prove insanity, you must show the court that your spouse has been insane for at least two years before you filed for divorce. You can prove this with medical or psychological evidence, or proof of your spouse's admission to a mental health facility. The court doesn't take the allegation of mental illness lightly, so a judge may also request testimony from doctors who have treated your spouse in the past.
Although Nevada has adopted the more clear-cut approach of no-fault divorce, courts still have an interest in making sure you're not approaching the idea of divorce without thought. That said, if both spouses agree that the marriage is too broken to reconcile, the judge will typically grant the divorce if you can meet the state's residency requirement.
Marriages can happen quickly, but before filing for divorce, you must prove that at least one spouse has been a resident in the state for a minimum of six weeks, and intends on remaining in Nevada after the divorce is final.
You can establish residency by presenting a document called an affidavit, which is a written statement signed by a neutral third-party who is willing to testify that they have physically seen you in the state at least three or four times in the past six weeks.
When couples can't agree on legal grounds, or can't decide who should have custody of the children, the divorce is contested and will need court intervention. But, if you and your spouse are willing and able to negotiate all the terms of your divorce settlement agreement, the process can be substantially less expensive and time-consuming.
Uncontested divorce, or summary divorce, is a process where you and your spouse agree on the essential divorce-related issues, and both of you are willing to put your agreement in writing to present to the court. Once you submit your divorce settlement agreement, a judge will sign it, and your divorce will be final.
Like contested divorce, there are requirements that you must meet before a judge approves your request. Couples who would like a summary divorce must demonstrate the following:
A summary divorce seems complicated, but once you and your spouse put your negotiations in a written document, you won't need to appear in front of a judge. The process of uncontested divorce saves time and money, and perhaps the most important, it allows the couple to maintain a working relationship after the divorce is final.