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Understanding Child Support

Misunderstanding Nevada’s child support laws can cause you to unknowingly accept less or pay more than your rightful share, which is the last thing you need when going through a difficult break-up or divorce.

Primary Physical Custody: When one parent has primary physical custody (i.e., children reside with that parent most of the time), the other parent is obligated to pay monthly child support. Generally, the amount is based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s gross monthly income up to a legal maximum. For example, a non-custodial father who has two minor children will likely be required to pay 25% of his gross monthly income.

Joint Physical Custody: When parents share joint physical custody (i.e., children reside with both parents relatively equally), the higher wage-earning parent must usually still pay child support. The amount, however, is typically offset by the other parent’s gross monthly income. For example, if mom earns $5,000 per month and dad earns $4,000, mom’s child support obligation will likely be a percentage of $1,000–the difference between their monthly incomes.

Deviations from Statutory Guidelines: Courts have discretion to deviate from standard support formulas based on a variety of factors, including relative incomes, other support obligations, a child’s age or special needs, or the cost of insurance, child care, transportation or services contributed.

Modifications: You are entitled to have your child support order reviewed for modification every 3 years or upon a showing of changed circumstances, such as a change in income of 20% or more.

Enforcement: If you aren’t receiving your child support payments, you can garnish or lien bank accounts, paychecks, unemployment benefits, tax returns and real estate, have driver’s licenses and passports suspended, or file a contempt action. Even without an existing court order, you may still be able to collect up to 4 years of arrearages.

Don’t let ignorance of your support rights add an unnecessary financial burden to the inevitable sleepless nights and emotional roller-coaster you’re already experiencing. Contact a competent attorney.

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