This is the next post in a series of articles discussing how Nevada’s divorce laws may impact active-duty military members in Las Vegas. My previous article reviewed how the Clark County Family Court determines whether and how much alimony should be awarded in a divorce proceeding. This evaluation is based on multiple factors, including the current income levels of each party. For service members, this will include payments for housing and subsistence allowances, as well as other military benefits. In this article, I will explain what families with an active-duty member may expect throughout the divorce process in Las Vegas. Special circumstances, such as deployment or other obligations may impact how the case proceeds. If you need assistance, contact my office to speak with an attorney.
Las Vegas divorce proceedings begin by one spouse filing a Complaint in the Clark County Family Court. The person filing the Complaint, the plaintiff in the case, will tell the Court how they wish to resolve issues such as property division, child custody, spousal support, child support, etc. Under normal circumstances, the other spouse (the defendant) is required to respond by filing an Answer and Counterclaim within twenty days after being served with the Complaint. If the responding party does not agree with the proposed resolution in the Complaint, they present their positions in the Counterclaim. The judge will then schedule the various procedural steps required to resolve the open issues, such as hearings, mediation for child custody disputes, parenting classes, etc. In some cases, multiple hearings may be necessary to reach a final decision, which will be memorialized in a Divorce Decree. Failure to file an Answer within the twenty-day deadline may result in the Court entering a default judgment against the defendant.
Military members and their families may face unique challenges in divorce proceedings that civilians do not. For instance, if a service member is stationed overseas at the time a Complaint is filed, they may not be able to be served with the legal documents in the traditional way. Furthermore, active duty personnel may be unable to respond within the twenty-day period or may otherwise be prevented from participating in the legal proceedings. The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act is a federal law that provides members of the armed forces with protections in these situations. For example, a person on active duty may submit a written request for a “stay” of the divorce proceeding, which will postpone the case for at least 90 days. This protects the servicemember from receiving a default judgment in their divorce while they are away. The stay may be extended while the member’s duties interfere with their ability to participate in the proceedings. Other issues unique to military members may include temporary child custody modifications, relocation requests when a parent is deployed or transferred, and the division of military benefits. Depending upon the facts of each situation, the judge may grant expedited hearings or allow a military spouse to attend a hearing electronically if they cannot be physically present. A family lawyer with experience in military divorces can help explain how your circumstances may impact your case.
The divorce process can be emotional and stressful for all parties involved. This is especially true when one or both spouses are members of the armed forces separated by deployments or on active duty. My office has extensive experience representing members of the armed forces and their spouses through the divorce process in Las Vegas, Nevada. If you need assistance, contact my office to schedule a consultation.