Person performing calculationsThis is the second post in my “Understanding Child Support Laws in Las Vegas series.” My last article provided an overview of topics that I will be discussing over the course of this series. In this post I will explain how child support is calculated in Las Vegas, Nevada child custody cases. It is important to look at both the mathematical equation that Clark County Family Court Judges use to arrive at monthly child support payments for parents who have joint custody of their child and for parental arrangements where one parent has primary custody of the child.

Nevada child support laws use a standard equation to determine how much monetary support each parent should be providing for their child

Nobody questions that raising children is expensive. Nevada believes that both parents should fairly contribute as much as possible towards the monetary needs of their children.

The first thing that must be determined prior to a child support order being granted is custody. Child support payments will look different for two parents who share joint custody when compared to a situation where one parent has primary custody of a child or children.

A standard formula is applied in support matters once a child custody order has been entered. If one parent has sole physical custody then the other parent will have to pay 18% of their gross annual income in support. For two children, the payment is 25% of your gross annual income and the payments continue to increase for any additional children you may have with the parent in question. These amounts, however, are subjected to “caps” that adjust each July 1st. As of July 1st, 2014, these caps are as follows:

  • A Nevada parent earning less than $4,235 per month will pay no more than $670 in child support.
  • A parent earning between $4,236 and $6,351 per month will pay no more than $737 in monthly support
  • Those grossing between $6,351 and $8,467 per month will have support payments capped at $806 per month
  • One earning between $8,467 and $10,585 per month will have a cap of $871 per month.
  • Payments for incomes between $10,585 and $12,701 per month will be capped at $939 per month
  • A cap of $1,005 applies to monthly incomes between $12,701 and $14,816
  • Those earning more than $14,816 will have a cap of $1,074

A quick review of these caps shows that one may pay less than the statutory percentage of their income for child support when a cap is applied. For example, if one is earning $4,000 per month than 18 percent of their income (the statutory child support amount for one child) would be $720 per month. Since this person caps at $670 per month, however, their monthly child support obligation would be $670.

If two parents share joint custody- or spend at least 40% of the time with their child over the course of a year- than payment calculations are slightly different. Under Wright v. Osburn, each parent would calculate what they would have to pay the other parent, under the above formula, if the other party had primary custody. The difference between the two incomes then becomes the child support payment. For example, if 18 percent of the first parent’s income is $200 per month and 18 percent of the second parent’s income is $150 per month, then the first parent will pay the second parent a monthly amount of $50 ($200 – $150). It is important to understand that, under Wesley v. Foster, the above “caps” will not be applied when the Court is calculating each party’s income – the cap will only apply to the final amount in Nevada cases.

Nevada child support can be modified at anytime following a change in circumstances

The above calculations are based on a standard Nevada child support case in which there are no extenuating circumstances. The formula is the court’s best attempt to fairly divide the child’s needs between the two parents. However, the court also understands that gross income can change over time. Either parent may file for a change in child support if either parent either obtains a raise or loses a job. Parents may also file for a change in child support payments if a dramatic change to their circumstances has occurred- for example if one parent has become disabled, has to support a disabled family member, or has experienced some other type of change in finances beyond their control.

The Court may deviate from the standard formula, as well as the caps, under a number of situations. In my next post I will discuss how the court handles payments for children with special needs. If you are currently filing for child support in Nevada, it is important to have an attorney who understands how child support laws work. Contact our office today. We service the greater Las Vegas area and Pahrump.