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Common law marriages are rare in the United States, with only 11 states recognizing them as legally binding unions. Nevada, renowned for its leniency in granting swift divorces, does not acknowledge common law marriages within its jurisdiction. To obtain a divorce in Nevada, couples must have a valid marriage license, emphasizing the importance of a formal, documented marriage. This distinction highlights the necessity of legal recognition for couples seeking the benefits and protection of marriage, such as alimony, while also simplifying the divorce process, sparing them from complex paperwork.

In the absence of such recognition, individuals involved in common law partnerships may find themselves in a complex legal situation, requiring the expertise of a lawyer for advice and guidance in cases of cohabitation or disputes arising from financial matters, ensuring that love and partnership are legally recognized and protected.

What Is A Common Law Marriage?

A common law marriage is a legal concept that grants the same rights and privileges as a traditional marriage, even if a couple has not obtained a marriage license or held a formal ceremony. However, not all states in the United States recognize common law marriages, and the specific requirements to establish one can vary significantly. For instance, in Texas, a common law marriage can be recognized if a couple agrees to marry, cohabitates after the agreement, and holds themselves out as a married couple in public. This means that partners can be considered “married” without the formalities associated with a marriage license or ceremony.

On the other hand, living together for an extended period or intending to marry in states like Nevada is insufficient to establish a common law marriage. The legality of a marriage often hinges on whether a couple’s relationship obtains a marriage license in the eyes of the law. As a result, when such couples separate, they may face complex legal issues related to property division, child custody, and more. Child custody laws will also apply in these cases, and it’s crucial to consult with lawyers experienced in family law to navigate these intricate legal matters. It’s essential to recognize that the recognition and treatment of common law marriages can vary from one jurisdiction to another, making it vital for people to understand the specific rules and regulations in their place of residence or where the common law marriage was formed.

Child Custody Laws, Visitation, And Support In Nevada

Child Custody Laws Visitation And Support In Nevada

In Nevada, child custody laws, visitation rights, and child support are governed by the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS). Section 126.036 emphasizes that “the liberty interest of parents regarding the care, custody, and the management of a child is a fundamental right.” This underscores the importance of parental rights in decisions concerning a child’s well-being. To exercise these rights, both parents must establish paternity, the legal acknowledgment of a child’s biological parentage. Nevada law provides several avenues for establishing paternity.

Once paternity has been legally determined, the parents have rights and responsibilities similar to those of married couples. This means that they both share the obligation to support and care for their child.

In cases where a child is born out of wedlock, and there is no presumption that a man is the father, or the man has not acknowledged the child’s paternity, the court may grant physical custody to the mother. This may also occur if the man is aware of his paternity but has abandoned the child. The court considers the child’s best interests when making such determinations.

Conversely, if the mother abandons the child, and the father assumes sole care and responsibility for the child during her absence, the court may grant primary custody to the father. This underscores the principle that custody decisions are based on the child’s well-being rather than the gender or marital status of the parents.

Nevada law emphasizes that, regardless of the parent’s marital status or relationship with each other, the court’s visitation decisions are made with the child’s best interests in mind. This means that the court will consider various factors to determine the visitation schedule that will provide the child with a stable and nurturing environment.

In summary, child custody laws in Nevada prioritize the fundamental rights of parents to care for their children. These laws emphasize the importance of establishing paternity and making custody and visitation decisions in the child’s best interests, irrespective of the parent’s relationship or marital status.

Property Division For Unmarried Couples In Nevada

In a community property state, such as California, all income and property acquired by a legally married couple during their marriage is considered jointly owned by both spouses. This means both partners have equal rights to the accumulated assets and income. In the unfortunate event of a divorce, the courts are responsible for equitably dividing these assets and other possessions between the two individuals. This division encompasses various property types, including real estate, vehicles, household furnishings, bank accounts (checking and savings), retirement accounts, pensions, and even family pets.

It’s essential to note that community property doesn’t apply to couples cohabiting without formal marriage. In such cases, any disputes that arise during separation are typically treated as civil matters rather than family court issues, primarily because these couples lack the legal obligations and protections that come with marriage.

Now, let’s explore different legal frameworks that can apply to property ownership and separation for both married and non-married couples:

1. Contract Principles

When a couple has entered into a contract specifying joint ownership of assets or property, and they subsequently separate, civil law courts will assess the contract and make a final decision based on the principles outlined in the contract. This contract could be in the form of a cohabitation agreement, which serves as a legally binding document outlining the rights and responsibilities of each partner.

2. Joint Tenants

If a couple purchases real estate as joint tenants, they each possess an equal 50 percent share of the property, regardless of who made the down payment or handled the ongoing payments. The ownership structure implies that both names are on the property deed, signifying equal ownership. In case of separation, the property will be divided equally between the two parties. If they hold the property as joint tenants with the rights of survivorship, the death of one party would lead to the other inheriting the deceased party’s share of the property.

3. Tenants in Common

This arrangement allows a couple to own property with distinct percentages of ownership shares jointly. The division of the property upon separation is based on each person’s ownership proportion. If one of the partners were to pass away, their share of the property would become part of their estate and would not automatically transfer to the other party.

These legal frameworks and ownership arrangements are essential for defining the rights and responsibilities of partners in various forms of relationships, whether through marriage, cohabitation, or specific contracts. It’s crucial to consult with legal professionals, such as lawyers specializing in family law or real estate, to ensure that your interests are adequately protected and that all relevant legal documents and agreements are in place.

Additionally, it’s worth considering the implications of property ownership on matters like inheritance, should one of the partners pass away, and to consult legal experts in the case of life-changing events or changes in the relationship. Friends and family can offer support and advice, but legal experts are essential for navigating complex legal matters.

Putative Spouse Doctrine

The Nevada Supreme Court, in 2004, had the case of Williams vs. Williams. It was here that the Putative Spouse Doctrine held “Fairness and equity” to recognize putative spouses when the parties enter into marriage in good faith without the knowledge of a factual or a legal impediment to their marriage.” Courts held out that this was in keeping with the policy of Nevada to refuse to recognize a common-law marriage or a palimony suit due to the fact that the parties obtained a marriage license and made an attempt to enter into a legally solemnized union.

Putative spouse doctrine is that of property division: In Williams vs. Williams, the couple had a wedding ceremony. They obtained the marriage certificate and they truly believed that they had been legally husband and wife for 27 years. Upon their decision to divorce, they found out that Mrs. Williams hadn’t legally divorced her first husband at the time that they married. Thus, their marriage was never valid and the judge granted them an annulment. Thus, as they were in good faith married, the property that they had together accumulated during their putative marriage was divided as if it were community property.

The putative spouse doctrine, spousal support: Nevada Supreme Court will consider how other states divide and award spousal support. There is no award of spousal support should there be an absence of “bad faith, of fraud, or statutory authority”.

Our law firm gives free consultations, so you can decide if Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd. is right for you. Give us a call at (702) 474-0500 to set up an appointment today.

For more information on how can help you with Common Law Marriages: Uncommon Divorces, please contact us at (702) 474-0500, or visit us here:

Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd.

6655 West Sahara avenue
Suite D220 (Building D)
Las Vegas, NV 89146

(702) 474-0500

Child Custody Attorney in Las Vegas, Nevada