War is hell, and divorce is ugly. They're cliches because they're true. But there is such a thing as a kinder, gentler divorce. It's called an uncontested divorce, and if you and your spouse are reasonable people who are willing to negotiate, you might be able to get one in Nevada. Uncontested divorces are for people who can come to a total agreement about the issues involved in ending a marriage.
In Nevada, one type of uncontested divorce is known as a "summary divorce." To get a summary divorce, you and your spouse will need to decide on how you'll divide marital property, whether either spouse will pay alimony or child support, and who will become the primary caretaker of any children.
A summary divorce is quicker and cheaper than a traditional divorce—spouses can often use a DIY solution like an online divorce service. They do, though, also have the option of getting professional help. When you get a summary divorce, you won't even have to go to court—just file your documents at the courthouse, and a judge will sign them if everything is in order.
You can get a summary divorce only if all of the following are true:
(Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125.181.)
You can get a summary divorce whether or not you and your spouse have children together. If you have children, you'll just need to provide some extra papers that memorialize your agreement, like the child support guidelines worksheet.
One of the most important things you'll need to understand about getting divorced in Nevada is how the courts work. The Nevada District Courts are the state's trial courts, and they're responsible for all divorce and other kinds of family proceedings. Each district contains one or more counties. There are 17 county courts in Nevada, which the state divides into ten different districts. You will be responsible for filing your paperwork in the correct location, which you can locate here.
Essentially, you and your spouse will work through your summary divorce together. You might be able to find some of the forms you'll need online, although the requirements vary from courthouse to courthouse. The Nevada Judiciary: Self-Help Resources and Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada: Divorce Help are helpful resources.
Again, processes might vary, but generally speaking, the first thing you'll need to do is prepare, sign, and file a joint petition. Both spouses need to sign this under oath, in the presence of a notary public.
The joint petition must explain that the spouses have lived in Nevada for at least six weeks and also indicate the grounds for divorce—either because you're incompatible or because you've been separated for a year. Finally, you must include the following information in your joint petition:
(Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125.182.)
You'll also need to include an "affidavit of corroboration of residency," a sworn statement (sometimes called a resident affidavit) which verifies that you have lived in Nevada for at least six weeks. Finally, you must attach the marital settlement agreement (a written agreement dividing your property and debts, resolving alimony, establishing child support, custody and visitation, and settling any other issues in the marriage) to the petition.
Take all the required paperwork to the office of the clerk of court for your county. The clerk will ask you to pay the filing fees, which vary from courthouse to courthouse. If you can't afford to pay them, ask the clerk to give you fee waiver forms. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 12.015.) The fee waiver forms will require you to provide financial information, and if a judge agrees that you meet the requirements, the court will waive all the fees.
The court clerk will then give the paperwork to the judge. If you've done everything correctly, you should have a signed divorce decree in a matter of weeks. In Nevada, your divorce date is the date you file the final divorce decree with the clerk.
It's critical that you obtain the correct forms, instructions, and checklists and follow them precisely. Don't be afraid to ask the court clerks for help, but understand that they can't give you legal advice. Take your time and work carefully. Uncontested divorce only allows you to avoid going to court if you do everything right. If you rush through the process and make mistakes, the court may delay your divorce.