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Las Vegas Child Support Attorney

How Is Child Support Calculated In Las Vegas?

Child support laws and calculations are complex topics for many, especially when these laws change. As of February 1, 2020, the formulas for determining a child support obligation changed in Nevada.  While before a specific percentage was applied to an obligor’s gross monthly income, now the percentages have changed as have the income limits for each category. Additionally, there are no longer any presumptive limits applied to limit the amount of support paid for a child. Although there were some significant changes made to child support laws, the foundational process still remains.

For example, the first step to calculating child support is always to identify the paying parent’s gross monthly income. Gross monthly income means salary and wages, interest and investment income, unemployment insurance, Social Security benefits, proceeds from worker’s compensation or personal injury awards, etc.  Gross monthly income for self-employed persons is defined as income after deduction for legitimate business expenses. Then, depending on the amount of income, percentages based on the number of children being supported are applied to arrive at the appropriate amount of child support.

Child Support For 1 Child

Child Support For 2 Children

Child Support For 3 Children

Child Support For 4 Children

Child Support For 5+ Children

Reasons For Deviation From The Nevada Child Support Guidelines

While Nevada’s child support guidelines are presumptively the correct amount, a court can modify the amount of child support if the standard percentages provide a number that would be unjust to a parent or child. In fact, Nevada has a high guidelines deviation rate with the guidelines not being applied in over 35% of child support cases. When deciding whether to deviate from the formula, the judge is required to look at a dozen different factors set out in the law. These factors include the following:

The judge may also determine whether one parent or both are accountable for the child’s medical support, including health insurance. Some of these are given more weight than others when determining the appropriate amount of support.  Once appointed, a child support order can only be adjusted by going back to court when at least 3 years have passed or there is a significant change in the payor’s gross monthly income.  The above formulas apply to cases where one parent is designated as the primary physical custodian.  If you have joint physical custody of your children, there are significant differences in how the amount of child support is arrived at.  Our Las Vegas child support attorney understands how to deliver a strong case for determining the appropriate amount from the child support guidelines and deviating from that amount,  to meet the needs of your child, whether you are the payor or receiver of the child support.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Hire A Lawyer Over Child Support?

No matter if you’re paying child support or you need to collect it for your minor children, a qualified Las Vegas child support attorney can drastically swing the odds in your favor. Even the smallest mistake or oversight in a child support case can leave you with too little for the children or unable to pay your bills. Parents going through a divorce in Clark County or separated parents must be diligent when establishing accurate child support so that it works for everyone involved. Child support can be a stressful and painful issue, even for parents who are trying to be pleasant. Our child support lawyer in Las Vegas can provide knowledgeable advice and effective representation for the following:

What Are Some Of The New Child Support Laws That Took Effect In Nevada On February 1, 2020?

On February 1, 2020, new Nevada child support standards went into effect.  The biggest changes allow people with low to middle incomes to pay less in monthly child support payments. For example, there is no longer a minimum required amount of child support per child.  Under the old laws, a minimum amount of $100 per month of child support was enforceable.  

Child support payments are no longer limited by law.  Both the old statutory presumptive maximum (often known as “the cap”) and the prior $100 statutory presumptive minimum were repealed under the new regulations. Instead of a presumption $100 per month, the requirements now refer to the federal poverty tables, which are updated annually. There is no longer such thing as a presumed maximum.

The new laws specify what constitutes “gross income” in greater detail than what was previously understood as gross income. The concept of gross income is now quite broad, and it even covers terms like “alimony.” This section of the new regulations appears to have the potential to cause litigation in circumstances where one parent owns a business or receives alimony from the other.

Do These New Laws Give Grounds To Seek Modification Of An Order For Child Support?

No.  For the purposes of obtaining a modification, the legislation alone is not a change of circumstances. NRS 125B.145 still applies when it comes to changing a child support order.

What Agency In Nevada Establishes Guidelines For Child Support?

Nev. Rev. Stat. § 425.620 directs the Administrator of the Division of Welfare and Support Services to establish the guidelines for child support and authorizes the agency to promulgate regulations such as Nev. Admin. Code § 425.170(3)Nev. Rev. Stat. § 425.450(1) also commands the agency to establish a formula for the adjustment of child support and the times at which such an adjustment is appropriate. The Legislature specifically directed the agency to ensure the maintenance of effective, efficient, and appropriate guidelines that best serve the interests of the children of Nevada, § 425.620(3), and expressly delegated the ability to determine when modification of child support is appropriate.

Can I Withhold Visitation If the Other Parent Fails to Pay Child Support?

Nev. Rev. Stat. § 425.620 directs the Administrator of the Division of Welfare and Support Services to establish the guidelines for child support and authorizes the agency to promulgate regulations such as Nev. Admin. Code § 425.170(3)Nev. Rev. Stat. § 425.450(1) also commands the agency to establish a formula for the adjustment of child support and the times at which such an adjustment is appropriate. The Legislature specifically directed the agency to ensure the maintenance of effective, efficient, and appropriate guidelines that best serve the interests of the children of Nevada, § 425.620(3), and expressly delegated the ability to determine when modification of child support is appropriate.

What Agency In Nevada Establishes Guidelines For Child Support?

The short answer is NO.  It’s important to understand that the court-ordered parenting plan is the law, no matter the circumstances. Visitation should never be withheld, even if the other parent has failed to pay child support.  When the payor parent is in violation of a child support order, you must take the required steps to hold them accountable. The parent with custody must persist and follow the agreed-upon or court-ordered parenting plan and take any negligent child support matter to the courts. However, if you withhold the child from the other parent, you can put yourself in a very unfortunate situation. You potentially be in violation of the court-ordered parenting plan and could face harsh consequences, including contempt or even jail time.

On the other hand, the parent without custody cannot withhold child support payments in response to the other’s breach of the parenting plan. If you are in a situation where a custodial parent withholds the child, the noncustodial parent should continue making all child support payments. You must understand that a willful breach of a parenting plan may be grounds for modification of the amount of visitation and, in extreme cases, modification of custody.  In the case where the noncustodial parent is seeking to modify child custody, they should contact a qualified Las Vegas child support lawyer as soon as possible to help determine the best steps forward.

I Made A Written Agreement With My Former Spouse That Neither Party Will Be Obligated To Pay Child Support. Is This Enforceable?

No. The payment of child support is a right that belongs to the child and not to the parent. Consequently, a parent can not waive a right that does not belong to them.

Can The Requirement To Pay Child Support Be Waived By Making Promises In Other Areas?

No. The court cannot and will not approve any deal that eliminates child support based on promises in other areas since it is against public policy and Nevada law.  That is not to say that every child support order must allow payment of some amount for child support but such an approach is only viable in limited situations.  A mother, for example, cannot persuade a child’s biological father that she will forgo child support if he agrees to remain away from the child. In a divorce, promising extra assets in exchange for removing or reducing support is also not wise. 

It’s always crucial to keep in mind that child-related issues can be modified. Any child support, custody, or parenting time agreements or orders can be modified, whether by agreement or through a court order. For example, if a parent agrees to give the other parent a retirement account in lieu of child support, the parent who owes child support could later petition the court for a support adjustment. In that case, there would be no way to change the allocation of property, and the parent that proffered the property would lose out on the benefit of the bargain.

Is A Promise Made In Writing To Support A Child That I Believe Is Mine Enforceable If Paternity Has Not Been Determined?

Yes. NRS 126.900(1) provides that “[a]ny promise in writing to furnish support for a child, growing out of a supposed or alleged parent and child relationship, does not require consideration and is enforceable according to its terms.”

How Far Back Can A Custodial Parent File For Retroactive Child Support?

A parent may file for retroactive child support after a child has reached the age of majority under NRS 125B.030. 

NRS 125B.030 provides that: [w]here the parents of a child do not reside together, the physical custodian of the child may recover from the parent without physical custody a reasonable portion of the cost of care, support, education, and maintenance provided by the physical custodian. In the absence of a court order for the support of a child, the parent who has physical custody may recover not more than 4 years’ support furnished before the bringing of the action to establish an obligation for the support of the child.

NRS 125B.030 does not limit when an action for the support of the child may be brought. Instead, the statute limits the recovery for retroactive child support to the 4 years immediately preceding the action. This is not to say, however, that there is no limit on when a parent may bring an action for retroactive child support. NRS 126.081(1) provides that an action to establish paternity “is not barred until 3 years after the child reaches the age of majority.” And NRS 126.161(4)(a) provides that a judgment or order establishing paternity “may … [c]ontain any other provision directed against the appropriate party to the proceeding, concerning the duty of support.” Thus, NRS Chapter 126 contemplates the imposition of retroactive child support obligations in paternity actions filed within 3 years after the child attains the age of majority.

If My Child Has Special Needs Can I Be Ordered To Pay Child Support Past The Age Of Majority?

Yes.  NRS 125B.110 governs when a parent has to support a child with a handicap or special needs beyond the age of majority. Parents can be ordered to make child support payments beyond the age of 18, until the child is no longer handicapped, or the child becomes self-supporting pursuant to NRS 125B.110 (1-2)

What Is The Standard For A District Court To Modify A Child Support Order?

The District Court reviews decisions regarding child support for an abuse of discretion. Rivero v. Rivero, 125 Nev. at 438, 216 P.3d at 232 (2009). A district court may modify a child support order if there has been a change in circumstances and the modification is in the child’s best interest. Rivero, at 431, 216 P.3d at 228.

How is Child Support Calculated In Cases Where One Parent Has Primary Physical Custody And The Other Has Visitation Rights?

In cases where one party has primary physical custody and the other has visitation rights, Barbagallo v. Barbagallo, 105 Nev. 546, 779 P.2d 532 (1989), controls. Under these circumstances, the court applies the statutory formulas and the noncustodial parent pays the custodial parent support. Id. at 548, 779 P.2d at 534. The court may use the factors under NRS 125B.080(9) to deviate from the formulas. The Barbagallo court cited “standard of living and circumstances of the parents” and the “earning capacity of the parents” as the most important of these factors.  Id. at 551, 779 P.2d at 536. Under the current version of NRS 125B.080, this focus on the financial circumstances of the parties is reflected in several factors, including: “the relative income of both parents,” the cost of health care and child care, “[a]ny public assistance paid to support the child,” “expenses related to the mother’s pregnancy and confinement,” visitation transportation costs in some circumstances, and “[a]ny other necessary expenses for the benefit of the child.” NRS 125B.080(9). All the other statutory factors, such as the amount of time a parent spends with a child, are of lesser weight. Barbagallo, 105 Nev. at 551, 779 P.2d at 536.

The Nevada Supreme Court has noted that joint physical custody increases the total cost of raising the child. Id. at 549-50, 779 P.2d at 535.  The amount of time that a parent spends with a child might, but does not necessarily, reduce the cost of raising the child to the custodial parent. Id. The amount of time spent with the child, along with the other lesser-weighted factors in 125B.080(9), can serve as a basis for the district court to modify a support award, upon a showing by the secondary custodian that payment of the statutory formula amount would be unfair or unjust given his or her “substantial contributions of a financial or equivalent nature to the support of the child.” Id. at 552, 779 P.2d at 536. This approach has remained unchanged by the adoption of the new definition of joint physical custody because it only applies to situations in which one party has primary physical custody and the other has visitation rights.

How Often And Under What Circumstances Can An Award Of Child Support Be Modified Or Reviewed?

Nev. Rev. Stat. § 125.510(1)(b) and Nev. Rev. Stat. § 125B.145(4) declares that an order for the support of a child may be reviewed at any time on the basis of changed circumstances and adds that a change of 20 percent or more in a child support obligor’s gross monthly income shall be deemed to constitute changed circumstances requiring a review for modification of the order for the support of a child. 

Further, upon the request of a parent or legal guardian, order for the support of a child must be reviewed by the court at least every 3 years to determine whether the order should be modified or adjusted. § 125B.145(1)(b)

Finally, § 125B.145(2)(b) specifies that, if the court has jurisdiction to modify the order and, taking into account the best interests of the child, determines that modification or adjustment of the order is appropriate, the court shall enter an order modifying or adjusting the previous order for support in accordance with the requirements of Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 125B.070 and 125B.080.

When Does Child Support End In Nevada?

Nevada lawmakers have delineated specific language detailing when a child support order is to be completed. The revised statute explicitly states that an order pertaining to the payment of child support in Nevada will terminate when the child reaches 18 years old or, if the child is still in high school, the child support order ends when the child graduates high school or turns 19 years old, whichever is earlier. However, if more than one child is included in a child support order and the oldest child reaches 18 years of age or graduates high school, then a motion to modify the order must be filed to adjust the total amount of support for the unemancipated minor children still remaining under the order. There are many nuances when it comes to child support orders in Nevada, that’s why it’s imperative to have one of the top Las Vegas child support attorneys in your corner throughout the process.

Contact A Las Vegas Child Support Attorney Today

No matter the type of divorce you’re going through, if you have children, you will be required to make crucial decisions regarding child support. Whether you are paying or receiving, you should seek the help of an experienced Las Vegas child support attorney to ensure that your child support plan is fair and mutually agreeable. We understand how stressful this time can be for a family, that’s why we make sure no stone is left unturned when representing your case. Contact the Spartacus Law Firm today for a free case evaluation and to learn more about how we can help.

Contact Spartacus Family Law

2777 Paradise Road Suite 3006
Las Vegas, NV 89109

(702) 660-1234