Your spouse has 20 days after being served with the summons and complaint to file their own papers. Your next step will depend on what your spouse does.
If you changed your mind about the divorce and want to dismiss your case, you can do so at any time before the Defendant files a response. The forms and instructions are in the Voluntary Dismissal Packet (pdf). If the Defendant has filed a response but you both want to stop the divorce, the two of you can Stipulate to Dismiss the Case instead.
You can ask the Court to issue a “Default” against your spouse, which means that no papers were filed by the 20 day deadline. If approved, a default generally stops your spouse from filing their paperwork. You must fill out a Default form and bring it to the Clerk’s Office for review and approval.
If you do not get a default against your spouse, he or she can still file their papers past the 20 day deadline. After the 20 days is up, it is usually a matter of who gets to the courthouse first to file their papers.
If the Clerk enters a default against your spouse, you can ask the judge to give you a final divorce immediately. You will need to file a few more documents and then prepare a divorce decree that includes all of the same things you asked for in your complaint. Usually you can send your proposed divorce decree to the judge for approval without a hearing, but sometimes judges want you to appear at a short hearing first. See Getting the Final Decree for more information on how to get your divorce finalized.
There are a number of things that will happen after your spouse files an Answer. You will have to file some additional papers, and the judge will schedule a hearing that both of you must attend.
Papers You Must File
First, look at the answer to find out if it includes a “counterclaim.” A counterclaim looks a lot like your complaint, and will tell you what your spouse wants out of the divorce. If your spouse included a counterclaim, you can file a “Reply to the Counterclaim.” Your reply tells the judge what parts of the counterclaim you agree with, disagree with, or do not know enough information about. You only need to write paragraph numbers in the reply. For instance, if you agree with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd paragraphs in the counterclaim, you would write “1, 2, 3” in the reply on the line that says “Plaintiff admits the following allegations.”
Second, you have to file a Financial Disclosure Form within 30 days of when your spouse filed the answer (your spouse has to file one also). The Financial Disclosure Form, or “FDF,” gives information about your employment, your income, your expenses, your property, and your debts. This is information helps the judge to have an idea of what financial issues are involved in the divorce. If you do not fill out this form completely and accurately, the court may rule against you.
For "high asset" divorces where the parties own $1 million or more in gross assets, or the combined gross income of the parties is $250,000 or more per year, or where either spouse is self-employed or the owner or partner of a business, the parties can ask to opt into the "Complex Divorce Litigation Procedures" under NRCP 16.2(c)(2). This requires both parties to file a Detailed Financial Disclosure Form (this form can be found on the Divorce Forms page) and raises many other litigation requirements. Anyone taking part in a Complex Divorce case is highly encouraged to retain an attorney. You can learn more about finding an attorney under Lawyers & Legal Help.
Wait for a Court Date
If your spouse filed an answer, the judge will set a court date in about 90 days. The hearing is called a “Case Management Conference.” You will receive a notice in the mail from the court with the hearing date included. Visit Case Management Conference for more information about this hearing.
Ask for a Referral to the Family Mediation Center
Whenever parents cannot agree on custody or visitation for their children, the court requires the parents to attempt mediation. You can start this process yourself rather than waiting for a judge to order you to go to mediation. See Family Mediation Center for more information.
File Motions for Temporary Orders
You might have some issues you want the judge to sort out while the divorce case is going on. This could include who should live in the house, where the children should live, when each parent should have time with the children, whether either spouse should pay temporary alimony or child support, etc.
A judge can issue temporary orders to guide the parties while the divorce case is moving forward. Either spouse can file a motion for temporary orders at any time before the final divorce is granted. Please visit Motions for Temporary Orders for more information.