Don’t Destroy Your Family in Litigation
There are two types of divorce in Nevada: “uncontested” and “contested.”
- “Uncontested” means the parties agree on ALL issues. The pleading is called a Joint Petition.
- “Contested” means they do not agree on ALL issues such as custody, property, debts, or child support.
Can I Get an Uncontested Divorce in Nevada?
A person can get a divorce in Nevada if that has lived in Nevada for at least six weeks prior to filing for divorce and has “grounds” for divorce (incompatibility, insanity for two years prior to the action, or spouses living separate and apart for more than one year). The practical effect of “incompatibility” is that anyone can get divorced simply because they are “incompatible” with their spouse. An uncontested divorce is less expensive, quicker, and usually less stressful because the parties agree. Contested divorces go to court and there is more litigation.
Briefly – What is the Uncontested Divorce (Joint Petition) Process?
- One party meets with their lawyer and advises the client on their rights and duties usually focusing on custody, property division, debt division, and alimony. The lawyer drafts a Joint Petition documents including a decree.
- The other party reviews the Joint Petition with their lawyer. When both are satisfied, they sign the documents.
Why is an Experienced Lawyer Important to My Case?
Family law is full of traps and pitfalls for an attorney inexperienced in family law. Family law is comprised of its own statutes, cases, court rules, and standard operating procedures. In addition, each Judge has their own way of doing things. For example, some Judges will refuse to allow one side to speak in a motion hearing if no opposition was filed while others will allow this. Some Judges allow oral motions while others do not. Some Judges hold that certain “requirements” are binding while others believe they are discretionary. In short, one should want a lawyer experienced in practicing at Family Court on a daily basis.
Can’t I Just Use One of Those “Paralegal” Services for Divorce?
Nevada has no certification or licensing for “paralegals.” Anyone can call themselves a “paralegal.” “Paralegals” cannot give legal advice and cannot represent anyone in court. Remember, a Joint Petition is an important legal document you will have to live with.
Many “independent paralegals” provide standard forms that are used for many different people no matter their circumstances. This would be analogous to a hospital clerk prescribing one medicine for all illnesses. If money is the reason you are considering using a “paralegal,” then be aware that we offer a low price guarantee and payment plans. Also, consider that it usually costs much more to attempt to “fix” a Joint Petition then to do it right in the first place.
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Uncontested Divorce: A More Detailed Look
Divorce, by definition, separates two spouses. This can be stressful, time-consuming, and financially draining. If there are children involved then these factors are compounded.
Typically, in a contested divorce, each side hires a law firm and they aggressively fight each other. This can further compound the stressors. However, there is one way to lessen these factors and that is through an uncontested divorce commonly called a Joint Petition.
The purpose of this NLG Legal Guide is to 1) introduce this concept to you, 2) provide you enough information that you can understand the process, and 3) make comments congruent with “real life” practices in the Family Court. Hopefully, you can then make more informed decisions as you discuss your case with your attorney.
In order to bypass the contested court process you must first agree with your spouse on all issues.
- In addition, you must then meet the requirements of NRS 125.181:
- (1) One of the parties must have met the jurisdictional requirements of NRS 125.020 [often meaning the plaintiff resided 6 weeks in Nevada before filing the suit];
- (2) The parties must be either incompatible or have lived separate and apart for more than one year without cohabitation [usually people file under incompatibility];
- (3) There must be no minor children of the parties and the wife not be pregnant, or the parties must have executed a custody and support agreement [usually a Parenting Agreement is attached];
- (4) Either there must be no community property or the parties must have executed an agreement as to the division of the community property and the assumptions of any debts and have executed any documents necessary to effectuate the agreement [usually a Property Agreement is attached]:
- (5) The parties must have either waived spousal support or have executed an agreement setting forth the amount and manner of spousal support [this would be in the Property Agreement];
- (6) The parties must have waived written notice of entry of judgment, findings of fact, conclusions of law, the right to appeal, and the right to move for a new trial [this language is included in the Decree]; and
- (7) Both parties must both desire a divorce [that would be indicated when each party signs the documents].
Documents & Pleadings
The Joint Petition is the first document filed. NRS 125.182 reflects what must be included:
- (1) A statement that all the conditions listed in NRS 125.181 have been met [this is the list above];
- (2) The facts which support the jurisdictional requirement of NRS 125.020 [usually the 6 week requirement];
- (3) The grounds for the divorce [usually incompatibility];
- (4) The date and the place of the marriage;
- (5) The mailing address of both husband and wife;
- (6) Whether there are minor children or the wife is pregnant;
- (7) Whether the wife wishes to have her maiden name restored, and if she does, the name to be restored.
There must also be an affidavit of residency. However, if there is a “prove up” (a short hearing) then often a resident witness will appear and testify instead of the affidavit of residency.
The following documents comprise an uncontested divorce:
- Joint Petition
- Affidavit of Resident Witness
- Affidavit in Support of Request for Summary Disposition
- Request for Summary Disposition
- COPE Class Certificates (if children)
- Property Settlement Agreement
- Parenting Agreement
Because the uncontested process is so much easier relative to the contested process, some people make the mistake of thinking they can do it without legal representation. The reason this is such an insidious thought is that sometimes people can do it and if they never go back to Court, then no errors are discovered and they suffer no negative consequences. However, for those people who make an error and then go back to Court, they can pay many time the original cost in trying to “fix” something. The smallest thing can turn out to be very large. For example, what if one did their own Joint Petition and termed what should have been a property settlement as (incorrectly) alimony. Then when she got married, the “alimony” went away and she never got her property. This was an actual public case.
So having an attorney is usually recommended. However, most attorneys will not represent both sides. This is because attorneys cannot have a conflict of interest. Most attorneys avoid even the appearance of impropriety. This makes sense because it would be impossible for an attorney to represent both sides i.e., tell them whether the settlement is fair for example. Therefore, it is common for one party to find an attorney to draft the terms the parties came up with and then for the other spouse to have a different lawyer approve the pleadings.
An uncontested divorce is a powerful way to spare your family the stress, time, and money it takes to complete a contested divorce. However, if one must get divorced then there are many reasons to have a contested divorce as well. For example, the other spouse may not agree with you over custody, property, debt, alimony, child support, or any other area. You will have to weigh whether the issues you do not agree about are worth arguing about in Court. This is a very personal decision.
I Want to Speak to an Experienced Attorney Right Now – For Free
If you wish to discuss whether you are best served by a contested divorce or uncontested divorce, please call us so you may speak directly to a divorce lawyer at (702) 476-9629.