Paying Bills During The Divorce

Posted: 17 September, 2019

How bills are paid and who should pay them will often be the first problem encountered.  You make all the money.  Your check is direct deposited into a joint bank account to pay the bills. With the divorce, you are probably going to move into an apartment.

Do you have to support two households?  You don’t know if your check can support two households.  What bills do you pay? Do you still deposit your check into the joint bank account? How about her, does she need to get a job?

Who Pays What

When a divorce is first filed there is an awkward transition period of 30 to 60 days.  A judge could order you to pay the bills, but the case is too new and you haven’t been to court yet. You are still married.  However, Nevada doesn’t have any laws obligating married couples to continue paying bills while together or living separate.

Actually, Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS 123) does talk about not supporting spouses who have abandoned you and the duties of a women supporting a disabled man with no separate property.  These are old laws no longer enforced by the court.

This transition period can be a big issue.  While a Divorce is pending who pays the bills?  Our answer is, whomever historically paid them before the divorce started.  If you paid the mortgage, and car payments while she paid the utilities, you should continue.  At least until you have a court order stating otherwise.

We say this because if you don’t she is going to file a motion for temporary orders.  This motion is where the judge makes temporary decisions about issues like custody schedules, economic support, who can live in the house, and bills.   The judge’s decision is most often to continue the “status quo”.    Whomever was paying the bills before should continue paying them.

Another reason we say to continue with the status quo is when the Complaint for Divorce was filed it will typically include a Joint Preliminary Injunction (JPI).  A JPI warns both spouses to not encumber or dispose of community assets.   Even though a JPI doesn’t specifically talk about bills, the judges like to interpret it in a way that it does.

Can’t Afford Two Households

What if status quo is not possible?   This argument typically comes up if you were forced to move out of the home.   Adding expenses of a “second home” is challenging most budgets.  In many cases, financial woes are part of the reason for the divorce or separation. Many families require two incomes just to survive. Now you have to pay your attorney’s retainer, rent for the apartment, utility deposits, etc.  Dollar bills aren’t made of rubber.

Courts don’t have the power to print money. You will need to cut back. Temporarily both of you may need to cut back on eating out, golf, shopping, gun range, or Starbucks.   You may choose to move in with a friend or family member.   Sometimes the budget is so you might have to cut back on items like tuition for the kids, or cable.   Your spouse will not like this.   The court won’t either if done maliciously.  Make sure your Las Vegas divorce attorney prepares a budget to present to the court the need for these cutbacks.

The court requires both spouses to complete a Financial Disclosure Form (FDF) before it will make decisions on finances.  The FDF doesn’t always tell the whole picture.  And don’t expect your spouse’s FDF to do you any favors.  Her attorney will claim you have 30% more money than you really have.   An experience divorce attorney understands the best way to complete your FDF and to counter her attorney.

Stacking the Debt

If you are using credit cards or borrowing money to get by during your divorce, those bills will be part of the division of debts.  You may have no choice, but be cautious with this approach.  Debts acquired after a divorce filing are still considered community debts.

Stuck With the Bills?  Contact Right Lawyers. Call (702) 914-0400 to talk with my staff about a consultation.