What is an Uncontested Divorce?  

An uncontested divorce is a type of divorce proceeding where both husband and wife agree to ALL the terms of their divorce. At Right Divorce Lawyers, we call it a No Fight Divorce because there is nothing to fight about in court. Others may call it an amicable divorce or non-contested divorce. The courts call it a joint petition for divorce. It all means the same. It means all the terms have been decided by the spouses before filing documents with the court.

To start this type of divorce, you file a Joint Petition for Divorce, which is the legal document containing all the agreed-upon terms. This type of divorce case will be resolved faster than a contested divorce, since there are typically no court hearings and all that is needed is the divorce judge’s signature on the divorce decree.

Spouses can draft and file these divorce documents together, or they can use Right Divorce Lawyers to handle the entire process. We learn the terms you both agree to, draft all the documents for your review, file the Joint Petition Divorce documents with the court, and obtain the judge’s final approval. The entire process takes about three weeks and costs as low as $300.

An uncontested divorce, or amicable divorce, is the quickest and least expensive way to get divorced in Las Vegas.

Uncontested Divorce vs. Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is a divorce proceeding where spouses do agree to all the terms of their divorce. They may disagree about spousal support, distribution of community property, or issues regarding the children, like child custody or child support. If they are unable to agree, one spouse can initiate a contested divorce by filing a Complaint for Divorce with the court.

The purpose of the contested divorce is to have a judge decide any issues the spouses cannot agree on. However, a contested divorce will take longer and is more expensive than an uncontested divorce because it requires hearings, gathering of evidence, and potentially a divorce trial. Because contested divorces require hearings, parties are typically represented by divorce attorneys.

What are the Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce?

The first requirement is the court must have jurisdiction [ NRS § 125.181(1).] This means at least the husband or wife has lived Nevada for at least 6 weeks before they filed their divorce in Las Vegas. If they have children, the children must have lived in Nevada for 6 months[ NRS § 125A.305.].

The second requirement is the Parties must agree to all the following terms[ NRS § 125.181(3)-(5).]:

  • Division of community property. Property and debts acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property and thus belongs to both spouses[ Pryor v. Pryor, 734 P.2d 718 (Nev. 1987).] Both husband and wife must indicate who will receive what. This involves allocating debt, vehicles, houses and other real estate, pensions, and bank accounts. Even if the property or debt is only under one spouse’s name, it must be allocated and accounted for in the divorce.
  • Spousal Support. If this is a long-term marriage, and one spouse earned the ability to earn more income than the other spouse, spousal support might be fair.  If so, the spouses would indicate who will pay and how much or if they are giving up their right to alimony.
  • Child Custody.  The spouses provide a detailed custodial schedule for any minor children born during marriage. The court will not accept any vague language like “we will decide” or “it will be up to the child.” The schedule must be clear in case it needs to be enforced in the future. It is typical to include holiday and vacation schedules as well.
  • Child Support.  The court requires terms regarding child support.  The spouses may calculate child support, which can be done using a child support worksheet or an online child support calculator. The spouses are also able to agree to a different amount but must include this in their non-contested divorce documents.

If even one of these terms is not agreed upon, the parties must file a contested divorce. For example, if you agree to everything…except “who will keep the house,” an uncontested divorce cannot be filed. Remember, you must agree to all terms before filing an uncontested divorce.

What is the process for Filing an Joint Petition Divorce?

To file a divorce together you must fill out and file the following four forms:

  • Family Court Cover Sheet. It asks for basic information about you, your spouse, and any children that you and your spouse have together. The Clark County Family Court uses this information to open your case.
  • Affidavit of Resident Witness. This document is to show the Court it has jurisdiction over your divorce. It is proof one of the spouses has lived in Nevada for at least 6 weeks before filing for divorce. This form should be filled out by a friend, coworker, or family member who sees you 3-4 times per week.
  • Joint Petition for Divorce. This document tells the judge what you and your spouse agreed to regarding custody, child support, division of property and debts, alimony, and whether either spouse will return to a former name. This form must be notarized! A husband and wife can sign separately in front of different notaries, which is common for spouses who live in separate states.
  • Confidential Information Sheet. This form discloses both spouses’ social security numbers and helps parents with child support enforcement in the future if needed. This document will be filed under seal and not viewable by the public, so your information is protected.

Your documentation must be filed into the case, so it becomes part of the case record and viewable to the Court. The Court cannot consider documents that are not filed into the case. You can file the document electronically or in person at the Clark County Family Court.

After filing those four documents, you SUBMIT (not file) a proposed Decree of Divorce. The Decree MUST contain a FILE STAMPED copy of your Joint Petition because it incorporates the terms of your joint petition.

A file stamped copy is a copy of your joint petition that contains a “timestamp” of when it was filed; you may obtain this from the court. The judge will sign the Decree of Divorce when your divorce is approved. This Decree will not be filed into your case like the other four documents. The Decree must be emailed to the judge assigned to your case for the judge’s consideration.

The court charges $299 to file an uncontested divorce.  You can pay by cash, money order, or most major credit/debit cards. If you cannot afford the fee, you may qualify for a fee waiver.  To apply for a fee waiver, you must file an Application to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (fancy name for a fee waiver request) demonstrating your need and submit your proposed order granting the fee waiver to your assigned department.

What are the Benefits of a Non-Contested Divorce?

It is the quickest divorce you can get! On average, the judge will sign your divorce Decree (the actual legal document that will terminate your marriage) in two to three weeks. Sometimes, even sooner.

It is the cheapest divorce you can get! The filing fee is around $300.   If you are using Right Lawyers, the cost is around $1,200.  A paralegal may charge less but you may get what you paid for because they are not uncontested divorce attorneys.

What are the Downsides to filing an Uncontested Divorce yourself?

The court process can be confusing and difficult to navigate…that’s why attorneys went through years and years of school. If you choose to proceed without an attorney, you are responsible for learning about the e-filing system, filing your own documentation, and keeping track of your case.

If the Court requires additional information, you are responsible for responding in a timely manner. Going through a divorce can be stressful and anxiety-inducing and representing yourself can make it worse.

Even when spouses agree to their divorce terms, they may not know exactly how to spell out these terms in the divorce agreement correctly. The terms may not be specific enough, leading to issues in the future.

For instance, you may agree that Wife will keep the marital home after refinancing it, but, if the Joint Petition does not have a refinance date, further litigation may occur. The wife could argue that she had two years while husband thought she only had six months. This sort of thing will require the spouses to return to court. Uncontested divorce attorneys can solve this issue.

You CANNOT appeal a joint petition once it has been signed by the judge [ NRS § 125.181(6).].   This means you cannot challenge the validity of your joint petition before a higher court of this state, so you must be 100% certain of the terms you are agreeing to. However, you can revoke the joint petition before the judge signs the documents by filing a notice with the Court [ NRS § 125.183.].

Do You Need a Lawyer to File an Uncontested Divorce?

No.  In fact, many amicable divorce cases (divorce, custody, etc.) involve at least one self-represented spouse. The bottom line is you don’t need a divorce lawyer to file a joint petition any more than you need a CPA to file tax returns. However, you must know what you are doing, or they both could be filed wrong!

No. Filing together for a legal separation (or separate maintenance) requires the completion of five documents. Just like an uncontested divorce. A legal separation case addresses the same issues involved in an uncontested divorce, except the parties do not actually get divorced! The parties will have final custody orders, support orders, and community property and debts will be divided.  But the parties will still be legally married at the end of the case.

Common reasons that people may seek a legal separation instead of a divorce are: religious reasons, not emotionally ready to go through a divorce, or to keep medical benefits. A legal separation does not stop either spouse from asking for a divorce in the future.  However, a new divorce case may need to be filed.

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?

Once your assigned department receives your documentation, the judge must review it and sign your Decree. On average, it will take three weeks for the judge to sign your divorce decree…sometimes less! If the court requires additional documentation, or wants to set a hearing, your timeline will change.  But all this will still be faster than a contested divorce, which could take up to a year to be finalized.

How much does an uncontested divorce cost?

The court filing fee is around $300, plus, whatever you spend on notarizing your signatures. If you are using Right Lawyers, the cost is around $1,200 and we take care of everything.  We even pay your filing fee.

Can You File an Uncontested Divorce With a Child?

Yes, both parents can agree to ALL terms regarding the child. You must agree to legal custody (who will have decision-making ability over the child), physical custody (what days the child will be with each parent), child support, and who will pay for medical insurance for the child. If you disagree to any of these terms, a joint petition for divorce cannot be filed. Remember, you  must agree to all terms before filing an uncontested divorce!

Does an Uncontested Divorce Go Before a Judge?

Sometimes! Whether or not your uncontested divorce will require a hearing is dependent on the complexity of your divorce terms (is there a lot of property? will the child be relocating out of state with one of the spouses?) and how your documentation was completed. The judge may want to ask either spouse questions on the record before signing the Decree.  This is not typical but can happen.

Can an Uncontested Divorce Become Contested?

If either party changes their mind after filing the paperwork but before the Judge signs the Decree (the legal document that terminates your marriage), that spouse may revoke the joint petition by filing a “Notice of Revocation” with the Court [ NRS § 125.183.]. This notice will also have to be sent to the other party. That spouse will have to start a new case by filing a complaint for divorce against the other spouse and pay another fee.

Once the judge signs the Divorce Decree, the uncontested divorce is final. However, there are other ways to “set aside” the decree because of fraud or mistake, but this will require filing a motion (a legal document telling the judge what you want) and presenting evidence in support of your argument [ NRCP 60.].

How Does an Uncontested Divorce Work?

Husband and Wife will complete the required documents, file the required documentation with the Court themselves or with the help of an attorney and submit the decree to the assigned department. After the documents are received by the court, you must wait for the judge to review your documentation and sign your divorce decree. Once your divorce decree is signed, you are divorced. The entire process will take, on average, three weeks.

Can One Spouse File for an Uncontested Divorce?

No. Both Husband and Wife must agree to the terms together. This is why uncontested divorces are initiated by filing a JOINT petition because Husband and Wife are requesting the divorce together.

Are Joint Petitions Quicker Than a Contested Divorce?

Yes! Once your judge receives your notarized Joint Petition for Divorce, it will take three weeks, on average, for the judge to sign your divorce decree.

A contested divorce takes longer because, once the complaint is filed, the answering spouse has 21 days to file an answer. Then, the court will set the matter for a case management conference (a type of hearing) which is typically set forty-five days out. If the parties still do not reach an agreement on all terms at the case management conference, the Court will likely set the matter for trial. Departments typically set trials six months out. After the trial, you must wait for the judge to sign the final order, which mat also take several weeks.

Yes! The process is almost identical to the process of an uncontested divorce.

Can you file an uncontested child custody case?

Yes, but only if Mom and Dad agree to ALL terms regarding the child before filing with the Court. Mom and Dad must agree to legal custody (who will have decision making ability over the child), physical custody (which days the child will be with each parent), child support, and who will pay for medical insurance for the child. If Mom and Dad disagree on any of these, an uncontested custody case cannot be filed. Either parent would start a contested child custody case by filing a complaint.

What if my spouse and I don’t agree?

If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, you will need to pursue other options such as a contested divorce or default divorce. You will still address the same issues, but it will take longer.

Is a Non-Contested Divorce the Same as a Default Divorce?

No. An uncontested divorce is a divorce proceeding where Husband and Wife agree to all the terms of their divorce before filing a case with the Court together. Husband and Wife will work together to complete the paperwork.

A default divorce occurs when a spouse fails to respond to the other spouse’s complaint for divorce. This typically occurs when the responding spouse cannot be found or chooses not to respond. This type of divorce will address the same issues but may take longer because there are additional steps.

Can We Use One Divorce Attorney to File?

While not required, it’s recommended that both spouses have their own attorney.   The joint petition process, when assisted by a singular attorney, may give the appearance that the attorney is representing both parties.

What If My Spouse Changes Their Mind After Filing?

If either party changes their mind after filing but before the Judge signs the Decree, that spouse may revoke the joint petition. That spouse will have to start a new case by filing a complaint against the other spouse and pay the filing fee.

Once the Judge signs the Divorce Decree, the uncontested divorce is final, meaning you cannot change your mind. This is why many spouses use an attorney for the process.

What If I Don’t Know Where My Spouse Lives?

You must do everything you can to locate your spouse and have them served in person.  However, if your spouse is avoiding service or cannot be found, you have two options:

If you can contact your spouse but don’t have an address, you can ask the judge for permission to serve by alternate means, such as through email, social media, by texting the documents, etc.  If the judge allows you to serve by alternate service, you will have to send the documents through every method the judge identifies on the order. This process requires you to fill out and file two documents: an Ex Parte Request to Serve by Alternate Means and an Affidavit of Due Diligence. Then, you must submit your proposed order to your department’s inbox.

If you cannot find your spouse at all, you can ask the Court for permission to publish the summons in a newspaper instead. This is called service by publication. You may also have to mail the documents to a last known address. This process requires you to fill out and file two documents: an Ex Parte Motion for Publication and an Affidavit of Due Diligence. Then, you must submit your proposed order to your department’s inbox.

This situation is common when spouses have been physically separated for many years.

Will the Judge Deny Our Joint Petition?

Although a judge will not flat-out deny your joint petition, the Judge may need more information from you and your spouse before signing the Decree. The Judge may set your case for an uncontested hearing [ EDCR 5.701]. This is a non-adversarial hearing (meaning it is not husband versus wife) where the Judge will ask you and your spouse questions on the record. The Judge may want to know more information on your incomes or clarify ambiguity in your documentation. The Judge may also ask you and your spouse to file additional documentation. This does not make your divorce CONTESTED. Any hearings held or documentation submitted is in support of the joint petition you filed together.

Can I Get Child Support Or Spousal Support in a Joint Petition?

Yes! Spousal support MUST be addressed in a joint petition. If you have children, child support MUST be addressed, as well. You and your spouse may agree to zero child or spousal support, but it must be addressed.

Is a Joint Petition The Same as an Online Divorce?

It is the same “type” of divorce, but online divorce websites charge you a fee and only provide you the forms. Parties must still file the documentation with the Court and are responsible for keeping track of their case.

Is a Joint Petition The Same as a Quick Divorce?

Yes! Uncontested divorces, which are started by filing a joint petition, are typically referred to as a “quick divorce” due to the short time period it takes for the process to be complete. On average, it takes three weeks for the Judge to sign your divorce decree (the legal document that actually ends your marriage).

How to Bring Up the Subject of an Uncontested Divorce?

Be patient and considerate above all. If you and your spouse have decided to get divorced, but are unsure if a contested or uncontested divorce is right for you, it may be beneficial to highlight the pros of an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces are faster and easier than a contested divorce. Uncontested divorces will also create less conflict, which is important during an already difficult time. The faster parties get divorced, the faster they can heal and rebuild.

What if We Cannot Agree on a Custody Schedule?

If you cannot agree on a custody schedule before filing your documentation with the Court, you will have to consider filing a contested divorce or custody case.

What if We Don’t Have Bank Accounts Together?

Any and all bank accounts opened during the marriage are presumptively community property—it does not matter if both names are not on the account. These bank accounts will have to be divided pursuant to the Parties’ agreement in an uncontested divorce or by the Judge in a contested divorce. Other community property assets include:

  1. Real estate.
  2. Personal property, including cars, furniture and artwork.
  3. Income earned.
  4. Retirement accounts, including individual retirement accounts (Roth IRA) contributed to during the marriage.
  5. Debt acquired by either party

These types of community property MUST be allocated in your divorce proceeding, regardless of whose name the asset or debt is under. Otherwise, your divorce may be subject to further litigation in the future.

Can We Use a Mediator For a Joint Petition For Divorce?

Yes! If you and your spouse want to file an uncontested divorce, but are having trouble agreeing to the terms, a mediator can assist. Mediation is an informal, non-binding process in which an impartial third-party attempt to resolve a dispute between two sides. While a mediator will not make decisions for you, they can help spouses reach an agreement, which may be incorporated into your joint petition for divorce. Mediation saves each party the time and expense that accompanies a protracted court battle, allowing them to move on with their lives more quickly. It also saves you the hassle and stress of having to make multiple court appearances. Because the mediation process is less “you versus me”, it can increase the likelihood that the couple will maintain a civil relationship after the divorce process is complete.