Areas of Practice
In Nevada, any adult person who is at least 10 years older than the person sought to be adopted, may petition to adopt a minor child or any adult. We are well versed in adoption law and understand the requirements and special rules that apply to adoption (domestic or international) of a minor child, an adult or a child of Native American descent.
Child Custody and Visitation
Many parents experience disputes with one another with respect to parenting plans and time-share arrangements of their minor children. A custody/visitation dispute may take place during the divorce process or post-divorce. In our extensive experience in this area we have gained insight into the relationships between divorced parents and between parents and their children. While we never endorse a tug-of-war between parents over their children, we do understand that the children must be protected. Equally important and requiring protection is the healthy parent/child relationship. In our practice we handle modifications to child custody or visitation arrangements and enforcement of visitation orders.
In Nevada, child support is calculated pursuant to a statutory formula. The calculation is affected, and in some cases complicated, by the parents’ specific time-share arrangement as well as various factors enumerated by statute. We are well versed in the current child support laws and the recent changes to those laws. We will help our clients reach an equitable result based on the law and the specific circumstances of their case.
Many people choose to represent themselves in the divorce process, either because they cannot afford to hire an attorney or because they are engaging in an uncontested divorce without children or significant marital assets. If you represent yourself you will be responsible for filing and filling out all the legal forms on your own. It can be a daunting process. In a coaching session we can assist you by reviewing your paperwork and making suggestions about what to changes and/or additions should be made prior to filing. We will also provide you with an overview of Nevada divorce and custody law and answer any questions you may have regarding the process in general.
Complex Property Distribution
A divorce can be especially complicated when the spouses own a substantial amount of assets. This can be even more complicated if a spouse came into the marriage with substantial separate property but failed to obtain a prenuptial agreement. We understand how to work with a complex estate, including those with separate property claims, family-owned businesses, investment accounts, hidden assets, retirement funds and large inheritance.
There are three distinct categories of divorce: 1) uncontested divorce (or joint petition); 2) contested divorce; and 3) collaborative divorce. In our practice we handle all types of divorce. An uncontested divorce is one in which the parties agree on property/debt division, child custody, child support and alimony. Our role in an uncontested divorce is limited to advising you in regard to Nevada law as it pertains to your case, occasionally negotiating with the other side to arrive at the most favorable and practical solution, answering basic questions and preparing and filing the legal paperwork necessary to obtain a decree of divorce. This option is the simplest and most cost effective way to obtain a divorce in Nevada. A decree of divorce in an uncontested divorce is typically entered in 2-10 weeks from the date of filing. Unfortunately, the other side sometimes makes this cost-effective and timely approach impossible and litigation becomes the only means to complete the divorce. A contested divorce is one in which the parties cannot come to an agreement on all issues relevant to the divorce process and are in need of resolution through the court system. If after initial negotiation attempts it is clear that the spouses will not reach an agreement, either on their own or through counsel, a complaint of divorce will be filed, which begins the formal litigation process. At every step after the filing of the complaint, we encourage negotiation and settlement. We do not encourage our clients to engage in litigation, as divorce litigation can be both expensive and emotionally draining. We do, however, understand that sometimes aggressive litigation is necessary to obtain an equitable result for our clients. We always advise our clients of the reasonable alternatives to engaging in a contested divorce. We take all steps necessary to decrease the acrimony between the spouses and encourage steps that are in the children’s best interests. The costs of engaging in a contested divorce vary depending upon the complexity of the marital estate, the acrimony between the spouses and the cooperativeness of opposing counsel. A divorce trial typically is had within 1 year of the date of filing the complaint. A collaborative divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution for spouses who cannot come to an agreement on all issues relevant to the divorce process but who want to stay out of court. A team of divorce professionals, including divorce lawyers, financial advisors, mental health professionals and divorce coaches, combine their expertise to help divorcing spouses reach an agreement on how they will end their marriage. If a collaborative agreement cannot be reached, the parties are forced to start over in the court system by filing a complaint for divorce. The costs of engaging in a collaborative divorce vary depending upon the complexity of the marital estate, the acrimony between the spouses and their willingness to see the collaborative process through to the end. “Divorces involve real people and their relationships. They involve children and homes. They involve intensely personal emotions and memories. Every case is unique. Applying the same textbook approach to every case will not lead to the just and practical result. Every case deserves specialized thought and legal expertise.”
With the passage of Senate Bill 283 in 2009, and the legislative override of Governor Gibbons’ veto thereof, Nevada law will recognize Domestic Partnerships beginning October 1, 2009. We can assist you with the preparation, establishment, or dissolution of your domestic partnership.
Guardian Ad Litem
A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is appointed by the Court to represent the best interests of the children involved in a family law matter. Generally, GALs are appointed in dependency cases and high conflict custody cases when the Court believes that the child’s needs are not being sufficiently addressed by the parents and their attorneys. Under the direction of the Court, a GAL investigates and reports to the Court regarding her findings and recommendations.
It is important to note that the GAL represents the child’s best interests. Sometimes the child’s desires conflict with what is in his best interests. Often, the child’s best interests conflict with his parent’s desires. A GAL is an officer of the court and must maintain independence to protect the integrity of the process. The specific duties and responsibilities of the GAL vary from case to case and are governed by the Court’s order and any relevant rules or statutes.
A guardianship allows one to take on the responsibility of serving as a replacement decision-maker for an incompetent adult or a minor child. In our practice we are well-versed in guardianship law and have established both adult and minor child guardianship. Jessica Anderson is well versed in Reno guardianship law for minor child guardianship and adult guardianship.
Regardless of whether a parent’s rights and obligations to the child may be terminated is dependent upon both the best interests of the child and parental fault such as abandonment, neglect and unfitness. We represent parents faced with this difficult reality and will advise them as to the relevant considerations in the termination of parental rights analysis.
Legal Separation/Separate Maintenance
Divorce is not the only option for those seeking to move on from their marital relationship. Sometimes religious beliefs, finances or health insurance needs make formal divorce undesirable or impractical. In a legal separation, assets may be divided and debts may be allocated while the legal marriage remains in effect. We will offer sound advice with respect to pursuing a legal separation.
In the family law context, mediation is not the same as settlement. In the settlement context, the parties and their lawyers typically caucus, with each lawyer talking to their own client in separate rooms. Typically there is not direct communication between the parties and if there is, the communication is typically filtered by the lawyers.
In private family mediation, the clients typically meet face to face, with their lawyers, who act as legal consultants. As trained mediators, after first taking into account the emotional dynamics, we attempt to facilitate a settlement of the outstanding legal issues involving the clients. As part of the mediation, we also attempt to lay the groundwork for post-divorce cooperation and co-parenting if the parties have children together. The goal of any good mediator is to explore all possible solutions and promote understanding between the parties.
Parent and Child Relocation
Regardless of the custody arrangement, when one parent seeks to move with the children to another county, state or foreign country, that parent will need to obtain either a formal stipulation from the other parent which is signed by the Judge or a court order authorizing the move. Cases concerning child relocation can be highly contested, acrimonious and difficult for both parents. We have represented both the parent seeking to move and the non-moving parent and understand the burden of proof necessary to accomplish or defeat a motion to relocate.
We have represented both the parent seeking to move and the non-moving parent and understand the burden of proof necessary to accomplish or defeat a motion to relocate.
As parenting coordinators we enter high conflict custody cases in a neutral role, to counsel the parties and intervene when necessary to prevent ongoing litigation. Our role as parenting coordinators is to manage ongoing issues between parents in the aftermath of high conflict divorces by helping them to implement their parenting plans, facilitating their disputes in a timely manner, educating them about how their children’s needs can best be met under the circumstances. In some cases, with prior approval of the parties and the Court, we make decisions when mediation fails. The process is child focused and presents an alternative to ongoing litigation.
When unmarried persons have a child, their rights with respect to custody and visitation of the child as well as their obligations to support that child can be established either through a formal written agreement or through the court system. We have represented both unmarried fathers and unmarried mothers in establishing parental rights and obligations concerning children born out of wedlock.
Premarital, Post-nuptial, Separation/Separate Maintenance and Cohabitation Agreements
Since Nevada is a community property state, the law presumes that all the assets and debts owned by the parties at the time of divorce should be equally divided. It can be very expensive in a divorce to prove separate property claims and defeat claims for alimony. Without the protection of a legal marriage, many unmarried couples who acquire assets together are left without recourse upon death or break-up. A premarital agreement is a before marriage solution to obviating some risks of divorce by limiting the parties’ respective property rights and rights to alimony. A post-nuptial agreement is a marriage contract created anytime after marriage. A post-nuptial agreement is recommended if the financial status of the marriage changes during the marriage through an inheritance or career change. A separation agreement is an agreement which sets forth the parties’ rights and obligations with respect to assets, liabilities, support, maintenance and custody/visitation of minor children upon the parties’ physical separation but before the divorce process is initiated. A cohabitation agreement is a contract between unmarried, adult cohabitants which contractually establishes the rights and obligations to one another upon death or break-up. Unless the unmarried couple defines their partnership through a legal contract, it is possible that the law will prevent them from enjoying certain rights and protections otherwise provided by a marital union upon death or break-up. We will carefully draft a premarital, post-nuptial, separation or cohabitation agreement that works to 1) protect assets and income from being divided pursuant to the community property laws; 2) preserve assets for children from previous marriages; and 3) eliminate uncertainty upon death, divorce or break-up.
Reproductive Law and Surrogacy Agreements
The contract phase of a reproductive legal arrangement is probably considered one of the most difficult areas of reproductive law. In our practice we understand that it is important that the contract include provisions necessary to legally protect both parties in the event of a future dispute. We draft reproductive contracts that are precise and accurate to both parties’ wants and needs.
Spousal Support and Alimony
In Nevada, spousal support and alimony is left to judicial discretion due to lack of legislative guidelines. Alimony determinations are very individualized and are highly dependent upon the facts of the case at hand. In our practice we make it a priority to stay up to date on all recent Nevada Supreme Court decisions regarding alimony. We aggressively argue the facts and the case law to obtain the most equitable result for our clients.
Temporary Protection Orders
Pursuant to a temporary protection order, the court can restrain an adverse party from threatening or harassing the applicant or minor children. In addition, the court can direct that the adverse party be excluded from the residence, the applicant’s employer, the children’s school or daycare, or any other place frequented by the applicant or the children. The applicant may also receive financial support through the TPO process. We represent applicants with good faith claims against adverse parties. We also will represent adverse parties that have been the victims of abuse of the TPO process itself.
Termination of Parental Rights
Whether or not a parent’s rights and obligations to the child may be terminated is dependent upon both the best interests of the child and parental fault such as abandonment, neglect and unfitness. We represent parents faced with this difficult reality and will advise them as to the relevant considerations in the termination of parental rights analysis.