Alimony in Nevada

Alimony (often known as spousal support or spousal maintenance) is alive and well in Nevada. Unlike other states, there is no statutory formula for calculating alimony in Nevada – meaning its all up to the discretion of the judge and represents a huge fee generating opportunity for lawyers.

There was an attempt to devise a alimony formula in 1997 (known as the Tonopah formula). The formula takes into account the marriage duration and lower earning spouse’s education, disability status, and age.  The calcuation can range from 0% to 50% of the difference in incomes (after deducting child support), increasing with a longer marriage, older spouse, more disability, and less education. In their wisdom, however, the Nevada Supreme Court has banned family court judges from using the formula to determine alimony.

The result is a list of “factors” to be weighted. The factors vary from case to case and even the same factors have been given more or less weight in different cases. Thus, the judge must weigh each of the relevant factors in determining an alimony award and duration.  These factors include:

  • age and health of the weaker party (usually the wife)
  • property/assets of the wife
  • whether wife contributed to the development of the husband’s career
  • husband’s income
  • wife’s premarital job training
  • wife’s job and income potential
  • kids
  • marriage duration

The wife can also be awarded “rehabilitative” alimony to enable her to train to re-enter the workforce. Alimony can also be awarded indefinitely (although this seems to be getting rarer).  Alimony is also taxable to the recipient and tax deductible by the payer (actually lowering your adjustable gross income).  

In my experience, much money can be saved by agreeing to use the Tonopah formula and moving on. Litigation over alimony is costly (to gather evidence on all the factors) and the outcome is extremely uncertain because the judge can rule in almost completely arbitrary manner (and doesn’t have to justify his or her decision). Unfortunately, many lawyers like to tell their clients they can get a much better deal than the formula (my ex was given a number almost double that of the formula and eventually received about 50% more at great cost to us both). My advice go with the formula or something close and get a stipulation (agreement) in writing filed with the court ASAP.

Personally, I believe that alimony is simply “child support for adults” and, except for a few extreme cases, has outlived its used-by date.  


21 Responses to Alimony in Nevada

  1. Nerijus says:

    You are great contributor. I is always nice to see that someone cares about issues that fathers are facing around the world. Hope to see you as a member at my website that I created to help fathers deal with thees issues

  2. Jon Rushing says:

    lady is getting alimony..has roommate to survive..husband is asking to lower alimony because of roommate..can this happen

  3. Debra says:

    To Jon, I think it depends on whether or not the roomate is actually contributing financially or not. Sometimes that is not the case, and the roomate is there primarily for companionship.

  4. tim says:

    I am49 and due to blood clots in my legs i cannot work disability is a slow process my 38 year old wife has up and left me with a house inforecllosure we have lived together for 15 years married for 10 we have 2 kids 18 and 6 she took them with her i have i have no income she makes 38 thousanda year can i get alimony from her?

  5. Jane says:

    Tim: Of course you can! But keep in mind that since she has custody of the kids, you may be required to pay child support unless it is determined that you will share custody.

  6. Rachel says:

    Me and my husband have been married for almost 3 years, i am,about 7 months pregnant and he was the one supporting me, but now he has anouther women pregnant by a month and is moving out on me pregnant… is that good enough terms to file for alimony considering no one is going to hire me this far along in my pregnancy?

  7. RIza says:

    i am 59 years old. My wife and I are separated for a long time (5 years, no communication). We never had children. I dont have a job for 5 years now and she is getting pension. Now she wanted to divorce ( I do too) but she wants alimony. Do you think it will be granted to her?

  8. William Heino Sr. says:

    Much talked about alimony reform, such are the dreams of the disabled veteran. When is that going to happen? However, any proposed legislation is discriminatory which does not include alimony reform for disabled veterans. As made obvious, both in states where attempts where made, and where passage was successful. Proposed and passed into law without thought or consideration for the disabled veteran wanting, under similar circumstances. However, actions by state courts are not as unintentional when it involves veteran’s disability compensation.
    “It is well established that disability benefits are a protected property interest and may not be discontinued without due process of law. See Atkins v. Parker, 472 U.S. 115, 128 (1985); Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 332 (1976)”
    38 USC 5301 Nonassignability and exempt status of benefits. “Payments of benefits due or to become due under any law administered by the Secretary shall not be assignable except to the extent specifically authorized by law,.. a beneficiary shall be exempt from taxation, shall be exempt from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary.
    The question being, how is it, that state court judges can arbitrarily and capriciously award as alimony, with the mere wave of a hand, waive away a portion of a veteran’s VA disability rated compensation? Moneys in the form of disability compensation, the disability rights of a veteran, whose disability rating that maybe determined and factored in as critical? Judgment as if all disabilities are exactly the same. A disabled veteran’s plead to the judge, “I have a severe serious back injury, I need all of my VA disability compensation.” The judge would reply, “Are you a doctor?”
    But yet, state court judges, are in reality playing doctor, without medical license or knowledge .. a practice forbidden, providing penalties by law, and border on medical negligence. All without any input, or approval from the Veterans Administration. Overstepping those whose authority it belongs, the dedicated VA medical professionals, in the practice of medicine, re-evaluation, and rehabilitation of the veteran. While at the same time violating federal law, 38 USC 5301, 42 USC 1408, and the 14th Amendment.
    Ninth Circuit Says Congress, Not Courts, Have Say Over VA Health Care.
    Continually, State court judges disregard the law, as reduction in disability compensation cannot be “reduced unless an improvement in the veteran’s disability is shown to have occurred.” USC 1155 Authority for schedule for rating disabilities.
    How are judges allowed the non-life threatening discretion to award as alimony disability compensation based on ‘statutory’ awards? Which are not predicated directly on the average reduction in earning capacity, but primarily upon consideration of noneconomic factors such as personal inconvenience, social inadaptability, or the profound nature of the disability. The purpose of the statutory award for loss or loss of use of a creative organ is to account for psychological factors.
    “Clear and substantial” major damage to federal interests occurs when state court judges make lasting decisions, that seriously impact disabled veterans’ rated compensation and complicate Veterans Administration goals, and responsibilities. Upsetting, and overruling VA medical compensation decisions, which involve many hours of work that VA medical professionals have invested in the medical care, control, follow-up, and rehabilitation of disabled veterans. All this happens with VA complicity, when a state court, arbitrarily is allowed to take away a veterans VA disability compensation in third party alimony awards in violation of….. 38 USC 5301. 42 USC § 407 – Assignment of benefits, carries similar language.
    Where is it written, the VA authority, when a state judge can overrule the VA, the VA medical doctors and other medical professionals’ that determine a veterans’ medical rating compensation? His future now without the compensation that was by law assured? Tax payer monies mandated by Congress purposely, as veterans service compensation for injuries received, life altering as they are, now being diverted purposely by state courts to healthy third parties in many cases, in a determined and engaging violation of the law. To allow what has been happening, arbitrary exercise of government power, was it the intent of Congress that state court judges substitute their judgment for the judgment of VA doctors and medical professionals? I don’t think so!
    Perhaps, state legislators will or have proposed alimony reform legislation such as Massachusetts, West Virginia, California, as well as other states, due to the changing realities of family life, either proposed or passed that ‘permanent current alimony’ obligations be eliminated in alimony reform legislation? Legislation having broad appeal, proposed, and as happened, passed into law without thought or consideration of the disabled veteran wanting, under similar circumstances.
    To this day, there is no eagerness of state legislators to extend this, or any proposal to eliminate veterans disability compensation awards from alimony, despite the law, or any reform measures. The laws protecting disability compensation are very clear. What is needed is reform in the court system, and legislative re-thinking, that for whatever reason, due process and property rights do not apply to disabled veterans? This is something disabled veterans’, despite all efforts at law, over many years have tried to accomplish. Passing alimony reform legislation without disabled veterans would be just another insult. Brushed aside for more important things.
    The law is clear as to a veteran’s rights and a state court judge’s improper judicial authority in denying protections that are guaranteed.
    Disabled veteran’s have had the exact same alimony issue as everybody else. However, correcting clearly improper and illegal court rulings imposed on disabled veteran‘s is the issue, as much as it is any reform proposal.
    I hope state legislators will honor them, with clarifying legislation supporting the property rights of the disabled veteran, setting an example for the rest of the nation.

  9. William Heino Sr. says:

    The “separation of powers” doctrine is completely ignored by Nevada and most state court judges, acting like doctors, holding themselves as qualified, as a provider of health care, outside their jurisdiction. Substituting their judgment for the judgment of VA doctors and medical professionals awarding as alimony a disabled veteran’s VA disability compensation. To allow what has been happening, was this the intent of Congress?
    Nevada Constitution Article 3 Section 1 subsection 1
    “The powers of the Government of the State of Nevada shall be divided into three separate departments,—the Legislative,—the Executive and the Judicial; and…”
    If the United State court of appeals, in VETERANS FOR COMMON SENSE, VETERANS UNITED FOR TRUTH, INC., v. ERIC K. SHINSEKI, December 13, 2011, refuses, “As much as we may wish for expeditious improvement in the way the VA handles mental health care and service-related disability compensation, we cannot exceed our jurisdiction to accomplish it,” then, Nevada courts are in no legal position to do so. Despite the law, it continues.

    • John says:

      So what does this mean? Can a judge award her part of my disability check? Would it help if I bring my Mental Health worker to court with me? Is she entitled to any other VA benefits? I already talked to Tri-Care, they said because we weren’t married before I joined the military, she is only entitled to health benefits 1 year after the divorce is final. She will try and lean on being a homemaker, but it’s been 20 years since she has worked….I have a 20 y/o, 18 y/o, both graduated and a 13 y/o. Any comments on this? Thanks for your help

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