We get many inquiries from outside of Nevada asking: “Can I get a “quickie” Nevada divorce?” The answer to that question depends upon how you define the word “quick.”
To obtain a divorce in Nevada, you must become a Nevada resident by living here a minimum of six weeks. Residence requires your physical presence in this State for that entire length of time. Once you have lived here six full weeks, you may file a Complaint for Divorce. To obtain the divorce, you must swear under penalty of perjury that it has been your intent to make Nevada your home, residence and domicile for an indefinite period of time.
How fast things progress depends upon the cooperation of your spouse. First, he/she must be served with the divorce papers. If served personally with process, he/she will have twenty days to file a responsive pleading in Nevada. If he/she does not, a default divorce may then be obtained. If your spouse chooses to contest the divorce, the matter may take several months or more.
If your spouse cannot be served personally, then service of process may be made by publication. That means that the summons will be published in the newspaper once a week for four weeks and a copy mailed to your spouse. Upon completion of publication, he/she will then have twenty days to file a responsive pleading. If a responsive pleading is not filed, a default divorce may then be obtained. However, if your spouse responds, the matter will become contested and may take several months or more.
If your spouse agrees to the divorce and is willing to file a document with the court consenting to Nevada jurisdiction and to entry of a decree of divorce, the divorce may be granted fairly quickly. Ideally, before you make the commitment to move to Nevada, you and your spouse should be in accord and have the issues of your marriage resolved by agreement.
Many problems may arise when someone comes to Nevada for a “fast and simple” divorce. For example, unless your spouse personally appears in the Nevada divorce action, the only relief the court may grant is a decree of divorce. Property division, support obligations, child custody, visitation and child support matters must be litigated in the state having personal jurisdiction over both parties.
You may wind up spending a significant amount of money fighting over which state gets to grant the divorce before you ever even get to the merits of your case. This situation may arise where you file for divorce in one state and your spouse files in another. At the conclusion of the fight over jurisdiction, you then face the costs of litigating the property, support and custody issues of your case; another expensive proposition.
Your spouse may choose to ignore the Nevada action, allowing you to obtain a divorce by default but then may attack the Nevada divorce when you attempt to enforce it in another state. If you do not carefully meet the requirements of Nevada residency, you run the risk that another state will not recognize your decree of divorce and will treat it as a nullity.
Under the U.S. Constitution, one state must enforce the judgments (including judgments of divorce) of a court of another state. However, the second state has the right to inquire as to whether the first state had jurisdiction to enter a judgment in the first place. If a person comes to Nevada and lives out of suitcase in a motel for six weeks, files for divorce and immediately goes back “home” to his/her job and life, can it truly be said he/she validly became a Nevada resident? If that were you, could you, in good faith, swear under oath that you intended to make Nevada your home, residence and domicile for an indefinite period of time?
If that Nevada decree is challenged in another state, the court in that state may determine that since you left Nevada immediately at the conclusion of six weeks, you did not validly establish residency. Without genuine residency, the Nevada court would not have jurisdiction to grant a divorce. Thus, your Nevada decree could be held invalid by a court in a state having jurisdiction over both you and your spouse. What if you remarry, only to have your divorce set aside later in another state?
If your are willing to do it right, you may move to Nevada and be divorced here. Before coming here, though, make sure you are willing to make that commitment and are ready to face the special problems which may arise.