It’s not a secret that oftentimes the outcomes are unfavorable to Dads. Here are three tips to help you have a more favorable outcome. It’s important to know your rights and understand how the law works in child support cases so you can protect yourself. Please note that these tips are somewhat specific to the state of Nevada so make sure you check with your state laws if you live elsewhere. However, all three tips are beneficial for all Dad’s facing child support. So let’s dive right into the 3 steps.
Know How Child Support is Calculated
The first step is to know how child support is calculated. This can often lead to a lot of confusion and mistakes. Many times people just assume that because they share custody of their children equally that they won’t have to pay any child support at all. Unfortunately that is not the case! If you are the higher earner you most likely will need to pay some child support. The other thing you need to know is that in February of 2020, child support regulations were updated by the court. And if you just Google child support laws in Nevada, you might get the old NRS statute that has caps and the calculation is much different than it is now. Under the new regulation(which is 425 NAC if you are interested in looking it up), the court got rid of caps. They also gave parents a lot more leeway to negotiate what child support amounts would be with the other parent. The way it’s currently calculated is almost like your taxes, it’s a tiered amount. For example, if you make over $6,000, the first $6,000 of your income is calculated at a certain amount. And then every couple of thousand dollars over that, it changes the percentage amount. So number one, just be aware of how child support is calculated! This can help you make a plan and budget if you do end up paying child support.
The second step is to pay some child support each month, even if it is a small amount. This may sound strange if you aren’t currently required to pay child support, but hear me out. A lot of times in custody support cases, I find that Dad is often the higher earner. Sometimes that is because the mother is a stay at home or she may work part time. Whatever the reason, it is not unusual for the Dad to be bringing in a higher income. And, if you look at the child support regulations, you’ll know that even with joint physical custody, the court looks at both incomes. When they do the calculation, they subtract the lower income from the higher one, and the difference is what you pay. So what happens a lot of times is there may not be a custody order in place, or you don’t end up in child support court for several months or even years. Then something may happen and you have to go to child support court and there is a dispute as to what you have paid. If you haven’t been paying any child support at all, it often happens that suddenly you are hit with a huge arrears balance on top of having a monthly child support obligation. For example, let’s say the judge rules that you need to pay $400 a month in child support but prior to going to court you haven’t paid any child support in the two years you have been separated from the child’s mother. That is potentially 24 months of unpaid child support, which would be a balance of $9600 on top of having to pay another $400 each month going forward. Sometimes the court will also put interest and penalties on top of that, and before you know it, you are swimming in debt. However, if you are paying something each month in child support prior to going to court, and you can show it, that may reduce your balance and save you money.
Do Not Pay Child Support in Cash. Document Everything!
The last step is to document everything and never pay your child support in cash. Cash is almost impossible to track. The good news is that with all the modern technology you have almost endless options for electronically transferring money that also leaves an electronic or paper trail. Some good options to use are Venmo, PayPal and Zelle. You can transfer the money immediately and will receive a receipt via email. Checks are also a good option to use. Again, always make sure to keep track of your payments and create a folder where you keep all your receipts or emails of when you made child support payments. It’s also a good idea to keep all your receipts whenever you are buying something for your children and keeping them in one place if you ever need them for court. If you’re paying electronically you can also add a memo line. So for example, if you send a payment you can add “Child Support for July 2020” in the memo line. Doing this will help eliminate the whole issue of arrears significantly. Even if you’re not able to pay the right amount, this will show that you are at least paying something and making an effort to do so. Paying child support and making sure that your children are well taken care of is something that needs to be done, but you need to be able to do so without completely financially ruining your life.
So there you have it, the top 3 steps to avoid being ruined in child support court. Child support can be tricky, but if you educate yourself and are aware of the most important laws you can save yourself a lot of headache and money. I hope this was helpful and that you use these 3 steps to help you if you are dealing with child support issues.