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Nevada As An Equal Disposition Community Property State

Under Nevada law, all property that a spouse did not receive before the marriage or after the marriage by bequest, gift, devise, descent, or a personal injury award is considered to be community property. Nev. Rev. Stat. § 123.220; NRS § 123.130. The purpose of the statute is to determine how property, both real and personal, would be distributed if a divorce occurred between a married couple. Nevada is an equal disposition state, meaning that the property deemed to be community property will be distributed equally between the two spouses. However, the court may allow an unequal distribution of property if there is a compelling reason set forth in writing to allow an unequal distribution. NRS § 150(1)(b). Although the NRS does not define what constitutes a compelling reason to allow an unequal distribution, Nevada precedent has clearly defined the bounds of this notion.

The Nevada Supreme Court has determined that the following situations constitutes a compelling reason to allow an unequal disposition of community property: 1) financial misconduct through waste and secretion of assets during the divorce process; 2) negligent loss of community property; 3) destruction of community property; 4) unauthorized fts of community property; and 5) compensation for losses by the breakup of the marriage. Putterman v. Putterman, 113 Nev. 606, 608, 939 P.2d 1047, 1048 (1997). If the community property is “lost, expended or destroyed” intentional misconduct by one spouse, the court may make an unequal disposition of the community property once it is set forth in writing. Lofgren v. Lofgren, 112 Nev. 1282, 1284, 926 P.2d 296, 297 (1996).

These compelling reasons listed essentially have a financial component that allows a court to discretionarily allow an unequal distribution of community property. However, not every bad act committed by a spouse is considered when determining whether an unequal disposition would apply. Nevada is a no–fault state, so instances of adultery, spousal abuse, or other bad conduct is not typically considered when determining whether an unequal disposition applies. Rodriguez v. Rodriguez, 116 Nev. 993, 997, 13 P.3d 415, 417 (2000). If a spouse is able to show that there is an economic consequence stemming from the spouse abuse or marital misconduct, there is a chance that the court may allow an unequal disposition. Wheeler v. Upton–Wheeler, 113 Nev. 1185, 1190, 946 P.2d 200, 203 (1997). Thus, an adverse economic impact is required for an unequal disposition to be made based upon marital misconduct. Id. 

The Nevada community property laws are very distinct in how property would be allocated should a married couple undergo a divorce proceeding. Community property will receive an equal disposition if there are no compelling reasons to allow the court to consider an unequal disposition. Further, the compelling reasons must be set forth in writing. The compelling reasons, as determined in Nevada precedent, specifically regard financial misconduct. Since Nevada is a no–fault divorce jurisdiction, marital misconduct will cannot solely allow for an unequal disposition. However, if the marital misconduct is accompanied with an adverse economic impact, the court may consider an unequal disposition of the property. 
Thanks to a accident Lawyer with our friends at Eglet Adams for their insight on community property laws in Nevada; if you were in an accident and need help determining who owns the property where it occurred, contact a lawyer near you for help.