When parents establish child support orders for the first time, they want to know how much. If you’re receiving child support, you want to know if it’s going to be enough to make ends meet and provide for your children. If you’re paying child support, you want assurances that you’ll be able to make the payments and pay your own expenses.
Working with a family law attorney on your child support order can ensure your concerns are addressed in a way that makes sense for you. Here’s what you should know about how the amount of child support is determined in Nevada.
Both Parents Must Support the Children
Both parents have a legal obligation to support their children. Even if a parent receives support, the law presumes that they contribute directly to their children’s support. While the court can take the relative incomes of both parents into account, the court can’t order one parent to provide sole financial responsibility for the children.
Begin by Looking at Parenting Time
To determine child support in Nevada, you start by looking at the court ordered parenting time in the case. If the parents have equal parenting time or near equal parenting time, you look at the incomes of both parents.
In that case, you perform a child support calculation for both parents. The higher-earning parent pays the difference to the lower-earning parent. When one parent has all or most of the parenting time, look at only the other parent’s income to set a child support amount.
Consider the Gross Income of One or Both Parents
When you look at a parent’s income to determine child support, review the parent’s gross income. Other states allow for deductions for taxes, mandatory union dues, and even mandatory pension contributions, but Nevada looks only at gross income. Consider all sources of income including salary, wages, bonuses, commissions, and even holiday pay. If a parent is unemployed, look at unemployment pay, severance pay, and workers compensation.
You can consider pay from a second job or overtime. Even things like royalties and trusts can count as income. If a parent receives regular gifts from friends or relatives, that can also count as income. Look at every possible source to determine all of the resources that a parent might have available to pay support.
Determine the Correct Child Support Percentage
Once you’ve determined the paying parent’s income, determine the percentage of income that they pay in support. Each paying parent pays a flat percentage of their income based on the number of children in the order. The amounts are as follows:
- One child: 18 percent
- Two children: 25 percent
- Three children: 29 percent
- Four children: 31 percent
- Each additional child: 2 percent more per child
For example, if a paying parent has a gross income of $4,000 per month and three children, they pay $1160 per month. However, if the parent has equal parenting time, and the other parent’s child support obligation is $500 per month, the parent pays $1160 minus $500 or $660 per month. The minimum child support amount is $100 per month, per child. There are also presumptive maximums. The highest presumptive maximum support award is $750 per month, per child for a parent with an income of $12,501 per month or more.
What If a Parent Is Self-Employed?
If a parent is self-employed, consider all of their income before taxes or other deductions like 401k contributions. In cases of self-employment, a child support calculation can be complicated for multiple reasons. On the one hand, a parent might intentionally try to divert income by hiding it in the business. They might try to claim business expenses that drastically lower their personal expenses and income.
On the other hand, a parent who is self-employed likely has legitimate expenses. They may need to pay employees, pay contractors, and cover expenses of doing business. If a parent is in a partnership, they must account for their partner’s share of the income. Careful accounting may be necessary in a case of self-employment to make sure that the child support order is accurate in the spirit of Nevada’s child support laws.
What If There Are Unique Circumstances?
There are some circumstances where the presumptive child support award might be too much or too little. If that’s the case, it’s up to the judge to learn about the circumstances of the case and make a decision about what’s best for the children. The court can consider deviating from the presumptive child support amount in any of the following circumstances:
- Unique medical needs for the child or a parent: If a significant part of a parent’s income goes to medical bills, the court can make adjustments to prevent the impoverishment of either parent
- Educational needs: When a child needs special schooling, tutors or other care, the court can order both parents to contribute a fair amount
- Support for others: If a parent supports others who can’t provide for themselves, the court can account for the parent’s contributions to others
- Public assistance: If a recipient parent is on public assistance, the court can order an extra amount to lift the recipient and the children off of public support
- Travel: When one or both parents spend a great deal to travel to exercise parenting time, they have less money available for support
- Time the child spends with each parent: In cases where a parent provides significant amounts of day-time care for a child, the court can adjust support to account for direct support
How Can I Make Sure That the Child Support Amount Is Correct?
It’s up to you to present the court with the evidence they need to establish the proper amount of child support in your case. Your child support case is a legal matter, and it’s important to treat it that way. You may need to present evidence of your income.
Another way to build your case is to demand records and documents from the other parent. Unfortunately, not all parents are forthcoming when it comes to presenting honest information to the court. It’s up to you to build your case with substantial evidence to show the judge the entire picture.
If child support is already established in your case, you can ask the court to modify the support amount based on either a significant change in income or because more than three years have passed since the court’s last review.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
If there are mistakes in your child support order, it can devastate you financially. An experienced lawyer can help you make sure that your child support order is accurate the first time. They can also provide insight into how the court views child support orders, and help if you need to modify your child support.