New Alimony Case from the Nevada Supreme Court

By Rayna Brachmann, Esq.

The Nevada Supreme Court issued a new case dealing with the issue of alimony in Nevada.  Kogod v. Cioffi-Kogod was published on April 25, 2019.

The Nevada Supreme Court held that “alimony can be ‘just and equitable’ both when necessary to support the economic needs of a spouse and to compensate for a spouse’s economic losses from the marriage and divorce, including the equalize post divorce earnings or help maintain the marital standard of living.”

The Court analyzed Nevada’s case law and determined that alimony is justified in cases where there is an economic power imbalance between spouses and to ensure that the economically disadvantaged spouse receives support sufficient to meet his or her needs.

In addition to economic need, alimony is appropriate in cases where it compensates a spouse for economic losses resulting from the marriage and the divorce.  A classic example of this is the spouse who gives up his or her career options in order to move for the other spouse’s job which requires relocation regularly.  A spouse who is a stay at home parent would be another classic example.  Nevada case law has specifically recognized alimony as “a remedy to make a spouse whole at the end of a marriage by rewarding efforts in homemaking, childrearing, interruption of a career, or contributions to the success of the other.”

The Court again recognized the value in trying to provide the economically disadvantaged spouse resources to maintain a lifestyle as similar to the marriage lifestyle as possible.

The Kogod Court stated, “A large gap in income, alone, does not decide alimony.  The award must meet the receiving spouse’s economic needs or compensate for economic losses resulting from the marriage and subsequent divorce.”  The Court specifically reiterated that the law does not require alimony awards so as to effectively equalize post divorce salaries.  Kogod holds that justice and equity only require alimony to achieve more parity in post divorce income levels where there is:

  1. Economic need;
  2. The marriage and subsequent divorce contributed to the disparate income levels; or
  3. One spouse cannot maintain the marital standard of living while the other spouse maintains or exceeds the marital standard of living.

The Court went on to state that a District Court cannot award alimony solely to achieve income parity between divorcing spouses.

In the Kogod case, the spouse receiving alimony receiving a division of community assets which generated an income sufficient to meet her post divorce financial needs.  The Nevada Supreme Court found that the District Court did not give sufficient regard to the income potential the recipient spouse had based on the property division.  The Court held, “The principles underlying . . . alimony do not contemplate an award for a spouse who is, after the community is divided, capable of supporting him or her self, able to maintain the marital standard of living on his or her own, and not economically disadvantaged in his or her earning capacity as a result of marriage.”

Kimberly Surratt served for eight years on the executive council and has been the vice chair and then chair of the State Bar of Nevada Family Law Section. In addition, she is the President-Elect of the Nevada Justice Association and the chair of the domestic lobbying committee. She has lobbied with the Nevada Justice Association since 2004.

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