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Can we file paperwork ourselves?

One of the common questions asked by people who are either involved in litigation or anticipate they will be involved in litigation is “Can we file the paperwork ourselves?” The short answer to that question is YES.   It is not, however, recommended unless your divorce does not involve any property or children.

Filing the paperwork yourself may seem like the most cost-effective way to get divorced. Although it might save you some money at the beginning, it could potentially end up costing you more money later. Hiring the right attorney can be crucial to the outcome of your case. Lawyers are specifically trained in the law and litigation can be stressful and emotional for the parties involved.  This makes it even more important, in most cases, to have a qualified and objection lawyer representing your interests.

How do we handle the house/bills?

After spending most of a marriage in a home together, people often find themselves uncertain about their living situation post-divorce. If the home was purchased during marriage, it is presumptively community property under Nevada law. As a result, there are a couple options regarding what can be done with the home. The outcome depends on whether the parties are able to reach an agreement regarding the home or the case proceeds to a contested trial.

For example, if a husband and wife can agree that the wife should receive the house upon divorce, then the wife would likely buy the husband out based on the equity in the home at that time. An appraisal would need to be done to determine the accurate value so the parties could ascertain the buy-out amount. If, however, the husband and wife are not able to agree and the matter proceeds to a trial, the court would likely order that the home be sold and any equity be split between the parties.

As for the bills, whoever receives the house would likely be responsible for the house bills. Those bills might include the mortgage, HOA fees, power, water, and any other bills associated with the house. Because of the large financial burdens that come with “getting the house,” spouses who are unable to afford the house are less likely to receive the house in a divorce. In that type of situation, it would likely be best for that spouse to either take the buy-out or push for the house to be sold and the equity split.

Who pays the bills during the divorce?

There is no doubt, divorces can get ugly. Disgruntled spouses have been known to cancel memberships, cell phones, insurance, and more. A disgruntled spouse might get away with this initially but once the court is involved, the court will usually do its best to maintain the status quo

For example, if the wife was always the breadwinner and paid the bills while the husband was a house-husband, the court will likely order that the wife continue to pay all the bills she paid throughout marriage during the divorce proceeding. Similarly, if the husband provided the sole income for the family while the wife managed the bills and the home, the court will likely order that the husband continue to provide for the family as he did during marriage, and allow the wife to continue to manage the bills and the home.

Unfortunately, this arrangement can only last for so long. Eventually, the unemployed spouse will most likely have to get a job and become self-supportive. This can come as a shock sometimes but with a little determination, that spouse will adjust and find that being self-supportive is a confidence-booster.

Do judges prefer mothers?

Nevada law specifically prohibits judges from granting a parent primary physical custody because that parent is the “mother” or “father.” The law is blind in that regard, so both parents enter a custody dispute as equals with the presumption that joint physical custody is in the children’s best interest. Nevertheless, there are other considerations that warrant a court’s award of primary physical custody to one parent. Interestingly, those considerations can appear to the non-custodial spouse as though the court chose the other parent to be the primary custodian because that parent was the “mother” or “father.

For example, imagine a mother whose sole role during marriage was to raise the children. The mother cooked all of children’s meals, woke them up and tucked them in at night, did all their laundry, transported them to and from school, and helped them with their homework. The father, on the other hand, did not participate in raising the children at all. The father went to work first thing in the morning, stopped by the bar after work, and came home late at night, drunk and angry. At trial, the evidence might show that the father is not loving with his children, he does not know anything about his children, his children are afraid of him, and his work schedule prevents him from having joint physical custody of the children. As a result of the evidence, the court grants the mother primary physical custody of the children with the father having specified visitation. The court’s order might appear as though it favors the mother because she is the “mother.” However, it was not the fact that the mother was the “mother” that caused the court to award her custody, it was all the other facts that overcame the presumption that joint physical custody was in the children’s best interest.


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