Surratt Law Practice, PC is a Reno, Nevada divorce and family law firm. Our firm can assist you with either an uncontested divorce (through alternative dispute resolution such as or collaborative divorce or mediation) or a contested divorce.
Surratt Law Practice, PC is a Reno, Nevada divorce and family law firm. Our firm can assist you with either an uncontested divorce (through alternative dispute resolution such as collaborative divorce or mediation) or a contested divorce.
In order to get a divorce in Nevada, you or your spouse must be a Nevada resident. That means you must have lived here for at least six weeks prior to filing for a divorce with the intention to make Nevada your home going forward.
There are two types of divorces in Nevada, uncontested divorces, also known as Joint Petitions for Divorce, or contested divorces, which begin with a Complaint.
A contested divorce is what happens when you and your spouse cannot agree on significant terms, typically custody and visitation issues, or financial issues. Contested divorce begins when one spouse files a Complaint for Divorce and the other spouse is served with a Summons and Complaint. Contested divorces are typically longer and more expensive and are very emotionally difficult. We always talk to clients to find out if there is a way to negotiate terms of divorce before filing a Complaint for Divorce. However, in some cases, going to Court is unavoidable. If your spouse is angry and will not be reasonable, you might have no choice but to rely on the Court to make determinations about your children, your assets and your debts.
Uncontested divorces are typically more efficient, less expensive, and do not require the divorcing parties to go to Court. While divorce is never easy, usually clients who can come to terms with their spouse and proceed with a Joint Petition are less emotionally scarred by the process than parties who fight it out in Court. In order to get an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must be in agreement on all significant terms. Typically, custody and visitation, division of assets and debts, and issues of support. An uncontested divorce can be completed with our assistance in negotiating terms, drafting the Marital Settlement Agreement and the other documents required to complete the process. Often people find it easier to have an attorney assist in talking with their spouse or spouse’s attorney to resolve areas of disagreement without going to Court. While attorneys are not required for any type of divorce in Nevada, it is recommended that you at least consult with a lawyer before deciding whether you need to hire an attorney or proceed without counsel.
While we always look for ways to avoid Court for the sake of our clients and their children, we are capable attorneys who will effectively advocate for you in Court if your case ends up being contested. It
is also important to know that most cases that begin as contested divorces are usually resolved short of a full-blown divorce trial with the assistance of a Judge in reaching a settlement. One of the primary issues that divorcing parties fight about is custody of their children.
There are two kinds of custody – Legal Custody and Physical Custody.
Legal custody is the concept of making parenting decisions such as school enrollment, extracurricular activities, religious upbringing and medical needs of the children on a non-emergency basis. In most cases, parents share joint legal custody and are encouraged to confer with one another regarding parenting decisions even after divorce. Physical custody is where the children spend their time.
Physical custody can be joint or primary custody with one parent. In a joint physical custody situation, the parents share roughly equal parenting time with their children. If one parent has primary custody, that parent has the children with him or her more than 60% of the time. Nevada public policy is that both parents remain an active part of the children’s lives, even after divorce. In Nevada, the Court’s focus in making custody determination is the best interest of the child. Some of the factors the Court will consider in determining the best interest of the child are:
- The wishes of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to form an intelligent preference as to his or her custody.
- Any nomination by a parent or a guardian for the child.
- Which parent is more likely to allow the child to have frequent associations and a continuing relationship with the noncustodial parent.
- The level of conflict between the parents.
- The ability of the parents to cooperate to meet the needs of the child.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The physical, developmental and emotional needs of the child.
- The nature of the relationship of the child with each parent.
- The ability of the child to maintain a relationship with any sibling.
- Any history of parental abuse or neglect of the child or a sibling of the child.
- Whether either parent or any other person seeking custody has engaged in an act of domestic violence against the child, a parent of the child or any other person residing with the child.
- Whether either parent or any other person seeking custody has committed any act of abduction against the child or any other child.
Nevada is a No-Fault Divorce State
In other words, the grounds for divorce in Nevada are Incompatibility, Insanity existing for two years prior to filing for divorce, or Living Separately for a year. In most cases, the grounds for divorce are Incompatibility. If one spouse thinks you are incompatible in marriage, the Court will grant a divorce even if the other spouse wants to remain married.
Many clients are concerned because their spouse has begun a new romantic relationship. Because Nevada is a no-fault divorce state, this rarely makes a difference in the ultimate outcome of the divorce. However, it certainly impacts the emotions which infuse a case and can make a relatively straight forward divorce more difficult. Nevertheless, one spouse having an affair will rarely impact the division of assets and debts or the amount of support paid from one party to another. In some instances, an affair can result in marital waste, a legal concept meaning that one spouse’s spending is not benefitting the community in any respect.
However, marital waste claims can be very expensive, and clients are often advised to not pursue this legal claim because it is not cost effective to do so. Nevada is a community property state. That means that all of the money earned during marriage is community property meaning each spouse has an equal, undivided claim to one half of the earnings. In other words, if you and your spouse together earn $100,000 per year but you earned $75,000 and your spouse earned $25,000, you each have an equal, undivided claim to $50,000. Everything you buy during marriage with community funds is community property. Exceptions to community property are gifts, inheritance and proceeds from a personal injury suit or settlement.
For most families, most of what they earn and acquire during marriage is community property. All debts incurred during marriage are community debts. In Nevada, upon divorce, the Court makes an equal division of community property assets and debts. In most cases the division is not exactly equal but is substantially equal.
However, it is not uncommon for a Judge to order that the party keeping the brand new car with $20,000 still owed on the car to also take the debt associated with the car, even if that results in a slightly unequal division of community property. These are some of the broad concepts of divorce in Nevada. However, no two cases are the same and you should meet with a lawyer to get advice specific to your circumstances.