Nevada Child Support Laws are changing in February 2020!
Not sure how the new laws will affect you? Don't worry.
We've put in the work for you reviewing the new laws and listening to the child support committee's hearings and we've broken down the new child support laws Step-By-Step.
Even better . . . we've created a child support calculator so that you don't have spend countless hours trying to figure out how much your child support is going to change.
In this article you will learn:
So let's get to it!
Why Did Nevada Change The Child Support Laws and What Changed Exactly?
Federal law requires each state to re-consider its child support laws every 4 years. People receiving and paying child support in Nevada, along with others, told the Nevada Legislature it was time for a change.
So that's why Nevada lawmakers decided to change the child support laws...but you might be asking "what changed?"
In a nutshell, everything!
Nevada lawmakers gave us better definitions for "what is considered income when calculating child support?" They also told us who would be responsible for paying child support and who could receive child support.
Law makers also considered special circumstances when calculating child support like "what happens when a parent who is supposed to pay child support is incarcerated?"
- Or -
"Are both parents responsible for day-care costs for a child?"
Under the OLD statutes, these circumstances were not expressly written down so judges had a hard time awarding child support under these, and other special circumstances. This led to really inconsistent rulings, lots of appeals and really unhappy parents. With the new laws, parents should find more consistent child support rulings from their family court judge.
While this information is great, what you really need to know is that there are 4 major changes to the child support statutes:
Change #1: There are no longer any statutory caps on child support.
This means that if you are a high income earner, or if your child support was reduced under the old statutes down to the "max" (or statutory cap), the caps will no longer apply. So, if you are supposed to pay child support, the calculations will be performed and you will no longer get a break downward to a presumptive maximum support.
Change #2: There are also no minimums for support.
Just like there is no maximum amount of support, there are no longer minimum contributions for a parent for support. It used to be that a parent would be required to pay $100 per month per child. Under the new statutes, this is no longer the case.
Change #3: The child support percentages and calculations have changed.
This is probably the biggest change to the Nevada Child Support Laws. The percentages are different and based on a tiered scale of income. For more information on this change, keep reading or check out our child support calculator to skip straight to the new child support calculations.
Change #4: The new laws explain how child support ends.
For parents and child support lawyers this is SUPER helpful because the old statutes did not give any guidance on how to end child support. With the new laws, the procedure and circumstances for ending child support are crystal clear.
So now that you know why changes to laws were made and what the major changes are, let's get into how those changes might affect you!
What is considered "income" for the purposes of child support?
This might sound totally crazy but under the old laws judges could use whatever they wanted to as income in order to calculate child support.
This meant that if you received a driving allowance from your employer or if your employer contributed to your 401(k) plan, your family court judge could consider this income and raise your child support payments.
Because there was no good explanation of what judges could and could not consider, every judge would consider different things as "income." This led to some wild decisions and very inconsistent rulings.
So . . .when the legislature was tasked with fixing the Nevada Child Support Laws, it's not surprising that one of the first things they fixed was how to define income for the purposes of calculating child support.
Under the new laws here's what your judge will consider as income:
✔ Salary and wages from employment: This one is pretty basic and really needs no explanation. It's just your pay.
✔ Overtime pay from employment as long as the overtime is consistent, substantial and can be accurately determined: We expect this one to create problems as most people don't have "consistent" overtime. The legislature didn't define what "substantial" means either is it 10% of regular wages or 50%? We expect that if you have overtime ever check or every other check and your overtime accounts for at least 20% of your wages, you should expect your overtime pay to be factored into a child support calculation
✔ Interest and investment income: If you are receiving income from stocks, rental income from an investment home or other investment income, this will be used in child support calculations.
✔ Social security disability benefits: We know you're thinking "but this is federal payments. How can the State consider this income?" Long story short, both federal and state laws consider disability payments as income for the purposes of calculating child support.
✔ Old-age benefits under federal law: Think Social Security and other benefits you might get for being a certain age.
✔ Pensions payments and retirement payments: If you are receiving pension or retirement payments, this will be factored into income to calculate child support.
✔ Annuity payments from employment: Just like pension payments, annuity payments from income will also be used to calculate child support
✔ Proceeds from a worker’s compensation claim: The only portion that can be used for child support is the part intended to replace income. So let's say work comp says you are 100% disabled and you receive $1,000 a month in work comp payments of which $500 is for pain and suffering and $500 is for lost income, the only part that can be used for child support calculations is the $500 for lost income
✔ Proceeds from a personal injury claim: This work just like the worker's compensation claim. Only the amount intended to replace income can be used for child support calculations.
✔ Unemployment: This one really needs no explanation. If you receive unemployment pay, you should expect to pay child support from that benefit.
✔ Income continuation benefits: Here, think severance pay.
✔ Voluntary contributions to a deferred compensation plan, employee benefit plan or profit sharing plan: If you defer your pay, the judge will still use it for the purposes of child support calculations.
✔ Military allowances/Veteran's benefits: This only applies for certain benefits being received by the military parent.
✔ Compensation for lost wages: If you have sued and are receiving a settlement for lost wages, or other lost wage compensation, you should expect this will factor into child support.
✔ Undistributed business income: If you own or have an interest in a business, the undistributed business income will be considered for child support
✔ Child care subsidy payments: If you are a child care provider, any child care subsidy payments you receive will be considered for child support
✔ Alimony: That's right! If you receive alimony, you should anticipate that your alimony will be used as income for the purposes of calculating child support.
✔ The catchall: All other income regardless of whether or not it is taxable will be considered for the purposes of child support.
If you've read this far, you might be thinking "WOW! That's everything...is there anything that is NOT considered income for child support purposes?"
The answer? YES!
The legislature tells us that the following WILL NOT be considered as income for calculating child support:
✔ Child support received: If you receive child support, this will not be considered income for the child support calculations
✔ Foster care payments: If you have foster children in your home and receive a subsidy for foster care, this will not be used in child support
✔ Kingap: Kingap is payments for foster children under a guardianship. This is not considered "income"
✔ SNAP: These benefits will not be used to calculate child support
✔ Cash county benefits: If you receive any type of cash benefit paid by the county (and we presume any other government entity like the City or State), this will not be considered for child support
✔ Other benefits not considered income: SSI payments, State supplemental payments, social services, other public assistance unless the legislature has specifically said it will count as income, pain and suffering awarded in a law suit, general damages and special damages awarded in a lawsuit not intended to replace income
How do the child support calculations work and what happens when parents agree to a child support amount? Keep reading!
How is child support calculated under the new child support laws?
Great question. Unfortunately, the answer is now even more complicated.
The new child support laws do away with straight percentages and statutory caps based on income.
Now child support is calculated using a tiered percentage system.
To make it even more complicated, the new statutes offer relief for low income earners, parents who are unemployed, parents who are incarcerated and parents who agree on a child support number.
But...we're getting ahead of ourselves. . .
Let's take a look at the new figures for child support and work through some examples.
If you are a standard, moderate or high income earner, child support will be based on the following table:
5 Children or more
For the first $6,000 of income
2% for each additional child
For up to the next $4,000 of income
1% for each additional child
For any amount over the first $10,000 of income
.5% for each additional child
Looks confusing right? Well it is so here's some examples of how child support will work under the new formula:
Example #1: Parent 1 earns $5,000 a month income and Parent 2 earns $3,000 a month in income. They have 1 child and have joint custody.
Parent 1's child support obligation is 16% of $5,000 or $800 a month. Parent 2's child support obligation is 16% of $3,000 or $480 a month. Because Parent 1 is the higher wage earner, Parent 1 will pay Parent 2 the difference or $800 minus $480. Parent 1's child support to be paid to Parent 2 is $320.
Example #2: Let's assume the same income as Example #1 but Parent 1 has primary custody. We will then take Parent 1's income completely out of the equation and will only look at Parent 2's income.
Using the same numbers as Example #1: Parent 2 earns $3,000 a month in income. Parent 2 will pay Parent 1 16% of $3,000 for child support. Therefore, Parent 2 owes Parent 1 $480 a month for support.
These two examples are pretty similar to how child support worked under the old formulas. But when we start to look at higher income earning parents, the calculations start to get more complicated. Here's a couple of examples:
Example #3: Parent 1 earns $13,000 a month in income and Parent 2 earns $7,500 a month. They have joint custody of 3 children.
Parent 1's child support will be 26% of the first $6,000 for $1560 a month; 13% of the next $4,000 for $520; and 6% of the next $3,000 for $180. This means Parent 1's child support obligation is $1560 + $520 + $180 for a total obligation of $2,260 a month. (Remember there is no more statutory maximum).
Parent 2's child support will be 26% of the first $6,000 for $1560 a month; and 13% of the next $1,500 for $195 per month. Parent 2's child support obligation is $1560 + $195 for a total child support obligation of $1755 per month.
Because Parent 1 earns more than Parent 2 and they have joint custody, Parent 1 will pay Parent 2 the difference between $2260 and $1755. So Parent 1's child support obligation to Parent 2 is $505 per month.
Example #4: Parent 1 earns $15,000 a month and Parent 2 earns $3,000 a month and they have 1 child. Parent 2 has primary custody.
Because Parent 2 has primary custody, we do not consider Parent 2's income and will only look at child support owed by Parent 1. Parent 1 owes $16% from the first $6,000 for a support obligation of $960 a month; 8% from the next $4,000 for a support obligation of $320 a month; and 4% of the next $5,000 for a support obligation of $200 a month. Adding it together Parent 1 owes Parent 2 $1,480 per month in child support.
We get it...it's a lot of math.
And it starts to get more complicated when custody isn't the same for all children between two parents. For example, when a parent has primary custody of one child but the parents share custody of 2 other children, the formulas get even more complicated.
If you've read this far, you are probably thinking "this is crazy! Can't my ex and I just agree on a number?"
Keep reading for more answers!
Agreements For Child Support
Under the new child support statutes parents are allowed to just agree to an amount for child support. This is a big change from the old laws because child support lawyers used to have to jump through hoops to convince a judge to accept an agreement between parents for child support.
Again the answer is YES! As parents you and your ex can agree to a child support amount.
But . . . you must follow the rules to get your agreement accepted by your family court judge:
First, your agreement must be in writing. The judge isn't just going to take your word for it that you and your ex agreed that neither would pay child support. The best practice is to get a Stipulation and Order filed with the Court the explains your agreement.
Second, even if you and your ex reach an agreement on the child support amount, your written agreement must explain what child support should be if you used the new calculations.
Third, your written child support agreement must explain what each parent's gross monthly income is. Use the guidelines above to establish income for each parent; however, under the new laws, parents can agree as to what their incomes are for the purposes of an agreement on child support.
Fourth, you must include a statement that your child IS NOT receiving any public assistance.
Fifth, you must include a statement that your child's basic needs are met or exceeded by the child support amount.
Sixth, you must include a statement that if either parent changes their mind or no longer agrees with the child support amount, you both understand that the new amount will be calculated by the judge using the child support formulas.
BEWARE: Your family court judge can deny any agreement made if the judge believes the agreement is coerced OR does not meet the child’s basic needs.
What Is The Child Support Calculation When Only 1 Parent Works?
This question comes up a bunch in child support cases. The answer depends on WHY your ex isn't working.
If a parent is incarcerated or in a mental institution (yes this happens from time to time), the new law says that this parent's income is $0 if the parent is institutionalized or imprisoned for more than 180 days.
In plain language, if a parent goes to prison for 1 year, they will not have to pay child support. Likewise, if a parent is in a mental institution for 5 years, they will not have to pay support.
However, if you can show the judge that the institutionalized parent or imprisoned parent can actually pay child support regardless of their circumstances, then the child can still make a child support award against them.
For example, let's say that your ex has $100,000 in a bank account but is going to prison for 9 months. Under the new statute, the judge could make a finding that even though your ex is incarcerated for over 180 days, they still have the means to pay child support and therefore, child support should be ordered.
The judge will consider incarceration or institutionalization a substantial change in circumstance and can modify child support. What this means is that if your ex was ordered to pay $500 a month in child support but got sentenced to 5 years in prison, your ex can take you back to Court and argue that child support should be set at $0 because your ex is going to be incarcerated for over 180 days.
If the incarcerated or institutionalized parent gets out, child support will begin on the first day of the next month following their release.
So now your wondering "that's great, but my ex isn't incarcerated or institutionalized. They just don't want to work. Cant the judge still order them to pay child support?"
Again the answer here is YES! If the judge decides there is no reason for a parent to be unemployed or if the judge finds a parent is purposefully underemployed, the judge can decide what the parent’s income should be for the purpose of calculating child support.
But the judge can't just make up any old number. Instead, the new laws require your family court judge to look at the following factors to decide on a number for the person who is underemployed or unemployed:
- Employment and earnings history
- Job skills
- Criminal history and other employment barriers
- Record of seeking work
- The job market
- The availability of employers willing to hire the parent
- The prevailing earnings level in the local community
- Any other relevant information
Am I Required To Contribute More For My Child Or Is Everything Included In My Child Support?
With the old laws, it used to be simple. I'd have a parent call me and say that they needed more money for child support because of day-care costs or extra-curricular expenses. Unfortunately, we'd have to break the news to them that the child support statutes only considered child support and unless their ex agreed or the Court ordered otherwise, child support was intended to cover all of the expenses for their child.
Well . . . that was then and this is now!
Under the new statutes day-care costs/child care expenses must be split so long as they are reasonable. Sadly, the legislature didn't tell us what they meant by "reasonable" but we are pretty sure we can guess.
For example, if both parents work and use Safe Key for their children after school, there is a good chance the judge is going to order that the parents share this cost.
As another example, if both parents are low income earners and one parent wants to be reimbursed for paying their mom $1,000 a week to watch the children, chances are the judge is going to say this is unreasonable and not make a parent share in this cost.
KEY TAKEAWAY: As long as the child care cost is reasonable, you can expect the judge to split this cost between the parents.
In addition to day-care expenses, the new laws require that parents split the cost of the child's medical needs. This includes ALL medical, dental and vision premium payments and out of pocket expenses.
There are a couple of exceptions to the medical requirements:
First, Medicaid and CHIP are presumed to meet the medical needs of a child. So if your child is on Medicaid, you will not have to purchase additional insurance for your child under the new laws.
Second, you are not obligated to pay for a national plan of insurance for your child. If you live in Nevada and your ex lives in California and your children live in Nevada, you do not have to buy a plan that covers your children in California.
Third, the cost of insurance cannot exceed 5% of a parent's gross monthly income. For example, if you make $1,000 a month but the health insurance would cost $500 a month, you are not obligated to purchase this plan of insurance.
Finally, the judge can order more or less child support under certain circumstances and depending on your child's needs.
In creating the new laws and calculations, your family court judge will assume that your child support, as calculated under the new formulas, meets your child’s needs.
You can argue to the judge that paying the calculated amount exceeds the child’s needs if you think you are paying too much.
Or, if you are receiving too little in child support, you can argue to the judge that you don’t think it is enough money.
If your judge changes child support, up or down, from the calculation, the judge must explain WHY changes were made.
The judge will consider the following factors to change child support up or down:
✔ Special education needs of the child
✔ Legal responsibility for support of others
✔ Value of services contributed by either party
✔ Public assistance paid to support the child
✔ Cost of transportation to and from visitation
✔ Relative income of both households
✔ Necessary expenses for the benefit of the child
✔ The parent’s ability to pay
When Does Child Support End?
You would think this question wouldn't be that complicated but under the new child support laws, it's not an easy answer.
To make it the least complicated, we break child support into three categories:
Category 1: You have child support that only pertains to 1 child
Category 2: You have child support that pertains to more than 1 child and you have allocated an amount for each child
Category 3: You have child support that pertains to more than 1 child and you HAVE NOT allocated an amount for each child.
Let's break down when child support ends by each category:
Category #1: You have a child support amount and only 1 child
This one should be pretty easy. Let's say you and your ex agreed that you would receive child support in the amount of $500 per month and you only have 1 child together.
In this case, if your child has already graduated from high school before they turn 18, child support ends when your child turns 18.
If your child is still in high school at the time they turn 18, child support ends when your child turns 19 OR when your child graduates from high school whichever occurs first.
For example, let's say you have a senior in high school who turns 18 on October 1, 2019 but doesn't graduate until May 20, 2020. Child support will continue until your child's graduation date of May 20, 2020.
As another example, let's say your child graduates from high school on May 20, 2020 but turns 18 on July 1, 2020. Child support continues until your child turns 18, July 1, 2020.
Last example, let's say your child turns 19 on April 30, 2020 but graduates from high school on May 20, 2020. Child support ends when your child turns 19 on April 30, 2020.
Category #1 is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. Category #2 is a little more complicated.
Category #2: You and your ex have a child support order and have agreed how much support will be paid for each child
Like we said this one is a little more complicated. Let's say you and your ex have 2 children and your ex pays $1,000 per month in total support and you have agreed your ex's child support is $500 per month per child. You have a support award but you've allocated a specific amount of child support per child.
In this scenario, the child support obligation for a particular child ends on the first day of the month following the date on which the child turns 18, unless the child is still in high school at the time the child turns 18. If the child is still in high school at 18 years old, then child support ends on the first day of the month following the date on which the child graduates OR turns 19 whichever occurs first.
For example, you have a son that is still in high school and turns 18 on October 1, 2019 and a daughter that turns 18 on July 1, 2022. Your son graduates June 1, 2020 and your daughter graduates June 1, 2022.
In this scenario, child support for your son will end, July 1, 2020. Why? Your son turns 18 in October but is still in high school so child support continues until the first day of the month following his graduation date of June 1, 2020. This means child support stops as of July 1, 2020. Following this, you will only have to pay $500 per month until child support for your daughter ends.
Child support for your daughter in this scenario will end August 1, 2022. Why? Your daughter graduates from high school June 1, 2022 but is still 17. She turns 18 on July 1, 2022. Child support stops the first day of the next month after she turns 18 or August 1, 2022.
Category #3: You and your ex have a child support order, more than 1 child but you have not decided how much support is being paid for each child
This one is more complicated than Category #1 and requires more work than Category #2.
Child support ends in the same way as it does like Category #2: when the child turns 18 or if still in high school then when the child turns 19 or graduates whichever comes first.
However, in order to change child support where you haven't allocated a specific amount per child, you will either need to reach an agreement with your ex for a new amount OR you have to file a motion with the Court to change your child support.
If you file a motion, you need to consider two things:
First, child support will be calculated based upon the laws at the time your motion is filed.
So let's say you have a child support order for 3 children under the old laws (25% of your gross monthly income) but 1 child will emancipate in May 2020. If you and your ex don't agree to a new amount of child support, you will need to file a motion and your new child support obligation will be based on the new laws of tiered support beginning at 18% of your gross monthly income with no cap.
Second, if you file a motion to change child support, the child support change will only go back to when you filed your motion, NOT to when your child emancipated.
Using our example above, you have 3 children with a child support order under the old laws. 1 child emancipates in June 2020, but you wait until December 2020 to file a motion to change your child support. The new child support will be effective from the time your motion was filed in December 2020 not from when your child emancipated in June 2020.
Yeah like we said . . . it's complicated. If you think you need the help of an attorney, keep reading.
Do I Need A Child Support Lawyer & If So, How Do I Find One?
By now you should know that our firm encourages people to reach agreements on their own, and we don't encourage people to spend their hard earned money hiring lawyers for the sake of it.
But the real truth?
These new child support laws are complicated and difficult to understand.
We know the committee worked really hard to make the new laws fair, but the math and the nuances are tricky.
If you are opening a new child support case, pursuing a child custody case, or trying to modify an existing custody or child support case, we strongly encourage you to hire a child support lawyer.
Not sure where to find a child support attorney?
Well, if you are reading this article and you haven't figured it out by now, we are child support lawyers and we can definitely help with your case. You can inquire about our services by calling our office at (702) 433-2889 or filing out our on-line form to get more information.
Not sure you want to hire us?
You can find research about other child support lawyers by doing a simple search on the internet for child support lawyers in your area. Just make sure when you talk to them that they are familiar with the new laws and understand how the child support calculations work.
You can also contact the State Bar of Nevada's lawyer referral service to get the contact information for child support lawyers. Finally, you can ask other lawyers if they know anyone familiar with the child support laws in Nevada.
Regardless of who you use for your child support case, we hope you found this information helpful. If so, we'd love to hear your feedback and input. Please send us your comments or share this article on social media.