This is the next post in a series of articles discussing the potential financial impact on Las Vegas fathers who begin dating before their divorce is final. My previous post provided an overview of the topics to be discussed throughout this series. It also reiterated that while nothing legally prevents dating before a divorce is completed, doing so may result in unintended financial implications. In this post, I will address the intersection between Nevada’s community property laws and dating during a divorce. If you need assistance with a family law matter, including divorce, contact my office to speak with a fathers’ rights attorney.
Nevada is a community property state, meaning that property or debts acquired by one or both spouses during their marriage are considered joint assets or obligations. As such, the Court’s general approach is to divide the jointly held “community property” equitably between the parties when they divorce. This does not necessarily mean a 50/50 division in all cases but the Judge will evaluate how to distribute community property between the spouses as fairly as possible. For instance, if a wife opens a new credit card, even without notifying her husband, he will most likely be considered jointly responsible for the outstanding balance at the time of their divorce. If one party purchases a vehicle, that asset would likely be considered joint marital property. There are some exceptions to this general rule, such as property subject to a valid prenuptial agreement or inherited by one spouse from a family member.
Even after a couple decides to separate, debts or assets acquired before their marriage is officially terminated can be considered jointly owned. Therefore, when a father decides to begin dating before his divorce settlement is final, this may become a more complicated analysis. Consider the following example. During the pendency of his divorce case, Bob begins dating Sue. Bob and his future ex-wife both make roughly $50,000 per year, own their $300,000 home, and have $10,000 in credit card debt. Under Nevada’s community property laws, their debts and assets would likely be evenly split between them. Now suppose Bob’s financial disclosures show that since he began dating Sue, he has incurred $30,000 of new debt on a credit card used to purchase luxury vacations and jewelry for her. Bob’s future ex may ask the Court to freeze certain of their joint accounts based on his extravagant spending until the case is final. She may also have a convincing argument that she should not be held responsible for any of his dating-related credit card debt. If Bob spent other marital assets on Sue, such as using his income to pay for other extravagant expenses, his ex may argue that she is entitled to a larger share of the property division to offset the loss. How the Judge will rule in any situation is dependent upon the specific facts of each case.
Understanding how your choices could impact your financial settlement in a divorce may help you avoid a negative outcome. If you are contemplating ending your marriage and need assistance, an experienced fathers’ rights attorney can explain your rights and obligations. My practice is dedicated to family law matters and ready to assist you. Contact us today to speak with a lawyer.