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The Difference Between a Divorce and an Annulment in Nevada

Wedded individuals may file for annulment or divorce in Nevada to end their union. Both legal processes have the same outcome: dissolves one’s marriage. However, there are a few key differences between them. One of which is the legal effect of a decree of annulment or divorce. When an annulment is decreed, it renders one’s marriage contract invalid from the point of establishment, as if it never happened. Whereas, the effect of a divorce decree is it ends a marriage that is valid and legally accepted. Petitions for divorce and annulment are handled by the Nevada District Court.

What is a Nevada Divorce Decree?

A Nevada divorce decree is the final judgment of the court approving the dissolution of one’s marriage (NRS 125.130).. For a person’s divorce to be final, the decree must be signed by a judge and filed with the Clerk of District Court. Contained in this court document are the terms of a divorce, the rights/obligations of divorcees, personal details of the divorcees, and orders of the court (including change of name orders). Rights/obligations awarded or granted in a divorce case include spousal support, child custody, child support, property/debt allocation.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

What is an Annulment in Nevada?

The law governing annulment in Nevada is compiled under NRS 125.290 to 125.440. Other related laws and court rules (statewide and local) are indexed on the Annulment Laws and Rules page of Nevada’s judiciary website. Under these laws, an annulment refers to a legal proceeding initiated to declare that a person’s marriage was void from the moment it happened. Generally, it is not easy to trace records from annulment proceedings in Nevada as under the law, the marriages in question never existed. Also, there are no legal procedures indicated in statutes or court rules for record requests.

Annulment vs Divorce in Nevada

Although annulments and divorces have similar legal procedures in Nevada, there are a few dissimilarities, including residency criteria, legal effects, legal grounds, and remedies (spousal support).

  • Residency criteria: While persons filing for a divorce are expected to be state residents (living within Nevada for 6 weeks, at least), in annulment proceedings, there are no such requirements, as provided by NRS 125.360. Anyone with a Nevada marriage license can request an annulment from the District Court at any time. However, under NRS 125.370, when the license was not obtained in Nevada, the petitioner or plaintiff is required to have resided in the State for a minimum of 6 weeks before filing a petition.
  • Legal effects: Though decrees of annulment and divorce legally terminate a marital union, they do not have the same effect on one’s marital status. An annulment decree cancels a marriage contract, as if it never existed, and returns spouses to their civil status before the marriage. Meanwhile, a divorce decree terminates a marriage but does not remove evidence of a person’s marriage, or return individuals to their unmarried status
  • Legal grounds: The reasons for annulment are more restricted than those for divorce. Persons who want to obtain an annulment from the court must clearly and convincingly prove certain legal grounds such as:
  • Both parties are too related to have married
  • Either party already has a spouse
  • Lack of understanding or mental incapacity (NRS 125.330)
  • Fraud (NRS 125.340)
  • No parental, legal guardian, or court consent (NRS 125.320)

Typically, an annulment decree can be issued by a court upon evidence that any of these grounds exist in the marriage. However, with some of these grounds, spouses may become ineligible for annulment if they voluntarily remained in the marriage after knowledge of such facts. More information on annulment procedures can be found in Nevada’s annulment statutes, NRS 125.290 to 125.440, or on the Ground for Annulments in Nevada self-help page.

On the other hand, as Nevada is primarily a no-fault divorce state, spouses can obtain a divorce decree without proving that one party is at fault or certain circumstances exist to make the marriage eligible for divorce, like in an annulment proceeding.

  • Remedies (spousal support): Persons filing for annulment can obtain child custody, support, and visitation orders, as well as change of name orders, from the court. It may also be possible to divide marital properties and debts when the spouses assumed their marriage was legitimate. However, a District Court judge cannot decide spousal support or alimony in annulment proceedings. This form of legal remedy is only reserved for spouses involved in a divorce case.

Interested parties can find comprehensive details on divorce and annulment procedures in Nevada, as well as the forms to file to obtain an annulment decree, through the state judiciary’s Self-Help Center website.

Is an Annulment Cheaper Than Divorce In Nevada?

No, annulment cases do not cost less than divorce cases in Nevada. The amount of money spent by individuals to finalize their divorce or annulment cases in court varies by case. This sum will be greater or lower depending on if the case is contested or not, or if the time frame required to settle marital issues such as custody, support, and assets division, is lengthier because spouses cannot agree on such matters.

What is an Uncontested Divorce in Nevada?

In Nevada, an uncontested divorce is a judicial proceeding where neither spouse challenges the terms of their divorce concerning child care and custody; visitation schedule; child support; alimony; name change; and property/debt distribution (tax debts, bank accounts, mortgages, loans, etc.).

Usually, when a divorce case is uncontested, it is much easier and faster to obtain a divorce decree, officially known as a Joint Decree of Divorce, from the court. Unlike contested divorces, spouses may not have to attend a court hearing to finalize their divorce. However, it is essential to note that in filing for an uncontested divorce, individuals give up certain legal rights, including the right to appeal their decrees of divorce.

Where to Get an Uncontested Divorce Form in Nevada

Before any District Court can accept a filing for an uncontested divorce, spouses must completely agree on the marital issues mentioned above. The forms to file for an uncontested divorce are as follows:

  • Civil Cover Sheet
  • Joint Petition for Divorce With No Minor Children (fillable/non-fillable) or Joint Petition for Divorce With Minor Children (fillable/non-fillable)
  • Confidential Information Sheet With Minor Children or Confidential Information Sheet With No Minor Children
  • Affidavit/Declaration of Resident Witness (fillable/non-fillable)
  • Joint Decree of Divorce With No Minor Children (fillable/non-fillable) or Joint Decree of Divorce With Minor Children (fillable/non-fillable)

These forms are available on the Nevada Self-Help website. Also, persons filing for uncontested divorces in Washoe County or Clark County may find divorce forms on the official websites of the courts. The court records of uncontested divorce cases can be accessed by members of the public under the Nevada Public Records Act (NPRA) except for records that are sealed/confidential by law or court order.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How Do I Get a Copy of my Divorce Decree in Nevada?

Anyone who wants to collect a certified copy of their divorce decree may visit the District Court where the court case was concluded or submit a written request by mail. The addresses and contact details of the District Courts can be located with the Find My Court tool. Persons making mail requests must include details such as the names of parties to the case, the case number (if known), description of the record, an estimated divorce date/year, and the requester’s contact number (phone). To receive copies by mail, it is necessary to include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Individuals may contact the applicable court to know the fees for copies and payment methods acceptable by the court for mail requests. However, in Washoe County, this fee is $6 payable by cashier’s check or money order.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain, and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

How Do I Get a Nevada Divorce Decree Online?

Nevada Courts do not have a unified public access system for obtaining divorce decrees online. Neither do the local District Courts provide remote access to view or download divorce decrees. Interested persons must contact or visit the applicable court to get these records.

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