How to Divorce a Spouse Who Makes the Income

How do you divorce a spouse who makes all the money, controls the bank accounts, and controls the credit cards?   It’s not easy because you will need money to hire an attorney, and money to pay bills until you get a court date.

Choosing to divorce your spouse, who controls all the income is a scary proposition. You need income to hire an attorney, to buy food, and pay utilities.  Nevada is a community property state, so you have a right to half of the income.  But if your spouse decides to stop sharing their paycheck you will likely need a court order telling your spouse this is the rule in Nevada.  And that court date typically takes 90 days.   So, what do you do for money during those 90 days?

This type of situation is common and solved more through financial planning than legal proceedings.    This situation is more about money than law.   The law states that half of their income is yours.   But if your spouse chooses to ignore this law and cut you off financially you will need a court order to force a spouse to share the income.   It will take 90 days to see a judge and to get such a court order.   90 days of no income can feel like a lifetime.

Sometimes you have no choice, and you must wing it.    You can hire an attorney with a credit card and hang on for 90 days.   If you don’t need to wing it, then you should prepare “financially”.   Here are some tips.

Stay in the Home

Don’t leave the home unless you need to because of violence.   No need to spend money on rent, deposits, or utilities.   Your spouse is not likely to stop paying the mortgage of the utilities of a home they live in.   And, your spouse cannot evict you from the home after you file the divorce.  Under Nevada law a spouse cannot evict their spouse without court permission.   Even if the home is titled in their name.  So, if there is no concern for physical danger then stay in the home.

Create a Budget

How much money do you need each month?  How much are your essential monthly bills?  Create a spreadsheet.   Tally up how much you would need, if you spouse cuts off the income.   Your spouse will likely pay the mortgage, or utilities.   So, your typical expenses are food, cell phone, car insurance, etc.  Your expenses should be those items a spouse cannot or would not stop paying.    Add up all these expenses.

Make sure to add in money for your attorney.   You will likely need an attorney to file the divorce, and to request the court to force your spouse to keep paying the bills.

Finding Income

Once you have the budget, you now know how much you need to gather to weather the divorce storm.   You know how much you need to not be affected by your spouse cutting of the income stream.   With this number you can start looking for sources of income to help with the budge.   You look for work or additional part time income.    You can ask friends or family.   You can save money.   You can ask your divorce attorney about taking possession of a savings account or retirement account that you have access to.  There are ways to gather savings.

Motion for Temporary Orders

With a budget and a plan for dealing with the income shortfall you can start the divorce process.    An attorney will file the divorce documents, which gives your spouse three weeks to respond.   One of these documents is a Joint Preliminary Injunction (JPI).   This document makes it a violation of a court order for your spouse to not continue with the status quo.  Paying the regular and ordinary bills is status quo.  By cutting you off financially your spouse has now violated this JPI.

Your will attorney will also file a motion for temporary orders.   This is a motion where you request the judge to make a temporary decision.  Typical requests are for continuing income payments, setting temporary support, deciding if someone needs to move out of the home, and deciding a temporary custody schedule.   The temporary orders hearing is the hearing that is scheduled about 90 days out.

After this temporary motion hearing there is no worries about income.  The judge will explain to your spouse that their income is your income too.    Many times, this is all that is need to start settling the divorce.