Who Must Pay Child Support in Nevada?
Nevada law requires parents to provide financial, health, and educational support for their children until they reach 18 (or 19 years if they are still in high school).
A parent with “primary physical custody” of a child has a right to child support payments. A parent has primary physical custody if the child lives with that parent at least 61% of the time. The other parent is known as a “non-custodial” parent and is the one who must usually pay child support.
If each parent has the child at least 40% of the time, the parents have “joint custody,” which triggers other ways of calculating child support.
How is Child Support Determined in Nevada?
The two custodial arrangements in Nevada are “joint physical custody” and “primary physical custody.”
When a custody order gives a parent primary physical custody (usually more than 60% of the parenting time), the non-custodial parent is the only party who pays support. The reasoning is that the primary custodial parent is already devoting most of their time and resources to support the children. Payments are based on the non-custodial parent’s monthly gross income.
When a custody order gives the parents joint physical custody, the child support calculations are similar, but it includes a comparison of both parents’ incomes. The parent who makes more pays the difference in their obligations to the parent who earns less.
Gross monthly income is a person’s total income in any given month, with some exceptions.
After the parent’s gross income is determined, the court looks at how many children are involved in the case. Only children from the relationship are used in calculating the parent’s obligation at this point, but children from another relationship are considered before a final amount is determined.
Once each parent’s gross monthly income, the number of children, and the custody arrangement, are determined, the court can calculate the base child support award.
There are three methods of determining the amount:
- By looking it up on a table for low-income earners (those earning below $1,595 per month)
- By reaching a specific agreement between the parties that the court must review
- By plugging the numbers into the calculation
Child support for those with gross monthly income above $1,595 is calculated in three tiers:
- Tier 1: The first $6,000 of income
- Tier 2: The next $4,000 of income
- Tier 3: Everything earned above the first $10,000
The calculations based on the number of children are as follows:
1. For one child, the sum of:
(a) For the first $6,000 of an obligor’s monthly gross income, 16 percent of such income;
(b) For any portion of an obligor’s monthly gross income that is greater than $6,000 and equal to or less than $10,000, 8 percent of such a portion; and
(c) For any portion of an obligor’s monthly gross income greater than $10,000, 4 percent of such a portion.
2. For two children, the sum of:
(a) For the first $6,000 of an obligor’s monthly gross income, 22 percent of such income;
(b) For any portion of an obligor’s monthly gross income that is greater than $6,000 and equal to or less than $10,000, 11 percent of such a portion; and
(c) For any portion of an obligor’s monthly gross income that is greater than $10,000, 6 percent of such a portion.
3. For three children, the sum of:
(a) For the first $6,000 of an obligor’s monthly gross income, 26 percent of such income;
(b) For any portion of an obligor’s monthly gross income that is greater than $6,000 and equal to or less than $10,000, 13 percent of such a portion; and
(c) For any portion of an obligor’s monthly gross income that is greater than $10,000, 6 percent of such a portion.
4. For four children, the sum of:
(a) For the first $6,000 of an obligor’s monthly gross income, 28 percent of such income;
(b) For any portion of an obligor’s monthly gross income that is greater than $6,000 and equal to or less than $10,000, 14 percent of such a portion; and
(c) For any portion of an obligor’s monthly gross income that is greater than $10,000, 7 percent of such a portion.
5. For each additional child, the sum of:
(a) For the first $6,000 of an obligor’s monthly gross income, an additional 2 percent of such income;
(b) For any portion of an obligor’s monthly gross income that is greater than $6,000 and equal to or less than $10,000, an additional 1 percent of such a portion; and
(c) For any portion of an obligor’s monthly gross income that is greater than $10,000, an additional 0.5 percent of such a portion.
Courts can deviate from these amounts if it is in the child’s best interests, as noted below.
Read More: Counseling Children Through Divorce
Which Agency Handles Child Support in Nevada?
The Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, Child Support Enforcement Program (CSEP) is responsible for child support issues in Nevada. The agency provides a variety of services to meet this mission, including:
- Locating noncustodial parents’ obligors and their assets
- Establishing parentage
- Establishing financial and medical support obligations
- Enforcement of financial and medical support obligations
- Collection and distribution of child support payments
- Review and modification of support orders
You can contact the program by phone:
Toll-Free at (800) 992-0900
In Northern Nevada at (775) 684-7200
In Southern Nevada at (702) 486-1646
You can also reach out to field offices located throughout the state:
The Program also provides several forms, including but not limited to:
- Application for Child Support Services
- Declaration of Custodian of Minor Child to Change Child Support Payee
- Instructions for Declaration of Custodian of Minor Child to Change Child Support Payee
How Do I Ask for Child Support?
You can apply through your local, state, or tribal child support office. Usually, applying to your local child support agency is the most effective, but you have the right to apply to another tribunal if that will result in more efficient service.
To start the application process, download, print, and complete the Application for Child Support Services and submit it as indicated above.
If you have questions, you can also send an email to email@example.com or call (800) 992-0900.
Read More: How to File For a Divorce in Nevada
Factors that May Impact Child Support in Nevada
Courts can accommodate special conditions that justify a deviation from the calculated support. These deviations are expected to be the exception, not the rule, and give the court needed flexibility to make correct decisions. Deviation factors include:
- Any special educational needs of the child
- The legal responsibility of the parties for the support of others
- The value of services contributed by either party
- Any public assistance paid to support the child
- The cost of transportation of the child to and from visitation
- The relative income of both households so long as the adjustment does not exceed the total obligation of the other party
- Any other necessary expenses for the benefit of the child
- The obligor’s ability to pay
The court can also impute income to the obligor when a parent is underemployed or unemployed without good cause. This means the court can make certain assumptions and apply those to determine an income amount the obligor should earn.
If the court imputes income, the court must take into consideration the following circumstances related to the obligor:
- Employment and earnings history
- Job skills
- Educational attainment
- Criminal record and other employment barriers; and
- Record of seeking work
- The local job market
- The availability of employers willing to hire the obligor
- The prevailing earnings level in the local community
- Any other relevant background factors in the case.
Is there a limit to the amount of money that can be taken from a paycheck for child support?
Yes, the amount that can be withheld from an employee’s wages is limited by the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (FCCPA) to 50% of disposable income if an obligated parent has a second family and 60% if there is no second family. These limits increase by 5 percent (to 55% and 65%) if payments are in arrears for 12 weeks or more.
What happens if a parent can’t find their child and the custodial parent?
CSEP helps locate children in parental kidnapping cases. Federal law allows the use of the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) in parental kidnapping or child custody cases, including when a custodial parent has hidden the child in violation of a visitation order. Requests for information from the FPLS in custody and parental kidnapping cases must come from a state child support agency.
Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Child Support
Is Health Insurance Considered a Part of Child Support?
Every child support order issued or modified in Nevada includes a provision specifying that medical support must be provided for the child.
Medical support is the payment of a premium for accessible medical, vision, or dental coverage under a plan of insurance, including, without limitation, a public plan such as Medicaid or a reduced-fee plan such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
The cost must be “reasonable” and accessible with coverage not limited to a geographical area unless the child resides within that geographical area.
The payment of a premium for coverage under a plan of insurance is reasonable if the cost is not more than 5% of the party responsible for providing medical support; or adding a dependent child to any existing coverage for health care or the difference between individual and family coverage, whichever is less, is not more than 5% of the monthly gross income of the party.
The court has the final say in determining if a plan cost is reasonable.
Parents may also pay additional amounts to cover a portion of ongoing medical bills or as reimbursement for uninsured medical costs. This could be due to major illnesses, surgeries, or ongoing treatments for things such as braces.
Read More: Health Insurance During and After Divorce
Establishing Paternity in Nevada
Establishing paternity means determining who the father is of a child. It is assumed that a man is a child’s father when the parents are married. However, that is not the case when the mother is not married. Until paternity is established, no child support order can be issued.
In Nevada, paternity may be established in a legal action brought by a natural person or the state. The statute of limitations on a Nevada paternity lawsuit runs until three years after the child turns 18.
A party can request a paternity determination as part of an action for divorce, annulment, or child support or request that a Nevada District Attorney file a lawsuit to determine a child’s paternity. The parties do not need to live in Nevada. A court has jurisdiction to determine paternity if the child was conceived in the state.
Unmarried parents can acknowledge the father’s paternity of the newborn at the hospital by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. Sixty days after it is signed, an acknowledgment is “deemed to have the same effect as a judgment or order of a court.”
After paternity is established, the same rules govern child custody, visitation, and support as would apply between parents who had been married and divorced.
If a man is not sure he is the father, the child support agency can arrange for genetic testing. Testing is conducted on cells gathered by swabbing the inside of the cheek of the man, mother, and child.
These tests are simple to take and highly accurate. Even if the parents plan to marry after their baby is born, establishing paternity helps to protect the relationship between the child and the father. These tests can also exclude a man who is not the biological father and show the likelihood of paternity if he is not excluded.
Genetic testing only creates a presumption of paternity. A party can rebut the presumption by clear and convincing evidence that the parties intended someone else to be the legal father.
Enforcing Nevada Child Support Orders
Paying child support is a legal obligation. When a parent refuses to make a court-ordered payment, various enforcement options are available to remedy this situation.
Child Support Enforcement is a department within the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services that enforces state and federal child support laws.
When a parent has issues regarding child support in Nevada, they can contact their local District Attorney’s office, which contracts with the state’s Child Support Enforcement Program to resolve the issue.
The DA can implement the following:
- Income withholding, including withholding of unemployment and worker’s compensation benefits and military and government checks
- Suspend professional, occupational, and recreational licenses, certificates, and permits
- Impose a lien against a parent’s real property (e.g., a house).
- Petition the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Public Safety to suspend a driver’s license
- Intercept federal tax refunds
- Report arrearages to consumer credit bureaus
- Garnish a parent’s bank accounts
- File a motion to hold the parent in contempt, which can result in fines and jail time
- Enforce out-of-state child support judgments when a parent comes under Nevada’s jurisdiction
Modifying a Nevada Child Support Order
After a support award is established, that order remains in place until the court changes it.
Either parent can request a review if a triggering event occurs, such as a significant change in financial circumstances of the parents or one of the children emancipates and no longer requires support.
Under Nevada law, child support awards can be reviewed every three years or at any time when there is a change in gross monthly income of more than 20%.
Courts can also use the same factors that determined an original order, which might include changes in:
- the cost of health insurance
- the cost of childcare
- the child’s special educational needs
- the child’s age
- either parent’s legal responsibility to support others
- the value of services contributed by either parent
- any public assistance paid to support the child
- any expenses reasonably related to the mother’s pregnancy
- travel-related expenses for visitation
- the amount of time the child spends with each parent
- any other necessary expenses for the child’s benefit
- the relative income of both parents
Child Support and Taxes
Child support payments are not deductible by the payer or taxable to the recipient. Don’t include child support payments received when you calculate your gross income.
However, you may be able to claim the child as a dependent. Generally, the custodial parent is treated as one who provides more than half of the child’s support. In some cases, the noncustodial parent may be treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support.
Many agreements include a provision that each parent declares half the children as dependents when there is an even number of children. The parents can alternate years claiming a child for an odd number of children. In this situation, parents may need to submit Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a similar statement.
When Does Child Support End in Nevada?
Child support ends when the child reaches 18 years of age or if the child is still in high school when they graduate or reaches 19 years of age, whichever comes first.
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 children remaining under the order.
Support also ends when a child is legally emancipated. This occurs when a child who is at least 16 has obtained a court decree that frees the parents from their rights and duties to the child and grants the child authority to make their own legal decisions and enter into contracts.
A parent may be responsible for supporting a child who has been mentally or physically disabled since before the age of majority, and this support may continue past age 19 until the child is no longer disabled or is self-supporting.
In these cases, a court order is necessary to establish that a child is no longer handicapped within the meaning of the law.
Also, terminating a child support obligation does not absolve a parent of unpaid child support. Outstanding arrearages are still owed even after the child is no longer a minor.