On television and in the movies, you’ve probably heard bitter spouses
say something to the effect of, “If we divorce, I’ll take
you for all you have,” or “You’ll end up with nothing!”
But are these threats actually true and applicable to real-life divorces?
Not exactly. Nevada, like our neighbor California, is a community property,
no-fault divorce state. What does this mean to married couples on the
brink of divorce? It means that in Nevada divorces, all marital property
is subject to a 50/50 split, regardless of which spouses earned the money,
and regardless of whose name is on the title.
In a Nevada
divorce, the first step is to determine what is marital property and what is separate
property. Generally, marital property is all
property acquired during the marriage, whereas separate property refers to the
- Personal injury awards in one spouse’s name.
- Gifts and inheritances in one spouse’s name alone.
- Property acquired before the marriage took place.
So, if a Las Vegas native had owned his 1969 Oldsmobile 442 for years before
the marriage, it would still be counted as “his” when the
couple divorces. If a wife bought a condo near the Strip before meeting
her husband and she still had it when they filed for divorce, the condo
would be considered
her separate property. Also, any money that the wife received in rental income
on her property would also be considered
her separate property.
Debts must be considered as well. The court will have to assign the debts
to one spouse or another and they do this be examining who acquired the
debt, when, and why. As far as joint debts (debts with both names on the
loan), such as credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages, the spouses must
understand that even though a debt is assigned to their spouse, as long
as their name is on it they can be held liable for the debt if their spouse
later refuses to pay it, or can no longer afford to pay it.
In light of the above, when you get divorced, it’s best to walk away
without having any lingering joint debts if at all possible. For example,
if your spouse is going to keep the house, he or she should take out a
mortgage in their name alone. If they cannot qualify for a loan because
their income is too low, you may be better off selling the house and splitting
the proceeds. Not only that, but if your name is still on a mortgage,
it can make it difficult, if not impossible for you to qualify for a new
home loan for yourself.
Marital Settlement Agreements
“Do I have to follow Nevada’s community property laws?”
No, not necessarily. If you and your spouse can reach a fair agreement,
the courts do not need to get involved and you can agree to almost any
settlement you want, as long as it’s fair. We highly recommend
collaborative divorces where spouses hash things out until they reach a divorce settlement. In
a collaborative divorce, the spouses would sign a marital settlement agreement,
which would be forwarded to the judge, signed off, and put into a court order.
For more information regarding marital settlement agreements,
contact our firm today to schedule a consultation with a Las Vegas divorce lawyer.