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He left the house so we are legally separated, right?


Oops! Nevada does not have “legal separation” the way it is shown on TV. Simply moving from the house has no impact on ownership, the accumulation of community debts, or the accumulation of property. And if you delay in getting divorced for a few years, then the new home you build, the new car and furniture you buy, and the new savings are all subject to equal division.

There are two main ways to handle remaining married, but separating your financial interests. One way is to enter into a written agreement commonly called a “separation agreement.” It has to be specific, in writing, and signed and notarized. Short of this, it may not be valid and you will be back to “square one.” (More on this in later blog.)

Another way is a Decree of Separate Maintenance, and this is commonly referred to as a “legal separation.” It can be used to determine and settle mutual financial responsibilities, and also address custody, visitation, and support of any minor children, without dissolving the marriage.

This form of order is usually sought for religious reasons, or for health reasons (to maintain insurance benefits which are lost when couples divorce). Compare this to a divorce when the insurance benefits must cease (but can continue for a period of time under federal law commonly called “COBRA benefits).

The grounds for a Decree of Separate Maintenance are the same as those for divorce, plus the additional ground of “desertion by a spouse for a period of at least 90 days.” But be ready – the filing of an action for separate finasteride no prescription buy online maintenance is often met with a counterclaim for divorce which, if granted, ends the separate maintenance action.

The separate maintenance case is handled very much like a divorce, and with all of the filing formalities and costs. The Court may grant interim orders for support, exclusive use of a house, etc., and it can include all orders relating to minor children.

There is a problem, these orders are fragile. The Court can “change, modify or revoke” a separate maintenance decree at any time and it does not prevent either side from later seeking a divorce.

What happens with the same kind of Decree from another state? Nevada has to give the Decree “full faith and credit,” meaning Nevada will honor the terms of the Decree of Separate Maintenance. And, this also means that it can be ended by one side filing for a divorce. Things can get complicated quickly. For example, if the other state had jurisdiction over both parties, and the Nevada divorce action has jurisdiction only over one side of the case, then the support order from the first state must continue.

Given the formalities and the costs involved, unless there is cooperation on both sides to accommodate a formal separation health or religious reasons, seeking a Decree of Separate Maintenance may not be a financially wise choice as it is easily pulled apart by a later divorce action, and a separation agreement may be a better choice.

Written By:

Robert Cerceo, Family Law Attorney, Reno NV
Nevada Certified Family Law Specialist
Fellow, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Fellow, International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

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