Nevada divorce: Dividing assets and debt in a community property state

One of the most important parts of a divorce is the division of assets and debts. Understandably, each spouse wants to retain his or her fair share of the property accumulated during the marriage.

One of the central issues in property division is determining which items are community property - that is, property belonging equally to both spouses - and which items are separate property under Nevada law.

If separate property contributed to improve marital estate, reimbursement may be available

Community property generally consists of all property and debt acquired during the marriage by either spouse. In some states, marital property is equitably distributed upon divorce, meaning that assets and debt are divided in a manner that is deemed fair based on a variety of factors. However, in community property states like Nevada, marital property is typically divided equally, a 50-50 split.

Of course, the parties to a divorce may agree amongst themselves on some property division arrangement that deviates from the 50-50 standard, and even an equal split does not mean tangible assets will be literally carved down the middle. For example, if one of the spouses bought a car during the marriage that is now worth $18,000, each party would be entitled to $9,000 of the value of the car if property was being divided equally. To get there, the car could be sold, with each of the parties receiving half the proceeds, or one party could "buy the other out" by trading their share of value in some other type of property.

An important nuance is when separate property has been used to acquire or improve community property. Items acquired before the marriage are the most common type of separate property. If one spouse has contributed his or her separate property to build more community property, that spouse may be able to convince the court to order reimbursement of the original contribution amount only, without any premium to account for interest or any increase in the value of the property held in joint tenancy.

For example, imagine one spouse had $12,000 in assets in a separate account prior to the marriage. These assets remained untouched until they were withdrawn and comingled with marital funds in order to buy a small business. When the couple later divorces, the business has grown in value to $2 million. The spouse may be entitled to full reimbursement of the original $12,000, but the remaining value of the business is community property.

Talk to a Nevada family law attorney to implement a strategy for your divorce

Even though the standard for property division in Nevada is a 50-50 split, deciding which spouse will get which assets can be a complex undertaking, especially when a business or other complex property is involved. Furthermore, while factors like the length of the marriage and the relative contributions of each spouse to the marital assets might not factor in as much in property division, they do play an important role in determining whether or not alimony will be awarded and, if alimony is awarded, setting the amount and duration.

The best resource for answers to your questions about property division and divorce in general is an experienced Nevada family law attorney. Your lawyer can help you understand what you are likely to receive from the marital estate, implement a strategy for your divorce, and finalize your divorce as quickly and amicably as possible. Get in touch with a Nevada family law attorney today, and get on the path to your new single life.