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Child support involves minimal conflict because of NRS 125B that imposes a presumptive amount of child support based on the gross income of the payor parent.  Under NRS 125.150, community property must be divided equally absent a compelling reason.  Then, there is alimony.  There is no generally accepted formula for an alimony award and the Nevada Supreme Court has expressly discouraged the use of formulas for alimony.


Every judge views alimony differently and each judge’s award can be drastically different.  The same judge, with similar facts, on a different day, could award a different alimony award.  How does this serve anyone’s best interests?  With more than 20 different family court judges, it is difficult for even the seasoned divorce lawyer to advise his or her client as to what alimony will be.  When negotiating alimony, counsel have no clear guidelines.  When you take an alimony issue to trial, you are playing Russian Roulette.


Although alimony can be difficult to predict, you must insist that your attorney give you a clear, written estimate of what your alimony award or obligation may be, before spending thousands of dollars having a judge determine the amount.



Premarital Background Checks


While prenuptial, or premarital agreements, have been popular for years, private investigators are increasingly performing background checks on prospective spouses.  Investigators around the country report that their business has boomed with people wanting to confirm whether their prospective spouse has any “deal-breaking habits and secrets.”


The new trend is driven by the increase of online dating and online relationships.  While many have income or assets to protect, many simply want to make sure that they are getting involved with someone legitimate and not any type of scam.  Costs will range depending on how in depth an investigation is sought, but an individual can sometimes learn a significant amount of information just by googling a person.  Investigators may find nothing, but in some cases find “undisclosed debt, criminal convictions, hidden addictions and infidelity.”


If a relationship is based on trust, what does a background check say about the relationship itself.  A background check can be particularly problematic if the person being investigated finds out.  For many, however, “better safe than sorry.”



Can a Family Court Judge Make Divorcing Spouses file a Joint Tax Return?


Under Nevada law the family court has the authority to make an equitable disposition of the community property of the parties.  When making an equitable distribution of the parties’ community property, the trial court must consider the tax consequences of the property division.  In doing so, the court should consider the benefit each party receives from the yearly marital income, as well as the tax liability the income creates.  When dividing community property, “trial courts must consider tax consequences when, as in the case at hand, there is proof of an immediate and specific tax liability.”  The court, therefore, likely has the discretion to compel parties to file joint income tax returns when equitable.

While there are no cases on point in Nevada, other jurisdictions are split on the issue.  The majority of states, however, derive the court’s authority to compel parties to file income tax returns jointly from the court’s discretion to consider tax issues when equitably distributing marital property.  These states include Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Ohio.   Those states that deny the court has the authority to compel the parties to file joint income tax returns base their reasoning on the individual’s right to file either jointly or separately under the Internal Revenue Code.  Despite this federal statutory right, most courts believe that the right may be abridged by state courts. Trial courts must be cautioned, however, when deciding to compel parties to execute joint tax returns because of the “potential liability to which the parties would be exposed, and because there generally exists a means by which to compensate the parties for the adverse tax consequences of filing separately.”  When there is a significant financial benefit to filing the tax returns jointly, the court has an obligation to consider the tax implications of its decision.  As a result, the court should have the discretion to compel the parties to file joint tax returns.


When Does an Engagement Ring Have to be Returned?


Often in a divorce action, an engagement will be at dispute.  Sometimes the ring is a family heirloom, and the recipient does not wish to return it.  An engagement ring, however, is a gift to which a condition subsequent, the fulfillment of the marriage agreement, is attached.  As such, upon marriage, the ring unconditionally becomes the property of the recipient and “retains its character as separate property not subject to equitable distribution” if the parties subsequently divorce.  If, however, the parties are never married, the condition subsequent never occurred and the recipient must return the ring.


Although divorce does not often discussed upon marriage, if there is a ring or other family heirloom that is being gifted from one person to another, the parties may wish to memorialize any agreements in writing, whether in the form of a prenuptial agreement, or just a simple writing that states in the even in the event of a divorce, an engagement ring or other heirloom will be returned.



Four Reasons to Get A Second Opinion from Your Divorce Lawyer


A second opinion is meeting with an attorney, other than your current attorney, in order to obtain a different point of view on specific issues of your divorce.  Family law is an art, not a science.   The expense of a second opinion may be invaluable in the following situations:


  1. If you feel uncomfortable with your current lawyer’s experience or skill, it is likely well founded and a second opinion may offer peace of mind.


  1. If your attorney is recommending that you accept or not accept an offer of settlement, a second may help you decide whether to accept the offer of settlement or proceed to trial.


  1. A second opinion may be helpful if you have serious concerns regarding a strategy that your attorney wants to use that you do not feel comfortable with.


  1. If your attorney refuses to put his or her opinions and recommendations in writing because they want to cover his or herself, this could be a red flag that there is a lack of confidence in what you are being told.


Most attorneys will not be offended if you obtain a second opinion and may welcome the second opinion to make you more comfortable with their advice.


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