Marital Agreements

Marital Agreements Prenup

Surratt Law Practice, PC is a Reno, Nevada firm that can represent you in drafting and/or negotiating a prenuptial or postnuptial marital agreement.  Prenuptial agreements are a tool to address property and asset division before a relationship goes “sours” when the two people still care about each other.

In the state of Nevada, engaged, married, or cohabiting couples may enter into agreements defining their property rights, and depending upon the type of agreement, their support, and other rights and obligations according to Chapter 123A.010 – 100 of the Nevada Revised Statutes.

The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act defines a premarital agreement as, “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.” Talking about establishing a prenuptial agreement as part of your wedding plans may seem like a negative conversation. The emotional dynamic of “negotiating the divorce while planning the wedding” can be difficult.

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Debt and Divorce

Devt, Divorce, Law, Surratt Law

By: Melissa L. Exline, Esq.

Divorce can be an expensive endeavor. It can be worse when the married couple is drowning in debt. Paying for the lawyer and setting up a new household after divorce, are just a couple of the big things that siphon proceeds from your pocket as well. Legal bills and court costs come even before a person gets their share of property, child support or alimony. Because of this, it is very helpful to make sure to take care of the financial expenses by way of proper planning. While it is stressful, the freedom you will get down the line will be worth the struggle.

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Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act: A Triumph for LGBTQ Rights in 2020

By Travis Clark, Esq.

On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, 590 U.S. (2020) – click here for full opinion of the court.  The case involved three separate cases of discrimination against the LGBTQ community:

  • Gerald Bostock was fired from his job for conduct “unbecoming” of a county employee, shortly after he joined a gay softball league. Bostock worked in Clayton County as a child welfare advocate.  Under his leadership, the county won national awards for its work.  After a decade with the county, he was fired shortly after joining the gay softball league.
  • Altitude Express, a skydiving company, fired Donald Zarda days after he mentioned being gay to a client who he thought would feel more at ease due to the tandem skydive, in which their bodies would be very close and touching.
  • Aimee Stephens was fired from Harris Funeral Homes when she transitioned from male to female, after being employed with the funeral home for six years.

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Top 5 Tips for Appearing in a Nevada Court via Internet Device

Zoom washoe county court case

By: Melissa L. Exline, Esq.

In Nevada, many Courts are continuing operations using “audio/visual” equipment.  In Washoe County, this has included programs such as Zoom.  The Judge, Court Clerk, along with a court reporter are present to run the Court.  This has been a learning process for all involved.  Having participated in Court this way for the past month, here is a top 5 tip list for a person appearing in family court in Washoe County:

  1. Dress as if you are going to Court. You still want to look like a nice, respectable person.  First impressions cannot be re-made – so start out on the right foot.
  2. Practice with your equipment at home and feel free to ask if your lawyer has done this too. You do not want to be figuring this out with the pressure of court looming.
  3. Let your attorney be your guide. He or she still knows the players involved better than you do, and Court etiquette still applies.  It can be hard to figure out when to speak up, so it is good to have a plan with your lawyer on how you want to be heard if everyone is talking.
  4. Have a plan on how to talk to your lawyer. Either use the chat features on the application (practice this in advance), or have a plan to email/text/be on the phone with your lawyer while all the other stuff is going on so you can make a private point with your lawyer (when this is permissible) with your attorney.
  5. Manage your expectations on what you can get out of court. This applies for video court or not – but the point is important.  There is only so much time and your lawyer will know which points to make and in what order.  Not everything gets done the way you want it to be, but getting some things done in a tumultuous time is going to have to suffice for now.

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Co-Parenting During COVID-19 for Divorced or Separated Families

By: Melissa L. Exline, Esq.

Yes, this is an issue. We have seen an increase in situations where parents are worried for their children and the worry is whether to send the children over to the other parent for normal custodial exchanges during the pandemic. Is it safe? Are the children going to be exposed and bring something here? It is not easy.

In addition, many times, the parenting orders are written so that exchanges are set to take place before/after school. And plans for Spring Break – well, forget about it. All of that went out the window. Already strained communication could be more strained. Since you are reading this, you know this already and you are ready to not let this undermine how you handle the next messy parenting discussion.

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Parents Facing Custody Issues During Coronavirus Pandemic

CORONAVIRUS COVID-19

The pandemic has been especially hard on parents who share custody of their kids. One family attorney has some advice for parents facing the challenge of parental custody in the time of COVID19.

The pandemic has been hard on just about everyone, but especially for parents who share custody of their kids. One family attorney has some advice for parents facing the challenge of parental custody in the time of COVID19.

Surratt Law Practice family attorney Travis Clark, Esq.  says visitation rights have to be observed even with the stay-at-home order. "The problem we are getting right now is one parent disagrees with the other parent on how they are handling this crisis. That is the issue it boils down to," said Clark.

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What Happens If I Sell the House AFTER We Divorce?

hand giving money for housing on a gray background

By: Melissa L. Exline, Esq.

Be aware, if you sell the marital home after you divorce, the spouse that keeps the home in his or her name only may not be getting exactly what he or she bargained for.  What does that mean?  Well, this means you should take into consideration your long terms goals – i.e. if you are going to keep the house and live in it for some time, or, if you are planning to sell it in the not too distant future.

The reason this is important is because there could be a capital gain tax issue.  Generally, if one spouse moves out and the other keeps the home, the spouse that moved out, i.e. the non-resident spouse, gets “bought out” of his or her interest in the property.  That event is not going to create a tax issue.  However, if the spouse that remains decides to sell the house a year later, the spouse residing in the home might face a capital gains tax.  This will depend on how much gain or increase there is on the original purchase price, among other factors.  Each spouse gets a $250,000 exclusion amount before the capital gain tax kicks in.  So, if a home was sold by both parties (or at least was titled in both parties’ names) there would be a $500,000 total exclusion when using the non-resident spouse’s portion of the exclusion too.  This double exclusion amount could be key to avoiding a tax consequence.

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Child Support Changes

Child Support Colorful Block With Bible And Hammer Over Wooden Desk In Courtroom

By Kimberly M. Surratt, Esq.

The new Nevada Child Support laws will go into effect on February 1, 2020.  The New Regulations in final form are R183-18.  The Regulations refer  to a “low income schedule”.  The Low Income Obligation (2019) will be used on February 1, 2020.

The Low Income Chart may be updated in March or April for the 2020 poverty numbers from the Federal Government.  If the chart changes the regs provide that the chart must be published by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) on or before March 31 of each year.  The AOC will publish the chart in the same manner that they published the updated presumptive maximum chart under the old statutes at www.nvcourts.gov/AOC. (more…)

No Fault Divorce

By Rayna Brachmann, Esq.

Nevada is a “No Fault” Divorce State.  What that means is that one party must assert that the parties are incompatible in marriage, and they can no longer remain married.  The Court rarely, if ever, inquires further.  It is enough to say that we cannot be married anymore and the Court will make a finding that the parties are incompatible and grant a divorce.  This is not the case in every State.

I was recently in South Carolina attending a continuing legal education course taught by an attorney from Florida, who had also practiced family law in South Carolina.  She told me that South Carolina is a “Fault Divorce” State.

Specifically, in South Carolina, there are five grounds for finding fault to grant a divorce.  They are: (1) adultery; (2) desertion for a period of one year; (3) physical cruelty; (4) habitual drunkenness; provided, that this ground shall be construed to include habitual drunkenness caused by the use of any narcotic drug; or (5) on the application of either party if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year. A plea of res judicata or of recrimination with respect to any other provision of this section shall not be a bar to either party obtaining a divorce on this ground.

When the attorney was telling me about her practice in South Carolina, she said that as a matter of practice, the parties could not agree on the record as the “fault” grounds because that would be collusion by the parties, so it would have to be testified to under oath.  In other words, the parties cannot agree that spouse one was having an affair and they each knew about it.  That would not be sufficient in some courts for a Judge to find fault and grant a divorce.  So one spouse would need to be having an affair, and the other spouse would need to be unaware of the affair in order for it to qualify as “fault” for a divorce.

The attorney related another instance where the parties were using the one year of living apart as the grounds for divorce.  However, they both had to testify under oath as to the period of living apart that they had not had sex during that time.  If they had been physically intimate during the one year period, they would have to start the one year time clock over before the Court would grant them a divorce.

In Nevada, and indeed, in much of the West, we take for granted no fault divorce.  When a party is ready to end their marriage, they are not subject to the year separation with no sexual activity between spouses, nor the necessity to prove that one spouse has had an affair or an addiction, or engaged in physical cruelty.  It was a good reminder to appreciate the easier process for a person who is ready, for whatever reason, to end a marriage that is no longer working for them.

Do You Have to Pay Alimony or Spousal Support if You Get a Divorce in Reno, Nevada?

Word ALIMONY composed of wooden letters. Closeup

By: Melissa L. Exline, Esq.

This is one of those “touchy topics” that I find clients get stressed out about.  There are emotions loaded in this term that make asking for, and paying, alimony particularly difficult to deal with. In Nevada, there are situations where family law attorneys can tell if a case is an “alimony case” or not. First, alimony is not required.  There is no law that mandates this must be put in place. However, if the divorcing couple’s particular circumstances warrant consideration for alimony, it would be odd not to consider it when it factually makes sense.

A long-term marriage, where one spouse makes much more money, is a situation where alimony is generally up for discussion. But, the amount of money or assets each spouse is taking from the divided community estate, and whether someone sacrificed a career or job to enable the other to make more money, are also key factors in an “alimony case.” In shorter marriages, with some income imbalance, is not necessarily a case where alimony is required, or, it would be less significant. For example, Nevada Revised Statute 125.150, asks the judges to consider relevant factors, which include:

(a) The financial condition of each spouse;

(b) The nature and value of the respective property of each spouse;

(c) The contribution of each spouse to any property held by the spouses pursuant to NRS 123.030;

(d) The duration of the marriage;

(e) The income, earning capacity, age and health of each spouse;

(f) The standard of living during the marriage;

(g) The career before the marriage of the spouse who would receive the alimony;

(h) The existence of specialized education or training or the level of marketable skills attained by each spouse during the marriage;

(i) The contribution of either spouse as homemaker;

(j) The award of property granted by the court in the divorce, other than child support and alimony, to the spouse who would receive the alimony; and

(k) The physical and mental condition of each party as it relates to the financial condition, health and ability to work of that spouse.

A Nevada court can also consider ordering support to a spouse in order to get training or education related to a job, career or profession. The goal, overall, is to make sure one spouse is able to “stand on their own feet” so-to-speak, by being financially situated to take care of themselves. If a spouse was out of work or made significantly less money for many years while married, the Court is not inclined to cut that person loose and hope they land on their feet financially speaking. A helping hand from the person that promised to take care of their spouse “for richer or poorer” should be expected, at least to some degree.

Questions to ask include:

How many of these factors apply to your situation?

Can you provide other support that might help, like promising to pay off debts or giving other assets to ease the financial burden?

Taking the time to realize alimony might apply, rather than being surprised that it is something any lawyer or court would expect in your situation, is important so your expectations match with reality.

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