Updated on 5/20/2020
As families in the Las Vegas community and around Nevada have dealt with the impact of Covid-19 over the past months, many of the effects of the crisis have been immediately obvious. People are out of work and struggling. Most of our community’s businesses are shut down or operating at a severely limited capacity. Our public schools are closed, with no target date for resuming live instruction. Large gatherings are non-existent, while face masks have become commonplace. We have all seen these things and wondered what the “new normal” will look like when the crisis subsides. But are these changes to public life the most significant impacts of the virus? New studies have prompted some experts to suggest that the largest effect might be much more insidious, and not yet apparent. What these experts are referring to, is a potential skyrocketing in the number of divorces.
First, to give this discussion some context, prior to the Covid-19 crisis it is estimated that the divorce rate in the United States is 40%. The rate of divorce varies from state to state, but invariably Nevada has been near or at the top of the list of states with the highest number of divorces per capital. Currently, there is not yet data available on any increase in the divorce rate in Nevada since the beginning of the spread of Covid-19 (as the shutdown has delayed divorce filings and many other legal proceedings).
However, looking at regions of the world in which the peak of the crisis has already passed can provide a good estimate for the impact we will feel here in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada. For example, lawyers in China estimate that the divorce rate has spiked approximately 25% in the days following the end of their shutdown.1 If we assume a roughly equal increase Nevada’s divorce rate (coupled with the already significant base divorce rate) it is safe to say that thousands of residents of Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno, and other Nevada communities may be filing for divorce in the next few months.
Divorce Law In Nevada: Key Things To Know
At Black & LoBello, we’re committed to offering the expert guidance and advocacy necessary to get our clients through a divorce. Though a divorce can touch almost every aspect of a person’s life, many beginning the divorce process have three primary concerns: What will happen to my property if I get divorced? What will happen to my children if I get divorced? And will I have to pay spousal support (either alimony or palimony) or may I receive support payments?
The following discussion summarizes these issues, but we encourage you to call our office at (702) 869-8801 or email us at Mlounsbury@blacklobello.law to learn more about obtaining assistance from one of our expert attorneys.
Requirements To File For Divorce In Nevada
In order to file for a divorce in Nevada, there are only two simple requirements that must be met. First, one spouse must have lived in Nevada for at least 6 weeks. Second, the spouse filling for divorce must tell the Court that they wish to end the marriage for one of the following three reasons:
(1) because the couple is incompatible;
(2) because the couple has been separated for over one year; or
(3) because the other spouse has been declared legally insane for two years.
Community Property vs Separate Property
Nevada is a community property state. This means that the court will generally regard the property acquired during your marriage as belonging to you and your spouse equally, and will divide it equally upon divorce (provided there is not a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement otherwise). This may sound simple and straightforward, but in reality, it can become exceedingly complicated. For example, you may encounter issues like: Does our home need to be sold so our property can be divided equally (and what if the market is down and we would have to take a loss)? What if some of the community property has sentimental value? What if I contributed more during the marriage? What if I used my time and effort to improve my spouse’s separate property (property acquired before the marriage)? These types of property dispute issues require an experienced lawyer that fight for the outcome you want, rather than just leaving the division of property up to chance.
Alimony & Palimony
Similarly, finding the right lawyer can have huge implications on the decision of the court to award spousal support (either as alimony or palimony) and the amount of those awards, as there is no exact method established for making these decisions in Nevada. Instead of following a formula, the court has the discretion to consider factors like:
- How much each spouse is capable of earning;
- The education and training available to improve the earning potential of each spouse;
- The length of the marriage;
- The amount of separate property each spouse will possess after the divorce;
These are some common and important factors, but this list is not exhaustive and there are many additional factors the court consider in making this decision. It is essential that the attorney you hire to handle your divorce is prepared to argue on your behalf as to each of these factors. Awards of spousal support can be temporary or permanent, so make sure you have the best possible advocate to argue your case, as the ramifications of a poor outcome could impact your life for years or decades to come.
Child Custody & Parenting Arrangements
The custody arrangement for a couple’s children after a divorce is, for many people, the single most important aspect of the process. Money and property can be replaced, a relationship with your child cannot. However, like spousal support, the custody determination is not formulaic. Nevada courts determine which parent will be awarded custody of the children based solely upon the best interests of the child.
But what is in the best interests of the child? There is no single right or wrong answer to this question. Every child, every parent, and thus every custody determination is unique. This means having the right lawyer to fight for your custody rights is of the utmost importance. The court must be convinced (through carefully crafted arguments and mastery of the complex procedures used by our court system) that your child belongs with you.
Finding The Right Family Law Or Divorce Attorney In Las Vegas, Nevada
As this article should have made clear, divorce (and family law in general) in Nevada is complex, and often based simply upon the discretion of the courts rather than clear rules. Because the courts have so much freedom to decide these issues as they please, divorce is perhaps the area of law where it is most important that you hire an effective attorney.
At Black & LoBello, we have three key advantages that make us the right advocates for you to hire during this difficult time. First, we have highly accomplished attorneys that solely specialize in family law and have obtained an encyclopedic knowledge of precedent from previous cases that can be used to sway the court in your favor. Second, our attorneys also have the institutional knowledge required to ensure the best outcome. For example, there are a limited number of family law judges in Las Vegas. Our attorneys will already know the judge presiding over your divorce. This means they’ll know the judge’s personality, sensibilities, legal inclinations, and exactly what arguments can be used to persuade them. Third, we just care more than other law firms and become deeply invested in the matters we work on. We understand that the foundation of our firm is built on obtaining successful outcomes for our client’s. We approach every case with the mindset that if you are not satisfied with the results, then we have failed.
If you’re considering filing for a divorce, currently going through a divorce, or if you just need more information, Black & LoBello is the right choice. Don’t put your future at risk and settle for less. If you live in Las Vegas, Reno, Henderson, or anywhere else in Nevada and you need help, call us today at (702) 869-8801 or email us at Mlounsbury@blacklobello.law and let us fight for you.
During this Stay Home 4 Nevada period, the Governor is encouraging other services, including but not limited to legal, business and management consulting, professional services and insurance services to have employees work remotely. Black & LoBello will remain “on-call” 24/7 to answer your emergency legal concerns at no charge. We know you are concerned but we are here for you.
Remember, this too shall pass. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and be NEVADA STRONG!