No-Fault Divorce

We’ve all heard this story before: you thought you met the person of your dreams, but after a while you discover that you just aren’t right for each other.  Now you want out.

Is this enough of a reason to get a divorce?

In the past, you needed a valid reason to divorce your spouse.  Only “fault-based” divorces existed.  That meant any person filing for divorce had to prove to the court their spouse engaged in some kind of wrongdoing (such as abuse, adultery, or desertion) in order to get a divorce.  It added time, expense, and animosity to divorce litigation.

Las Vegas, Nevada was one of the first places you didn’t need a reason to file the divorce.   Around 1930 Nevada changed the laws to relax the reasons a couple wanted a divorce.  They did this because couples from California would travel to Nevada to hang out for several weeks and then file a “no-fault” divorce.    While they waited for the paperwork to be processed the couple would stay in the hotels, gamble, and dine.

Today, no-fault divorce exists in almost every state.  “No-fault”means that no person filing for divorce is required to prove their spouse is a scumbag in order to justify a divorce.

In Nevada, couples can be granted a divorce for any of the following reasons: the insanity of one spouse for two (2) years before filing for divorce, the spouses living separate and apart for one (1) year without cohabitation, and incompatibility.  Incompatibility is by far the most common cause for divorce.

Simply claiming “incompatibility” is enough to get a judge to approve.  When a person claims incompatibility, it means they admit they don’t get along their spouse and their marriage can’t be saved.

Can My Spouse Prevent The Divorce?

What if your spouse doesn’t want a divorce?  What if your spouse wants to stay married?  Is this a reason for the court to deny my divorce?

In Nevada, a divorce can be granted with the participation of only spouse and over the objection of the other spouse.  As long as one spouse wants a divorce, the court will grant it.

What If My Spouse Is At Fault For Our Divorce?

What if the reason you want a divorce is because your spouse engaged in some kind of wrongdoing, like had an extramarital affair? Does an affair matter to the court at all?

Because Nevada is a no-fault divorce state, evidence of spousal misconduct is irrelevant to the judge’s decision to grant a divorce.  However, depending on the circumstances and the consequences of the spousal misconduct, it may be relevant to the judge’s decision on other issues, such as child custody.

Will I Get More Of The Assets?

Nevada is a community property state.  That means, unless you have a written agreement otherwise, almost all property acquired after marriage belongs to both spouses equally.

When couples divorce in Nevada, the court is required to equally divide the community property unless it finds a compelling reason not to.  So, depending on the circumstances and the consequences of the spousal misconduct, the court might consider it a compelling reason to award one spouse a greater share of community property.

For example, you filed for divorce because you found proof your spouse engaged in an extramarital affair.   Maybe you have receipts showing your spouse spent thousands of dollars of community property money on some homewrecker.  The court might find this to be a compelling reason and award you a greater share of the bank account to reimburse you.

Will I Get More Alimony?

In any divorce case, the judge can order one spouse to pay money to the other spouse for their support if it is “just and equitable.”  This is called alimony (also known as spousal support).  In Nevada, an award of alimony is discretionary with the court.  This means the judge is not required to award alimony at all – it is completely up to the judge to decide based on the facts.

However, Nevada law does require judges to consider certain facts in deciding whether to award alimony and how much to award.  It also allows judges to consider any other fact they consider relevant in deciding, except the fault or misconduct of either party.   This is because, in Nevada, alimony is not a punishment for one spouse’s misconduct.

So, is your spouse’s extramarital affair something the court will find relevant in deciding whether to award you alimony?  No.  Nevada law actually prohibits judges from considering spousal misconduct in deciding whether to award alimony.  However, if, for example, your spouse’s extramarital affair left you with severe depression that prevents you from working, the judge would consider those particular facts in determining whether to award you alimony.