FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Questions for Marilyn D. York, Esq.
Q1. What is the most important decision I will ever make in getting through my impending divorce?
Regardless of what family law matter you face, your single most important decision is in choosing the best attorney available.
Of the 110 plus attorneys in the Reno area who would love to represent you in a family law matter -
Only (12) are State Bar Certified Family Law Specialists
Only (8) of those exclusively practice family law and
I am the only Certified Family Law Specialists that practices family law exclusively that further specializes in Men's Rights.
Q2. If I hire Marilyn D. York, what can she do that others can't or won't do for me?
• We are the "Best" Team because we are hard-working, attentive, diligent, tenacious, industrious, scrupulous, studious, unflagging, untiring, zealous and yes we will also aggressively fight for you where your case needs it but we are so much more than that.
• We show up to court fully prepared, clear headed (sober and rested), ready, willing and eager to be persuasive and compelling.
• We are very adept and comfortable in Family Court, but Court is expensive so we always try to settle cases quickly without overworking, over billing or adding fuel to marital flames.
• We have rapport with the Court and if you're a gentleman in court, we'll be the very best possible team.
• We won't let you give away the farm or your children. We protect your rights!
• We are sensitive and gentle with you and yet powerful in representing you.
Q3. How much money will my family law problem cost me?
For child custody cases where the safety and well being of the child is at risk, your concern should probably be more about not wasting opportunity than focusing on money.
Divorce sometimes costs our clients $20,000 or more for complicated cases, but $2,500 or less is possible for an Uncontested Divorce. We consistently charge less than opposing counsels for the same amount of work.
Q4 What is my best next step to get all my questions answered?
Schedule an Initial Consultation with the Law Office of Marilyn D. York - it is relatively inexpensive, will remove many of your fears of the unknown, and should make it easy for you to decide your next steps.
Q5 How can a father get custody of his child in Nevada?
In 2017, Nevada adopted a presumption for Joint Physical Custody. Our laws are now gender equal for children born in and out of wedlock. In fact, the law states that parents have joint legal and joint physical custody of their children, regardless of their marital status, unless and until the Court Orders otherwise. The sole consideration of the Court is best interests of the child. Preference cannot be given to either parent for the sole reason that the parent is the mother or father of the child. Joint Custody is statutorily preferred unless in a particular case a child’s best interests require otherwise.
Q6 How can a father win primary custody of the child?
It can be difficult for either a mother or father to obtain primary custody because the law favors joint physical custody so long as it is in the child’s best interests. A father seeking primary custody must be able to show that joint custody isn’t in their particular child’s best interests. Typically primary custody occurs when one parent is unstable, mentally unwell, abusing drugs or alcohol, abusing the child, co-habiting with someone who is unsafe for the child, uninterested in being a parent, unreliable for schooling or medical support or things of this nature. Often the Court will try to put requirements in place to help that other parent stabilize, such as rehab, counseling, anger management, parenting classes, etc. before completely removing their joint custodial rights.
Q7 Do Nevada courts favor the mother when determining custody of the child?
As stated, the physical and legal custody laws are gender equal in Nevada, however, the interpretation is not always so. National statistics confirm that almost 80% of custodial mothers receive a child support award while only just under 30% of custodial father’s do. In practice, it is not uncommon to feel that Courts have a softer hand when enforcing Contempt, or failures to follow Court Orders against women than they do against men. Additionally, paternity laws are not yet entirely fair. For example, Nevada law currently provides that fathers must pay for a woman’s “cost of pregnancy and confinement”. Many Courts enforce this statute to require fathers to pay only half of the cost, as would be consistent with our Constitution that disallows gender bias laws, however, the statute on it’s face is not gender equal. Additionally, when a child is conceived outside of marriage, Nevada law does not allow a paternity action to be filed until the child is live born. Up until that point, the Father has no recourse if mother is abusing drugs while carrying his child, he may be entirely kept in the dark with regard to the health of his unborn child, he has no say about whether or not a mother chooses to terminate the pregnancy and he does not get too choose the child’s birth name, nor include his own name as the Father on the child’s birth certificate without Mother’s cooperation. This means he can be excluded from the hospital and prevented from even meeting his child until a Court Orders it, which can take months. What’s worse is Nevada Law does not even require that a pregnant woman notify a potential Father of the pregnancy or delivering his baby. She can effectively kidnap his child in this scenario and he will never be the wiser. Just as egregious, a woman can knowingly list the wrong Father on a child’s birth certificate, deceive him into signing a voluntary declaration of paternity and in a short while he becomes that child’s legal father forever. He is thereafter obligated to a child that isn’t his and the child has little to no recourse and may never know his real father.
Q8 What if my wife tries to move my children out of the state?
If joint physical custody has been established pursuant to an order, judgment or decree of a court and one parent intends to relocate his or her residence to a place outside of the State or to a place within the State that is at such a distance that would substantially impair the ability of the other parent to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child, and the relocating parent desires to take the child with him or her, the relocating parent must first get the written consent from the other parent to do so, or get Court consent. The factors that must be weighed by the Court when evaluating a move away request, include, but are not limited to: “first, whether the custodial parent has demonstrated that an actual advantage will be realized by both the children and the custodial parent in moving to a location so far removed from the current residence that weekly visitation by the noncustodial parent is virtually precluded. If the custodial parent satisfies the threshold requirement set forth above, then the court must weigh the following additional factors and their impact on all members of the family, including the extent to which the compelling interests of each member of the family are accommodated: (1) the extent to which the move is likely to improve the quality of life for both the children and the custodial parent; (2) whether the custodial parent's motives are honorable, and not designed to frustrate or defeat visitation rights accorded to the noncustodial parent; (3) whether, if permission to remove is granted, the custodial parent will comply with any substitute visitation orders issued by the court; (4) whether the non custodian's motives are honorable in resisting the motion for permission to remove, or to what extent, if any, the opposition is intended to secure a financial advantage in the form of ongoing support obligations or otherwise; (5) whether, if removal is allowed, there will be a realistic opportunity for the noncustodial parent to maintain a visitation schedule that will adequately foster and preserve the parental relationship with the noncustodial parent.” Nevada Supreme Court case of Schwartz v. Schwartz, 107 Nev. 378. It is decidedly more difficult to win a move-away case in Court if the parents share joint physical custody than if the parent requesting the move has primary custody.
In absence of a custody order, you are at a much greater risk. If you suspect your spouse may try to move prior to the filing of a divorce or custody action, you need to seek immediate legal advice.
Q9 Can I request alimony from my wife?
Either spouse may request alimony in a divorce when Nevada law supports a basis for that request. Again, the law is gender neutral and provides the following considerations when making an alimony determination:
9. In addition to any other factors the court considers relevant in determining whether to award alimony and the amount of such an award, the court shall consider:
(a) The financial condition of each spouse;
(b) The nature and value of the respective property of each spouse;
(c) The contribution of each spouse to any property held by the spouses pursuant to NRS 123.030;
(d) The duration of the marriage;
(e) The income, earning capacity, age and health of each spouse;
(f) The standard of living during the marriage;
(g) The career before the marriage of the spouse who would receive the alimony;
(h) The existence of specialized education or training or the level of marketable skills attained by each spouse during the marriage;
(i) The contribution of either spouse as homemaker;
(j) The award of property granted by the court in the divorce, other than child support and alimony, to the spouse who would receive the alimony; and
(k) The physical and mental condition of each party as it relates to the financial condition, health and ability to work of that spouse.
10. In granting a divorce, the court shall consider the need to grant alimony to a spouse for the purpose of obtaining training or education relating to a job, career or profession. In addition to any other factors the court considers relevant in determining whether such alimony should be granted, the court shall consider:
(a) Whether the spouse who would pay such alimony has obtained greater job skills or education during the marriage; and
(b) Whether the spouse who would receive such alimony provided financial support while the other spouse obtained job skills or education.
11. If the court determines that alimony should be awarded pursuant to the provisions of subsection 10:
(a) The court, in its order, shall provide for the time within which the spouse who is the recipient of the alimony must commence the training or education relating to a job, career or profession.
(b) The spouse who is ordered to pay the alimony may, upon changed circumstances, file a motion to modify the order.
(c) The spouse who is the recipient of the alimony may be granted, in addition to any other alimony granted by the court, money to provide for:
(1) Testing of the recipient's skills relating to a job, career or profession;
(2) Evaluation of the recipient's abilities and goals relating to a job, career or profession;
(3) Guidance for the recipient in establishing a specific plan for training or education relating to a job, career or profession;
(4) Subsidization of an employer's costs incurred in training the recipient;
(5) Assisting the recipient to search for a job; or
(6) Payment of the costs of tuition, books and fees for:
(I) The equivalent of a high school diploma;
(II) College courses which are directly applicable to the recipient's goals for his or her career; or
(III) Courses of training in skills desirable for employment.
Q10 What are the procedures for a divorce?
There are two types of Divorce in Nevada: contested and uncontested. A contested divorce is initiated by a lawsuit, where one spouse sues the other for Divorce. An uncontested divorce is filed jointly by the parties after they have reached a mutual agreement for the division of their assets, debts, custody and support, including alimony and child support. There is no waiting period in Nevada for a divorce. There is a residency requirement in most cases. Nevada is a no fault divorce state, meaning there is no need to allege fault in order to file, nor will fault be a basis to seek an unequal share of the assets or debts outside of a marital waste argument.
In a contested case, the non-filing spouse must file a response with the court within 21 days. Thereafter, the Court holds a Case Management Conference, which is a hearing to determine the interim support, custody and property control arrangements. Discovery commences and a Settlement Conference is scheduled to attempt to reach an amicable divorce agreement. If the parties have children, they are typically sent to mediation unless there is a restraining order in place. Family Court is specifically designed to mediate and assist the parties in reaching mutual agreements whenever possible. If the parties are unable to agree, however, the matter will be heard in a contested hearing or Trial and the Court will make rulings.
Q11 How long does it take to get a divorce in Nevada?
The divorce process in Nevada is very efficient when filing an uncontested divorce. Once the joint petition and proposed Decree are filed, assuming they are properly filed, the Court typically enters the Decree within just a few weeks. However, a contested divorce is entirely unpredictable as far as the likely length. Some settle right away and are concluded in a matter of just a few months and some take years. Most contested divorces take somewhere between six to eighteen months, depending on the Court they are filed in and the conduct of the parties. Custody battles tend to increase the cost and time a divorce takes by at least a third to double.
Q12 How do I protect my custody and visitation rights?
As stated, Nevada law now provides that both parents have joint legal and physical custody regardless of their marital status. Accordingly, you should either demand or provide your spouse with shared custody with a schedule the two of you can agree on. If you are unable to agree, seek legal advice as soon as possible. Otherwise, the best thing you can do is act in accordance with your children’s best interests. Be responsible, reliable and a good caretaker. Stay sober, be professional and courteous to your ex, as hard as that may be. Do not disparage your ex, especially to or in front of the children. Keep your ex informed and confer with her on all matters that effect your children. Follow doctors’ and teachers’ recommendations for your children. Take care of yourself, rest, eat well, exercise and seek personal counseling to support you and your children during this extremely difficult time. You cannot be a good parent if you don’t first take care of yourself. Be financially conservative and alert. The cost of running two households is much higher than running one. Seek legal advice as soon as possible and follow it. Seek a second opinion if you don’t feel comfortable with the advice you are getting or your representation.
Q13 Are all the decisions made in my divorce judgment final?
For the most part yes. In extreme circumstances you may be able to revisit a ruling, if the decision was made after a contested hearing, but you need to do so immediately. The deadlines are 10 days, 30 days or 6 months depending upon the relief being sought and the legal basis therefore. In most instances your divorce decree is final in all aspects except for the few things that are modifiable by Nevada Law. Those include: child custody, child support and alimony. Physical custody can be reviewed and modified in accordance with the children’s best interests when you share joint physical custody. Otherwise, if one parent has primary physical custody, it can only be reviewed if there has been a substantial change of circumstances and the modification is in the child’s best interests. Child support can be reviewed every three years or if one party’s income has changed by 20% or more. Alimony may be reviewed based upon changed circumstances which include a change in the paying spouses’ income to such a level that the spouse is unable to pay the alimony.
Parties are also free to negotiate new custody and alimony arrangements and enter into a Stipulation seeking Court approval of their new modified agreement. Child support too can be negotiated between the parties, however, the statutory guidelines must be followed even when making an agreement.
Q14 Am I responsible for my “ex’s” credit card debt in a divorce?
Presumptively property purchased and debts incurred during marriage are presumed to be community property. Of course, there are exceptions if one party continued to spend after the Court entered an Order restricting the parties’ ability or right to spend freely. Additionally, if one party committed “marital waste” by spending an exorbitant amount of money or incurring debt for things that only benefitted one party such as pursuing an extra marital affair, gambling, plastic surgery after separation, or buying drugs or alcohol when that party has a substance abuse problem to name the most obvious.