Child Support

 

Child support calculator effective February, 2020:

Willick Law Group Child Support Calculator

 

As of February 1, 2020, Nevada made the most sweeping changes to its child support laws in over 30 years.  The prior Nevada child support statutes in Chapter 125B of the Nevada Revised Statutes were entirely replaced by administrative regulations set out as Chapter 425 of the Nevada Administrative Code, which may be reviewed at https://www.leg.state.nv.us/NAC/NAC-425.html.

Those regulations, and the case law, 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).  The obligation could extend indefinitely for a handicapped child.

Nevada Child Support Formula

The math involved in the new calculations is more complicated than in the prior child support statutes.  Instead of the simple percentages-per-child with statutory presumptive maximums, the new regulations require a varying percentage of gross monthly income on the first $6,000 of income, depending on the number of children, a lower percentage on the next $4,000, and a still-lower percentage for income exceeding $10,000 per month.

The new regulations eliminated both the prior statutory presumptive maximum (sometimes called “the cap”) and the prior $100 statutory presumptive minimum.  Now, on the low end of incomes, instead of a presumptive $100 per month, the regulations adopt reference to the federal poverty tables, which change annually.  There is no presumptive maximum.

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.

Where there is joint custody of one or more children, the existing “offset” method is used in the new regulations.  Where there is a mix of primary custody and joint custody, each parent’s obligation to the other is separately calculated and then offset.

The commission has work to do in future years.  For example, where alimony paid or received fits into the calculations is unclear.  The existing regulations also say nothing about multiple family situations, which some people term “serial parents” – situations where a person might have children in common with two or more other parents.

For some ideas of how to address serial parent situations, see Legal Note Vol. 32 — How to Calculate Child Support with Multiple Families, posted at https://www.willicklawgroup.com/vol-32-how-to-calculate-child-support-with-multiple-families/.

Free Tools to Calculate Child Support Under the Regulations

As part of our work creating the full MLAW Child Support program, we developed a dynamic estimator under the regulations – its free, and posted on the main landing page of www.willicklawgroup.com under the heading “New Child Support Regulations Interactive Graph: Click here to learn more.”

It allows anyone to get a quick view of support across a range of numbers of children and income levels in a couple seconds, and takes into account the poverty-level alterations for low income cases.

The full MLAW Child Support program is designed in question-and-answer format, to take into account the split custody situations and do automatic calculations of the offsets, taking into account the poverty guidelines on the low end, and do the math for medical and child care costs.  It takes only moments to enter all required information.

We have donated it to public use, and made it available on line to anyone, from any device, in all Nevada self-help centers, the law libraries, and the courtrooms (at least in Clark County) so even pro se litigants can quickly and correctly calculate support under the new regulations.

You can get to the program at Willick Law Group Child Support Calculator.  It has been added to the landing page for the WLG and QDRO Masters web sites, and is an option for anyone logging into the home page of MLAW as well.  Results can be printed to take to court.

The program will be tweaked as the regulations are altered, as we have been told they will be, for example to provide better methodology for dealing with alimony in child support calculations, and other complications.

 

Details on How the New Regulations Calculate Support Obligations

Replacing the prior statutes’ “total amount of income” language, the regulations try to define “gross monthly income” (GMI) with greater specificity.  GMI expressly does include:

1. Salary and wages, including, without limitation, money earned from overtime pay if such overtime pay is substantial, consistent and can be accurately determined.
2. Interest and investment income not including the principal.
3. Social Security disability and old-age insurance benefits under Federal law.
4. Any periodic payment from a pension, retirement plan or annuity that is considered “remuneration for employment.”
5. Net proceeds resulting from workers’ compensation or other personal injury awards intended to replace income.
6. Unemployment insurance.
7. Income continuation benefits.
8. Voluntary contributions to a deferred compensation plan, employee contributions to an employee benefit or profit-sharing plan, and voluntary employee contributions to any pension or retirement account, regardless of whether the account provides for tax deferral or avoidance.
9. Military allowances and veterans’ benefits.
10. Compensation for lost wages.
11. Undistributed income of a business entity in which a party has an ownership interest sufficient to individually exercise control over or access the earnings of the business, unless the income is included as an asset for the purposes of imputing income pursuant to a separate section of the proposed guidelines.  The regulations further define what is included:
a. “Undistributed income” means federal taxable income of a business entity plus depreciation claimed on the entity’s federal                   income tax return less a reasonable allowance for economic depreciation.
b. A “reasonable allowance for economic depreciation” means the amount of depreciation on assets computed using the straight-           line method and useful lives as determined under federal income tax laws and regulations.
12. Child care subsidy payments if a party is a child care provider.
13. Alimony.
14. All other income of a party, regardless of whether such income is taxable.

GMI under the new guidelines expressly does not include:

1. Child support received.
2. Foster care or kinship care payments.
3. Benefits received under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
4. Cash benefits paid by a country.
5. Supplemental security income benefits and state supplemental payments.
6. Except as otherwise provided in the guidelines, payments made for social services or any other public assistance benefits.
7. Compensation for losses, including, without limitation, both general and special damages, from personal injury awards not intended to replace income.

 

Other Notable Changes from Prior Nevada Child Support Law

Voluntary unemployment or underemployment no longer needs to be proven to be “for the purpose of avoiding child support” to result in imputation of income for the obligor parent.  Imputed support now explicitly looks to the assets of the obligor, along with other factors.

The 10% penalty provision has been prospectively eliminated.  Interest at the legal rate continues to accrue on all child support that is due but unpaid.

Courts are now required to “consider” the reasonable costs of child care paid by either or both parties and make an equitable division of those costs.

Each court is required to require that “medical support,” including the cost of insurance, be provided, but there is no specified requirement for how to divide that cost between parents.”

Time will tell as to what some of the undefined terms mean.

The prior “deviation factors” have been shortened, eliminating the prior included considerations for cost of pregnancy, amount of time spent with the child, the child’s age, and medical insurance and care expenses, which are now provided for separately.

There is now mandatory process for stipulating to child support outside of the numbers that would be provided by the regulations.

Incarceration of a parent may for 6 months or longer is not be treated as “voluntary unemployment.”

If an order of support for multiple children does not break out the “per child” sum, it continues even after one of the children emancipates until a motion or stipulation is filed.

 

Other Statutory and Case Law Requirements for Child Support Orders

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)

Other CLE Materials, Articles, and Resources

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About the Author

Marshal S. Willick, Esq. is the Principal of the Willick Law Group, an A/V-rated Las Vegas family law firm, and QDROMasters, its pension order drafting division.

He can be reached at
3591 East Bonanza Rd., Ste. 200, Las Vegas, NV 89110-2198.
Phone: (702) 438-4100
Fax: (702) 438-5311
Email[email protected]