Family Law in Nevada
Marathon Law Group handles all aspects of family law including: divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, annulment, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, adoption, step-parent adoption and legal name changes. If you would like to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, please call 702-522-1808.
In family law, you need an experienced attorney who will take the time to listen to your concerns and provide valuable legal advice on your individual situation. We understand this often a difficult and emotional time for you. Further, the connection you develop with your family law attorney is important because you need to feel comfortable sharing information so that your attorney can advise you on the best steps to ensure a favorable outcome on your case. Every family law case is unique and we will take the time to assist you with all of your family law needs.
Nevada is a no-fault state, which means that either party can file for divorce based upon incompatibility. No proof is necessary as to the reasons for divorce. Nevada is also a community property state, which means that property acquired during the marriage should be equally divided, absent a compelling reason otherwise. One example of a reason that the court might divide property in an unequal manner is community waste. Community waste claims can be difficult to prove, but if you believe your spouse has wasted community property you should discuss this with your attorney. Property inherited during the marriage, gifts made to you during marriage and personal injury awards remain your separate property as long the property was kept in a separate, not joint account. Debts that were acquired during the marriage are also community. If a settlement cannot be reached, the court will hold a trial to resolve property and debts of the marriage.
If you and your spouse have minor children, the court requires a custody schedule and child support amount to resolve the case. If you cannot agree upon a custody schedule, you will be ordered to attend mediation at the Family Medication Center. After mediation, if you have not agreed upon a custody schedule, the court will schedule an Evidentiary Hearing to make a determination on custody.
Child Custody and Paternity
Nevada law favors joint custody of children. NRS 125C.0015 provides that parents have joint legal and joint physical custody, regardless of marital status, until there is a court order. If you believe the other parent should not have joint custody, you will need to seek an order from the court. If you withhold custody from the other parent, without cause, this can severely affect your custody rights. Further, the custody schedule you adopt after separation will be considered by the court. When possible, you should follow a temporary custody schedule to help your children adjust to the separation.
If either parent questions paternity, then a paternity action should be filed. Once paternity is confirmed through testing, the case will proceed the same as a custody case. One of the major differences between a paternity and custody case is that paternity cases are automatically sealed from public view.
In most cases, the parents will share joint legal custody and make decisions together regarding their children’s health, education and welfare. For physical custody, Nevada law starts with joint physical custody unless one of the parents can prove that joint physical custody is not in the child’s best interest. There are many myths surrounding joint physical custody, such as that the parties must have equal time with the children. One example of a joint physical custody schedule is where one parent has three days of the week and the other parent has the remaining four days. An experienced family law attorney can guide you towards the schedule that will work best for your children’s ages and both parent’s work schedules. If you and the other parent cannot reach an agreement on custody, you will be required to attend mediation at the Family Mediation Center. If an agreement is not reached in mediation, the Court will schedule an Evidentiary Hearing to decide on custody.
On February 1, 2020, Nevada adopted a new child support law, NAC 425. The new law changes the percentages for child support amounts and eliminated the child support caps. When parents share joint physical custody, child support is calculated using each party’s income in a percentage related to the number of children. If one parent has primary physical custody, then only the other parent’s income is used to calculate child support.
With the new child support law, you can still stipulate to waive child support, increase support or decrease support. However, you should obtain advice from an attorney regarding the child support amounts prior to making any decision to waive or decrease child support. In addition, the order must state which parent is providing health insurance for the child. In Nevada ,the parents generally split the cost for the child’s health insurance.
If you have an existing child support order under the old law, your child support will not be automatically modified to new law. Your child support will be modified pursuant to NAC 425 only when it is time for a three year review, there has been a 20% change in income or custody is modified. If you have experienced loss of a job, decrease in income, or increase in income, you should consult an attorney to find out how this affects your child support obligation under the new law.
It is very important to seek advice if your income has decreased or you lost your job because child support cannot be modified retroactively. This means, if you are unemployed now, regular child support still applies until you file a motion to modify support, or both sides agree to reduced support in a Stipulation and Order. Verbal agreements for child support modifications are not enforceable by the Court and should not be relied upon.
If you were married in Nevada, you do not need to be a current resident to seek an annulment but you must have grounds for an annulment. If you are seeking an annulment, you need to prove there was fraud, want of understanding, one person was already married, lack of parental consent for spouses between 16 to 18 years old, or the parties are related closer than second cousins of the half-blood. If you are seeking an annulment for any reasons you should discuss your case with an attorney. When an annulment is granted, then legally it is as though the marriage never happened. In the event your case does not qualify for annulment you can still file for divorce if one of the parties is a Nevada resident for 6 weeks prior to the filing of the Complaint.
Prenuptial/Premarital Agreements and Postnuptial Agreements
When considering a premarital/prenuptial agreement, you should seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney. There are many requirements to ensure that the agreement is enforceable. For example, the agreement must be executed voluntarily and the parties should fully disclose their assets prior to the execution. The premarital agreement must not be unconscionable and could be deemed unenforceable if it is vastly unfair to one of the parties. Each party should have their own attorney to advise them on the agreement. The premarital agreement should be negotiated and signed prior to the wedding date. If the premarital agreement is signed too close to the wedding date, one side could later claim duress.
For spouses who chose not to have a premarital agreement, but later want a contract to determine terms in case of divorce, we suggest a postnuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement is for parties who are not contemplating divorce at the time the agreement is prepared. For spouses who intend to file for divorce, they should resolve issues through a Marital Settlement Agreement.
Adoption and Stepparent Adoption
When you adopt a child, the biological parents lose all custody rights to a child and no longer have any financial obligations to the child. For an adoption, the biological parents must consent to the adoption in writing or must have their rights terminated by a court. There is a separate process for Termination of Parental Rights, which must be completed prior to an adoption if there is no consent. There are many steps to a non-relative adoption and you will need an attorney to guide you through these steps and ensure the adoption is completed as soon as possible. All adoptions require a hearing before the Judge and this is one of the best reasons to have to go to Court.
Stepparent adoption is a slightly easier process. In this case, the stepparent’s spouse (parent of child) and stepparent file the Petition together. The other parent must consent to the adoption or a Termination of Parental Rights must be completed prior. When a parent’s rights are terminated, they no longer have a child support obligation. Children over age 14 must consent to the adoption and the child’s name can be changed through the adoption.
Nevada also permits adult adoption. For an adult adoption, the person adopting the adult must be older than the person being adopted. In addition, if any party to the adoption is married, their spouse must consent to the adoption. There is no need for biological parents to consent to an adult adoption, but the Judge may require you to provide notice to the parents of the adoption hearing.
Legal Name Changes
If you changed your name during marriage and want to return to your former name, the name you want to return to must be included in your Decree of Divorce. Further, children’s names can be changed during an adoption.
For name changes that are not due to marriage, as an adult you have to meet certain requirements which include disclosing any felony convictions and publishing a notice in a newspaper. Our attorneys can make this an easy process for you.
A child’s name change requires the consent of both parents unless one parent is deceased or their rights have been terminated. A child over the age of 14 must also consent to the name change. Once a name change has been approved and ordered by the Court, you will have to change your name with various government agencies.