This is the next post in a series of articles discussing separate maintenance, or legal separation, in Las Vegas, Nevada. My previous post reviewed the circumstances under which couples may find legal separation preferable to a formal divorce. In some cases, the decision to separate is viewed as an interim step toward a divorce. In others, religious beliefs may prohibit divorces and legal separation provides an option to preserve one’s legal rights without breaching church policies. Some couples legally separate to retain access to health insurance or retirement benefits. Whatever the reason, it is important that residents who are considering a legal separation understand how a separate maintenance agreement will impact them. In this article, I will discuss the legal consequences of legal separation in Nevada. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with an attorney.
The legal ramifications of a separate maintenance agreement are similar in many ways to those in a Nevada divorce
Legal separation is a popular option for many Las Vegas residents. Because Nevada is a state that allows separate maintenance as an alternative to divorce, many people fail to understand the consequences of this choice. Couples sometimes mistakenly believe that the arrangement is somehow less stringent or that they can choose whether or not to comply with the court-ordered terms. Separate maintenance orders issued by the Clark County Family Court are legally binding judgments and are enforceable by both parties. The Court can issue final orders on the same subjects that it may address in a divorce proceeding. These include family issues, such as child custody, visitation, and child support. They also include financial matters, such as property divisions and temporary or permanent spousal support or alimony orders. Similar to a divorce, once a couple is legally separated, the property and debts each person accumulates thereafter are no longer considered community property or shared marital debt. It is important to remember that co-signing for the other person’s debt or buying property together after legally separating can create joint obligations that cannot be resolved by a preexisting separate maintenance agreement.
Failing to comply with the terms of a separate maintenance agreement can have serious consequences for Las Vegas residents
As stated previously, separate maintenance is a legally binding judgment issued by the Court. This means that if either party breaches the terms of the separate maintenance order, the other party can ask the Court for assistance in enforcing it. Individuals should not consider the order to be any less binding simply because it was obtained in connection with a legal separation rather than a divorce. For instance, if a separate maintenance order includes a custody arrangement, child support, or spousal support order, such orders must be followed. The parties should not assume that they can choose whether to follow the orders since they are still technically married. Failure to comply can have serious consequences. The Court may order a judgment to collect arrears in support payments or even hold the noncompliant party in contempt, which may include jail time depending on the circumstances.
The end of a relationship can be stressful and emotional. I work with individuals and families to understand their specific needs and objectives when advising them about legal separation or divorce. I take the time to discuss your specific needs and objectives and customize my advice to your situation. If you need assistance, my office is ready to assist you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a Las Vegas lawyer.