Alimony is a complicated and often contentious element of divorce in Nevada. State law is not clear and specific as to who gets alimony and under what circumstances. While some states have virtually eliminated alimony, or spousal support, it is still common in Nevada, but it is not granted automatically and it is not a given. If you believe you will need alimony, you must ask for it upfront. It is not something you can go back and request later, after the divorce is final. If you are seeking alimony, you will need to request it and show why you should receive it. Each case is unique.
Whether you are seeking alimony or your spouse is seeking alimony from you, divorce attorney Thomas C. Bradley is here to help you reach a resolution that is just and fair and protects your financial interests. Call 775-323-5178 today to schedule an initial consultation. We serve Reno and Sparks, Nevada.
Read more about alimony and spousal support below:
- Types of alimony
- Support during the divorce
- Rehabilitative alimony
- Permanent alimony
- Temporary alimony
- Factors considered in alimony determinations
- Fault is not a factor
- Alimony modification
- No alimony for unmarried couples
There are four types of alimony, or spousal support, in Nevada:
- Temporary maintenance – paid while the divorce is pending
- Rehabilitative alimony – to help the receiving spouse pursue education or training for a job or career
- Temporary alimony – alimony that is set to expire on a certain date or when a certain event occurs
- Permanent alimony – paid until the death of either spouse or remarriage of the recipient
Alimony may be paid in monthly payments or in a lump sum. The courts will typically grant a lump sum payment when the payor is older, in poor health or has a shorter life expectancy than the recipient. The lump sum is to ensure that alimony payments do no stop short if the payor dies while when the recipient would still be relying on them.
Facing divorce when you are financially dependent on your spouse is a terrifying prospect, even if you expect to be awarded alimony when all is said and done, but it does not mean that you will be destitute while the divorce is pending. You can petition the court for temporary maintenance, also referred to as temporary spousal support, which paid by one spouse to the other while the divorce is pending. Temporary spousal support normally terminates when the divorce becomes final. The divorce agreement may include alimony to pick up where temporary maintenance leaves off.
Mr. Bradley can help you petition for temporary spousal support so that you have the financial resources you need while your divorce is pending, rather than trying to get by on your own while awaiting the final outcome. This alone can mean the difference between making bad choices because you are rushing to settle the divorce, and taking the time to negotiate properly or fight through trial for a divorce decree that will be fair and favorable to you now and in the years to come.
Rehabilitative alimony is ordered so that the receiving spouse can support himself or herself. It allows the receiving spouse to get the education or training they need for a job or career. While there is a lot of leeway in other types of alimony, Nevada law is very specific when it comes to how a court decides whether to grant rehabilitative alimony.
When determining rehabilitative alimony the court must consider whether the spouse who is to receive the payments provided financial support to spouse who would pay while that spouse was obtaining job skills or education during the marriage. So, if one spouse put the other one through college and now does not have the skills or education to earn a reasonable living, the court can order that the spouse who is now at an advantage because of the disadvantaged spouse’s contribution reciprocate by paying rehabilitative alimony.
Permanent alimony has no set end date or specific event that would cause the alimony obligation to terminate. It is paid indefinitely. In most cases, it is terminated if the recipient remarries or if either party dies, but there are some exceptions. The court can order termination of permanent alimony under certain circumstances, if requested.
The only difference between permanent and temporary alimony is that temporary alimony ends at a set date or when a specific event occurs. For instance, temporary alimony can be set to terminate after 10 years of payment or if the recipient simply cohabitates rather than remarrying.
Unlike child support, there is no formula for calculating alimony in Nevada. It is not based on a percentage of income or another number. There is no minimum amount of time that you must have been married for alimony to be ordered. Gender is irrelevant. The courts must consider the same factors when determining alimony for men as they do for women. There are certain factors that the courts must consider, but no guidelines on how much weight these factors carry in making the decision. Fault is not one of those factors. Each case is unique, and judges decide on a case-by-case basis.
In Nevada, when determining whether to grant alimony, how much the payments should be and whether it should be temporary or permanent, the courts must consider the following factors:
- Financial condition of each spouse
- Nature and value of the respective property of each spouse
- Contribution of each spouse to any property held by the spouses
- Length of the marriage
- Income, earning capacity, health and age of each spouse
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Career, before the marriage, of the spouse who would receive alimony
- Specialized education or training or the level of marketable skills attained by each spouse during the marriage
- Contribution of either spouse as homemaker
- Award of property granted in the divorce to the spouse who would receive alimony, not including child support
- Physical and mental condition of each spouse as it relates to their financial condition, health and ability to work
In summary, the primary factors that a judge considers in whether to award alimony are:
- The financial condition of each spouse and standard of living during the marriage. This factor examines how much money is available to each spouse following the divorce and includes both separate property and each spouse’s share of community property.
- The duration of marriage. The general rule is that judges are not inclined to award alimony in short-term marriages lasting only one to two years. As the marriage duration increases, judges are more inclined to award alimony generally in the range of one-third to one-half the length of the marriage. When there is a large income disparity and the marriage duration exceeds twenty-five years, many judges consider an award of life-time alimony.
- The income and earning capacity of each spouse. A judge will compare the income of each spouse and if one spouse earns a great deal more than the other spouse, a judge will be more inclined to award alimony. The judge will also examine whether a spouse is intentionally unemployed or working at a job earning far less than he or she could be earning at other jobs. In those situations, a judge is likely to infer what the spouse could be earning as opposed to the souse’s actual earnings.
- The age and health of each spouse. Obviously, the age and the health of each spouse are critical factors in determining the ability to earn income. A spouse may need support because he or she is unable to work or secure employment because of their advanced age or their health problems, both physical and mental. Conversely, a judge will consider the age of the paying spouse and will likely reduce or eliminate alimony payments once the paying spouse reaches the age of retirement, generally 65 years of age.
- The career paths of each spouse. A judge will consider whether one spouse sacrificed his or her career to stay home and raise children or dropped out of college to earn money so the other spouse could continue his or her education and training. A judge may be inclined to award alimony to the spouse who sacrificed his or career for the benefit of the other spouse who obtained an advanced degree such as a doctor or dentist.
The court can also consider other, unspecified factors. You cannot avoid paying alimony simply because you do not want to pay it, but if you truly cannot afford it that will carry weight with the court. If you cannot afford to pay alimony, you will need to prove it. Contact attorney Tom Bradley to find out how we can help. Likewise, when seeking alimony, you need to present strong evidence in your favor. Mr. Bradley will ensure that you present the strongest possible case.
Nevada is a no-fault divorce state and fault will not be considered when determining alimony. It doesn’t matter how bad your spouse’s behavior was during the marriage, you will not be rewarded for your suffering. It just does not work that way and if you try to bring issues such as infidelity into the argument, the judge will frown on it.
Community waste is the one exception. If your spouse squandered community property, you may be able to prove community waste. So a spouse who spends large amounts of money on a boyfriend or girlfriend may be penalized. Likewise, if they lost a significant amount of the marital money, not their separate property, to gambling or squandered the money to intentionally keep you from getting it.
In most cases, community waste is settled in property division, but if there was not enough property to compensate you, it could result in a higher alimony award.
When there is a significant change in either spouse’s income, you can petition the court for alimony modification. A significant change is an increase or decrease of 20% or more. Either spouse can request a modification. The paying spouse can ask to pay less, based on a decrease in their income or an increase in the receiving spouse’s income or the receiving spouse can ask for higher payment due to a decrease in their income or an increase in the paying spouse’s income.
If you are the paying spouse, you can also petition to have alimony terminated if your ex is cohabitating and they are being supported financially by the person they are living with. This applies in situations where the person they are living with is a romantic partner who is their need for financial support, not just a roommate who is paying a portion of rent and other bills.
Also worth noting, you cannot go back years after your divorce and ask for alimony if you did not request or were not granted alimony in the first place.
When unmarried couples separate, in Nevada, alimony or similar support is not available. This can come as a shock to some, as there are states that will grant support in these situations, often referred to as “palimony”. Nevada is not a common law marriage state, either. You cannot form a common law marriage in Nevada, not matter how long you live together or if you have children. However, if you have formed a legally binding common-law marriage in a state that allows it, and you can prove it, Nevada will treat it as a formal marriage and your divorce will go on as any other, and alimony is then an option.
Schedule Your Alimony Consultation Today
If you are considering seeking alimony or are afraid it may be sought from you in Reno or Sparks, Nevada, please call The Law Office of Thomas C. Bradley at 775-323-5178 or contact us online to schedule your initial consultation.