Nevada Child Support

The Nevada child support obligations are set out in Chapter 125B of the Nevada Revised Statutes. Those statutes, and the cases decided pursuant to them, govern who has an obligation, how long the obligation lasts, what the obligation is, when and how the obligation may be modified, and limited issues regarding collection of the obligation.

Basically, all parents have a duty to support their children, regardless of marital status. The duty of support continues until 18 (or 19, if the child is still in high school). It could extend indefinitely for a handicapped child.

Nevada Child Support Formula

The Nevada child support formula is set forth in NRS 125B.070. From 1987 to July, 2002, a parent’s child support obligation was the percent of his or her gross monthly income (18% for one child, 25% for two children, 29% for three children, 31% for four children, and 2% for each additional child above four children), but not more than $500.00 per month, per child.

In 2001, the Nevada Legislature altered these provisions to clarify that the support award must be stated as a sum certain dollar amount corresponding to the relevant percentage, and that, starting in July, 2002, the presumptive maximum amount of the award varied in accordance with the obligor’s gross monthly income. Since that time, the relevant child support “presumptive maximum” changes each year. Medical expenses, including the cost of insurance, is usually to be split between the parents in addition to any support that is paid.

The amount of child support set out in the basic statute, however, may be modified in accordance with a list of statutory factors governing deviation from the statutory percentages. The Nevada Supreme Court has issued a considerable number of opinions discussing when deviation is and is not appropriate.

In the 1998 Wright v. Osburn case, the Nevada Supreme Court held that in 50/50 joint custody cases, child support would offset, so that the parent with the higher income would pay support to the parent with the lower income. In 2003, in Wesley v. Foster, the Court clarified that the offset should take place before, not after, application of the statutory presumptive maximums. And in the 2009 Rivero v. Rivero case, the Court extended that offset calculation to all “joint custody” cases, which it defined as all cases in which the parents share custody 60/40 or closer.

Apparently, as a matter of public policy, child support may not be made non-modifiable, regardless of the agreement of the parties to make it so, as the Nevada Supreme Court held in Ferandez v. Fernandez.

Where the parents are separated, and only one of them has been providing for the child, it is possible to obtain an order for up to four years’ back support. Once a support award has been established, however, amounts that have accrued are generally not retroactively modifiable.

Statutory interest, and certain penalties, accrue on child support that is due but unpaid. Mr. Willick developed the software (known as the “Marshal Law Judgment and Interest Calculator,” or “MLaw”) that is in use throughout this state that calculates the amount of interest and penalties due on unpaid child support. That software is (of course) used in all child support arrearage cases handled by this office, and is available for use at the Clark County self-help center as well. More detail can be found on our Interest & Penalties page.

A special statute called the “Uniform Interstate Family Support Act,” or “UIFSA,” governs the establishment and enforcement of child support orders when the parents live in different States.

WILLICK LAW GROUP has extensive experience in child support cases. Mr. Willick chaired the State Bar of Nevada Committee that reviewed Nevada’s child support laws in 1992 and 1996, and several attorneys of the firm have written and lectured on the subject.

From a CLE in Nevada on Family Law Jurisdiction (Nov. 1, 2012)

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