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Marriage and Partnerships

How does the law define marriage?
Marriage is a civil contract between a man and a woman that is entered into when both parties consent and when a marriage ceremony is performed. (NRS 122.010(1)). State law defines the rights and obligations of the married persons.

What do I need to get married in Nevada?
To be legally married in Nevada, you must have both a marriage license and a marriage ceremony performed by a qualified person. A marriage license that is issued in Nevada can only be used for a marriage that is performed within Nevada. If the marriage is performed somewhere else with a Nevada marriage license, it is not a legal marriage.

Who may marry?
A male and a female person, at least 18 years of age, who are not more closely related to each other than second cousins or cousins of the half blood. Neither party can still be married to a wife or a husband who is still living. (NRS 122.020(1)).

What if I am not 18 and I want to get married?
If you are at least 16 years old but less than 18 years old, you can only get married if either parent or legal guardian consents. (NRS 122.020(2)). A person who signs as your legal guardian must provide a certified copy of a court order proving that they are your legal guardian. If either parent or a guardian cannot be present, they must complete a consent form in English stating your name, birth date, age and their relationship to you. This form must be signed in front of a notary public. A fax copy of the consent form is acceptable. If a legal guardian is consenting to your marriage and is faxing the consent form, they must also attach a copy of the court order granting full guardianship to the notarized consent form.

If you are less than 16 years old and want to get married, a parent or legal guardian must file an action, pay all required court fees and present a court order from a District Court in Nevada, authorizing the Clerk to issue a marriage license. (NRS 122.025).

What if I am divorced and I want to get married?
You do not need to bring your divorce papers with you. If you have been divorced or if your previous marriage was annulled, the divorce or annulment must be final in the state where it was granted. You must also know the year of the divorce or the annulment and where the papers were filed.

Are blood tests required?
In Nevada, no blood tests are required and there is no waiting period to get married once the parties have obtained a marriage license.

What forms of identification can be used to obtain a marriage license?
Acceptable forms of identification include a valid driver’s license or Instruction permit; a valid ID card issued by the DMV; a valid passport, a certified or original birth certificate; any secondary document that contains the name and a photograph of the applicant;  any document for which identification must be verified as a condition to receipt of the document; such as Certificate of Citizenship, Certificate of Naturalization, Permanent Resident Card or Temporary Resident Card issued by the United State Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security; or a military identification card or military dependent identification card. (NRS 122.040(2)).

Who can perform a marriage ceremony?
Any of the following persons can perform a marriage ceremony:

A licensed or ordained minister; An armed forces chaplain assigned to duty in Nevada; A Nevada Supreme Court justice; A district court judge; A justice of the peace; A municipal judge; A commissioner of civil marriage or deputy commissioner of civil marriages within their county. (NRS 122.062(1), (3); NRS 122.080(1)).

If a marriage ceremony is performed by a person who professes to be a judge, justice, minister, commissioner or deputy commissioner of civil marriages and the person is not authorized to perform the ceremony, the marriage is still valid if it is consummated and if one of the parties believes that they have been lawfully married. (NRS 122.090).

Are any witnesses required to make a marriage valid?
Yes. At least one person other than the people who are being married and the person who is performing the ceremony must witness the marriage. (NRS 122.110(2)).

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Where do I go to get a marriage license in Washoe County?
There are two marriage license bureaus in Washoe County. One is in Reno and the other is in Incline Village.

Both parties must appear in person at either bureau. The fee for a marriage license is $55, payable by cash, money order or traveler’s checks. In Reno only, you may also use a Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card to pay the required fee.

The Reno office is located at 75 Court Street, Reno, NV. It is open from 8 a.m. until midnight Monday-Sunday. The telephone number is 775-328-3274 and the fax number is 775-328-3122.

The Incline Village bureau is located at 893 Southwood Blvd, Incline Village, NV. Its hours of operation are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The office is closed from noon - 1 p.m. each day for lunch. The telephone number is 775-328-3275 and the fax number is 775-832-4166.

A marriage license is valid for up to one year before the ceremony is performed. (NRS 122.040(7)).

Is any particular form of ceremony required?
No. The parties must declare in the presence of the person performing the ceremony and the attending witness that they take each other as husband and wife. (NRS 122.110(1)).

Is there a record of my marriage?
Yes. After the ceremony has been performed, the person who performs the ceremony must deliver the marriage certificate required by NRS 122.120 to the county recorder’s office. (NRS 122.130(1)). The marriage is recorded by the county recorder. (NRS 122.130(3)).

How can I get a certified copy of my marriage certificate?
If you were married in Reno you can obtain a certified copy of your marriage certificate from the Washoe County Recorder’s Office. This office is located in the Washoe County Administration Complex, 1001 E. 9th Street, Building A, Room 150. Each copy costs $10 and takes 10-15 working days to process. If you wish to request a copy by mail, the mailing address is Washoe County Recorder, P.O. Box 11130, Reno, NV 89520-0027. Their hours of operation are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Does Nevada recognize common-law marriage?
No. Common-law marriages are not valid in Nevada. (NRS 122.010).

Does Nevada recognize same-sex marriages?
No.  In 2002, the Nevada Constitution was amended to limit recognition of marriage to marriages between a man and a woman.  (Nevada Constitution, Art. I sec. 21).  Nevada does, however, allow same sex couples to register as a Domestic Partnership.  To do so, they must register their union with the Nevada Secretary of State, and meet the same general requirements as parties desiring to enter into a marriage.  Domestic partners have the same rights, duties and responsibilities to one another as do married partners, and can be required to pay support to one another, and child support for children adopted into their union.  Further, Domestic Partners can accrue community property together, which must then be divided if their union comes to an end.

What is community property? Does Nevada recognize community property?
Yes. Community property is recognized in Nevada. Community property is presumed to include all property other than separate property that is acquired during the marriage by either or both of the parties. (NRS 123.220).

There are some exceptions to the general rule of community property. The parties can agree in writing that property should not be held as community property. (NRS 123.220(1)). A court can order that one of the parties be provided with separate maintenance or award community property to one of the parties (NRS 123.220(2), (4); NRS 123.259). When either party authorizes the other party in writing to use their own earnings, the earnings and any profits that occur from those earnings, become separate property. (NRS 123.220(3); NRS 123.190). Each party has an equal interest in community property and community property is controlled by both parties. (NRS 123.225(1); NRS 123.230).

What is separate property?
Separate property is property that each party owned before the marriage and all property that is acquired after the marriage by gift, devise, or descent. Devise or descent means property that is acquired when someone dies and leaves it to you in a will or you are legally entitled to the property even if the person did not leave it to you in a will. An award for personal injury damages to one of the parties is also considered that party’s separate property. (NRS 123.130). Each party controls their own separate property. (NRS 123.170).

Husbands and wives are not liable for debts that the other party had before the marriage occurred. (NRS 123.050).

What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a signed, written agreement that the parties enter into with each other or with a third party before marriage and in consideration of marriage that defines how the property is to be distributed, the rights and obligations of the parties to property, the parties’ obligation to pay alimony or spousal support or any other matter that does not violate public policy if the marriage should end. The right of a child to child support cannot be eliminated in a prenuptial agreement. (NRS 123A.030(1); NRS 123A.050). If the agreement is not entered into voluntarily, if it is unconscionable, or if one party does not fully disclose his or her property or financial obligations to the other party and the other party did not waive the disclosure in writing and could not reasonably have known about the property and financial obligations, the agreement may not be enforced. (NRS 123A.080).

Does my new spouse have to support me?
Yes. A husband must provide his wife with necessities and a wife must support her husband out of her separate property if he has no separate property, they have no community property and he is unable to support himself. (NRS 123.090; NRS 123.110). Additionally, parents must provide necessary maintenance, health care, education and support to their minor children. (NRS 125B.020(1)).

What is the residency requirement to get a divorce?
Unless the grounds for the divorce occurred within the county while the parties were actually domiciled there, one of the parties must actually live Nevada for six weeks before the divorce petition can be filed. (NRS 125.020(2)).

What are grounds for divorce?
Grounds for divorce in Nevada include:
Insanity that has lasted for two years before the divorce is filed; The parties have lived separately for a year without cohabitation (it is up to the court whether or not to grant a divorce on this ground); Incompatibility. (NRS 125.010).

Does Nevada have a no-fault divorce law?
Yes. The parties must enter into a written agreement that is called a stipulation. The stipulation must be signed by both parties under oath given by the clerk of the court or the clerk’s deputy. The stipulation must state that the parties have met the jurisdictional requirements needed to get a divorce. The stipulation must state that the parties have lived separate and apart for one year or that the parties or incompatible. The stipulation must resolve all issues raised by the pleadings and be accompanied by an affidavit of a person who is competent to testify and who has personal knowledge of the parties’ situation that supports the parties’ claim that they have met the residency requirement to get a divorce. (Chapter 346, Nevada Legislature, Sixty-third Session).

How do I get a divorce?
You will need to file a divorce petition. You can either hire an attorney or handle the divorce yourself. If you want to handle the paperwork yourself, there is a Self-Help Center located on the first floor of the Family Courthouse of the Second Judicial Court, 1 South Sierra Street, Reno, NV. If you obtain the forms from the Self-Help Center, you will be charged a $2 fee. You can obtain the same forms online for free at www.washoecourts.com by clicking on the forms link.

Regardless of whether you hire an attorney or handle your divorce yourself, a judge will consider child custody, child support, financial maintenance of either spouse and property division. As a general rule, all community property assets and debts are divided equally.

What if I can’t afford to support my children after my divorce is final?
The child, the child’s other parent or a child support agency (usually the local district attorney’s office) can sue you for support.  In addition, a wage assignment can be obtained that would automatically deduct the support payment from your paycheck.  (NRS 31A).  Also, liens can be placed on your real or personal property (NRS 125B.142) and your federal income tax refunds can be intercepted to collect past due child support payments. Further, a parent who is more than two months behind in support and owes more than $1,000 can have their driving privilege revoked.  Parents who are even farther behind in child support can be jailed for contempt of court, or sent to prison if they owe more than $10,000 in support.  Professional licenses such as those for lawyers, doctors, accountants and others can be jeopardized by failure to pay child support.

What could happen if I don’t provide support because I don’t think the child is mine?
A paternity action can be started by the child, the child’s mother, a man presumed or alleged to be the child’s father or the district attorney.  (NRS 126.071).  You have the right to ask for blood or DNA tests, and if a man is identified as father he is required to pay for the costs of testing.  (NRS 126.121(1)).  If the question is not resolved, a trial will be held to determine the child’s paternity.  (NRS 126.151).

Can my parental rights be taken away?
Yes. To terminate your parental rights, the court must determine that there is parental fault and that the termination of your parental rights is in your child’s best interest.

Parental fault includes any of the following grounds:
Abandonment of the child; Neglect of the child; Parental unfitness; Failure of parental adjustment; Risk of serious physical, mental or emotional injury to the child if the child is returned to the parents’ home; or the parent or parents have only made token efforts to support or communicate with the child; to prevent the neglect of the child; to avoid being an unfit parent; or to eliminate the risk of serious physical, mental or emotional injury to the child. (NRS 128.105)

Can I agree to give up my child for adoption and still have contact with the child?
Yes. If a biological parent decides to give up his/her parental rights voluntarily (i.e., without the court ordering parental rights to be terminated), Nevada has enacted a statute that enables the biological and adoptive parent or parents to enter into a written agreement concerning future contact between the biological parent(s) and the child. (NRS 127.187). The agreement must be in writing, signed by the parties and incorporated into the adoption decree.

 

This guide is an introduction to narrow topics of Nevada law. Keep in mind that federal, state and local laws are constantly subject to change. If you have a legal question or problem, you should consult an attorney.