5 common misconceptions about divorcing in Nevada.
The following are some of the common misconceptions or misunderstandings that I often encounter with clients seeking a divorce:
1. Infidelity matters
Nevada is a no-fault divorce state, meaning your spouse's infidelity generally won't affect how the court will distribute property or award alimony. However, one of the instances where infidelity could be relevant is if your spouse spent community funds on a lover without your consent. In that case, you can argue your spouse committed marital waste for the court to compensate you through a larger community property share.
2. Nevada prefers mothers with custody
Courts in Nevada strongly favor joint custody unless you can convince the court the other parent is truly unfit or harmful to your child. The law was revised in 2015 through Assembly Bill 263 to impose a presumption that both parents share joint legal and physical custody absent a court determination to the contrary. The law change codified the belief that having both parents involved is in a child's best interests. So, if you are seeking sole custody, merely disagreeing with the other parent's habits or parenting choices will likely be insufficient. You would have to show more extreme circumstances such as domestic violence or abandonment.
3. Spouses must agree to divorce
I occasionally encounter individuals who think they cannot divorce if their spouse won't agree to divorce or sign any papers. Remember that you can unilaterally start the process by filing a Complaint for Divorce. Your spouse is then put in the position of either contesting or agreeing to your stated terms, but cannot stop the divorce itself from happening.
4. Maintaining separate bank accounts mean separate property
Community property laws in Nevada dictate that any assets, property, or income acquired during the marriage are community property, meaning each spouse is entitled to a 50% share. Whether you kept funds in separate accounts or property in separate names won't matter. If you acquired that property during the marriage, the law considers it communal. However, if you have truly separate property (e.g. property acquired before the marriage, through inheritance, gifts, or personal injury awards), then you should definitely keep that property separate to avoid arguments of "commingling" with community property.
5. My spouse can take everything from me if we divorce
Sometimes clients are scared to divorce because their spouse threatened to "take everything" from them in the event of a divorce. Remember that Nevada is a community property state, so as stated above, you are entitled to 50% of any property acquired during the marriage. Even if your spouse is the breadwinner and you are a stay-at-home parent, you can still seek half of your community estate and potentially spousal support.