What To Do if Your Spouse Dies During a Divorce
Divorce is a long and stressful process. A contested divorce can take years to resolve completely. There is always the chance that during that time, your spouse could die either by natural causes, or an accident. While this is rare, when it happens, it can leave you with many questions. What does the state of Nevada say about the divorce presses when one spouse dies? Do divorce proceedings continue? Do you have the right to your spouse’s estate?
According to rights that married couples enjoy by the state of Nevada, if your spouse dies during the divorce proceedings, the divorce proceedings will immediately stop and you will be considered a widow or widower. This means that you can never be granted a divorce if you have a deceased spouse. Your divorce proceedings will end when your spouse dies. Your marital assets will now be moved to the probate court, and your spouse’s estate will be distributed through that process instead of a divorce proceeding. You are now legally considered a widow or widower and will have rights and benefits legally as a spouse. Even if some of the matters in the divorce were decided, the entire divorce process will end and all estate matters will now go through the probate court.
If one spouse has a terminal illness or expects that for whatever reason they may pass away before the divorce finalization, they can request a motion for bifurcation. This legal concept will allow the divorce to proceed, however, the court will not actually allocate the assets and liabilities of the spouses. The distribution of assets and debts will be handled at a later time.
Allocation of Property, Debts, and Child Custody
Again, if a spouse dies during the divorce process, the living spouse will retain all legal rights to assets, property, death benefits, life insurance, and retirement accounts. Additionally, the living spouse will also be responsible for any remaining debts. Finally, the living spouse will retain sole physical and legal custody of any shared children.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If prior to the divorce proceeding being finalized, your spouse dies in an accident deemed to be a wrongful death, as a living spouse, you have the right in the state of Nevada to file a wrongful death lawsuit, even though divorce proceedings were pending. This is because the divorce was never finalized and you are officially still legally married to your spouse and will enjoy all legal benefits of that marriage, including filing a wrongful death suit.
Let Us Help You Today
While infrequent, spouses do die during divorce proceedings. If this has happened to you in either a contested or uncontested divorce, visiting with one of our experienced divorce attorneys can help you understand your rights in this very unique situation. The experienced Las Vegas divorce attorneys at Ghandi Deeter Blackham Law Offices can help you determine your next steps if you had a spouse die during the divorce process. Please contact one of our attorneys at 410-535-5500 today for your free consultation.