If you’re faced with getting/having a divorce, go slow with the process. If there’s even a remote possibility, you will want to agree to terms before either of you contact an attorney.
Hopefully none of you will have to learn that bit of wisdom the hard way like I did. My first two divorces didn’t go so well. This time I vowed to make it different, and we just presented a fully-drafted joint petition to an attorney for review, 8 months after separating.
My first one didn’t involve money or property, but we spent 8 years in family court battling for custody. The second one spent every dime of cash I could scrape together on attorney fees, and a month before I got married again I fired my attorney and settled in a one hour meeting.
Once you put the process in the hands of the legal system, the attorneys and the court will take it over. The length of the process, the cost, and the final decision won’t be made by either of you. The attorneys will battle and run up thousands of dollars in fees, and either one side will run out of money and make the best bargain they can, or if the judge gets tired of hearing the case they will order a judgment based on whatever appears to be fair to them at that moment.
If both parties are cooperating in the dissolution of the marriage then filing a joint petition might be the better alternative. A joint petition is a relatively simple legal document that contains the terms of the divorce that have been agreed to by both parties. Most joint petitions will include a marital settlement agreement attached as an exhibit.
A joint petition will need to the following items;
- Description of marital debts each party will be responsible to pay
- Description of the assets & personal property that each spouse will take from the marriage
- Determination of whether the spouses will have joint legal custody or primary legal custody of any children
- Determination of whether spouses will have joint primary physical custody of any children
- A children visitation schedule
- Determination if any spouse will pay child support and a monthly amount. The amount should be consistent with Nevada’s child support formula
- Determination if any spouse will be responsible for monthly spousal support
- Statement determining whether the wife is retaining her maiden or married name
A joint petition and other paperwork can be prepared by an attorney and submitted to the court. After which the court may require a “prove-up” hearing. At the hearing the court will review the joint petition and the attached marital settlement agreement and confirm that both parties understand and agree to all the terms included. If the court finds everything in the joint petition is fair and voluntary then the judge will approve and sign the divorce decree.
The joint petition will also need to include the following information;
- The date and location where the marriage took place
- Birth-dates, and addresses of both spouses
- The date the parties separated
- Names and birth-dates of any children born of the marriage
- Whether the wife will retain her married name or her maiden name