What Is “Residency” and Why Does It Matter?

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“Jurisdiction” is a significant legal concept that means “to speak the law” in Latin. Why is this important? Because any court in this country must have jurisdiction over the people and subject matters in a lawsuit to enter enforceable orders. This is no exception when it comes to a divorce, where courts can only properly have jurisdiction when at least one spouse has adequate connections to the state.

What is “Residency”?

A court’s connections to a state are measured by a party’s “residency”— where the party has lived preceding the filing of a lawsuit. For many types of lawsuits, like bankruptcy or child custody, residency is established where a person has resided for the six months preceding a lawsuit. Further, many states in this country require that same six months of residency prior to filing for divorce.

Nevada is different and has a much shorter residency requirement than most other states. Under the Nevada Revised Statutes section 125.020, a court may exercise jurisdiction over a divorce suit if the party filing has resided in the state for at least six weeks. This means that in contrast to states like California, where a spouse can only establish residency to file for divorce after six months, it only takes six weeks to establish residency in Nevada.

To meet the six-week requirement, a spouse must live continuously and uninterrupted in Nevada for the entire six week period. And to prove this residency, the spouse has to submit an “affidavit of resident witness”, which is a sworn statement from any Nevada resident who can attest that the person has lived here for those six weeks.

So for example, if you own real estate in Reno and wish to benefit from filing for divorce in a Reno court, then you must live in your property for six weeks and regularly communicate with a friend, business associate, acquaintance, employee, or other person who resides in Nevada. If one of the grounds for divorce (i.e. “incompatibility” or a one year separation) exists, then you can file and properly seek a divorce in Reno.

Why is Nevada’s Short Residency Requirement Significant?

If you have a home in Nevada or plan to live here after your divorce, there are benefits of filing for divorce in Nevada as opposed to other states. For example, Nevada is a no-fault divorce state, which literally takes a lot of the drama and unpredictability out of obtaining a divorce decree, dividing property, and alimony. Further, the six-week residency requirement means that you can move more quickly than in other states. This sometimes means that you can file for divorce before your spouse, which allows you to set the tone and deadlines of the divorce, as opposed to being caught off guard. It also puts you in the best position to identify and protect marital property and to preserve your property rights—especially when you have valuable property holdings in Nevada.

Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P. is Here for You

Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman, L.L.P. is a full service law firm focused on providing high quality legal representation to individuals. If you need assistance navigating your way through the end of your marriage, you can trust our team of highly experienced attorneys. We will treat you with the compassion and respect you deserve, and fight for your legal interests. Call Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P. today at (775) 227-2280 to schedule an initial consultation or contact our office through our website.

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