How child support is determined and how much the client will have to pay or may receive are some of the most common questions that we get from clients when we first meet with them. While the determination of a child support obligation can be complicated, the basic principles are relatively simple.
How is child support calculated?
The obligation of child support is codified in Nevada Revised Statute 125B and further governed by Nevada caselaw in Wright v. Osburn. NRS 125B.070 sets forth the method of calculation of child support, and essentially states that child support is calculated by taking one’s gross monthly income and multiplying it by a set percentage. 18% for one child, 25% for two children, 29% for three children, 31% for four children, and an additional 2% for each additional child. However, the amount of child support is capped under NRS 125B.070(2), based upon the parent’s gross monthly income range. While the statute sets forth the presumptive maximums, these numbers change and are published each year.
The child support obligation calculated under NRS 125B.070 can be further deviated up or down based upon several factors contained in NRS 125B.080. For example, a party may receive a downward deviation if they have other children that they support, pay for health insurance for the child at issue, or cost of travel for the parent to visit the child if the custodial parent moves with the child outside of the jurisdiction, to name a few.
If a party has no job or income, they have a minimum obligation of $100.00 per month per child.
What if the parents have joint physical custody?
In situations where the parents enjoy joint physical custody, the method of calculation is explained by Nevada caselaw. In Wright v. Osburn, the Nevada Supreme Court stated that where the parties have joint physical custody, you calculate the appropriate percentage of gross income for each parent; subtract the difference between the two and require the parent with the higher income to pay the parent with the lower income that difference. This of course, can still be adjusted where the Court finds that special circumstances exist. Under this formula, a parent with joint physical custody may still be obligated to pay the other parent child support.
What if parents have mixed custody of the children?
Child Support calculations in Las Vegas are pretty straight forward when there is only one child, or the parents share joint physical custody of multiple children. What happens when parents have joint physical custody of one child but one parent has primary physical custody of the other child? The answer, up until recently, depended on how the judge you were in front of did the calculation. You could end up with widely different numbers from courtroom to courtroom. However, the Nevada Supreme Court has now given us a formula for the calculation in Miller v. Miller, 134 Nev. Advance Opinion 16.
The Miller Calculation
In Miller, the parents had joint physical custody of one child, and the mother had primary physical custody of their other child. The Court determined that the way to calculate the child support was to first calculate their respective child support obligations under NRS 125B.070. Since they had two children, it was 25% of each parent’s gross monthly income. Next, the court divided their child support obligation by two (because there were two children) to find out the obligation for each child. The Court then offset that amount for the child that they shared joint physical custody of pursuant to Wright v. Osburn. Finally, the court added the offset amount to the amount that was calculated for each child to determine the total amount of child support owed. (Since the mother had primary custody of the second child, that number was not offset.) Confused? It is simple once you do the calculations. For example:
Mom and dad have two children together. They share joint custody of one child, but mom has primary custody of the other child. Dad’s 25% obligation is $1,000.00, and mom’s obligation is $900.00. Under Miller, you would divide their numbers by two to determine the amount owed for each child. Dad’s obligation is $500 per child, Mom’s obligation is $450 per child. Dad’s amount would be offset for the child that they share joint physical custody of, making his child support for that child $50 per month. Since mom has primary custody of the second child, dad’s amount is not offset and he owes $500 per month for the second child. Adding it all up, Dad has a child support obligation of $550 per month before any deviations that the Court may allow.
While we still need to make sure to carry around a calculator, there should be a lot less variability in child support calculations where there are non-uniform distributions of physical custody.
Can Child Support be changed?
Absolutely. Child support can be modified every three years, or with a substantial change in circumstances. A substantial change in circumstances could be a change in custody designations, or by statute, a 20% change in income, among other reasons.
The outcome of a child custody dispute in a Las Vegas Family Court is a complicated subject. There are many factors and arguments that might be made in your case. If you would like to set up a consultation with an experienced Las Vegas Family Lawyer to determine your next step, call Doyle Law Group at 702.706.3323, or fill out the contact sheet on this page and we will get back to you as soon as possible.