Deviating from Nevada’s Child Support Formula
In Nevada, as in most states, the amount of child support to be paid by either parent is prescribed by a statutory formula. “Statutory” means a law made by Nevada’s state legislature. These are the laws judges and attorneys must follow. The child support formula can be found under Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 125B.070, or by using our online child support calculator.
This child support formula is presumed to be adequate for the children’s needs. However, there are circumstances where an increase from the standard calculation or a decrease can be requested. A judge has limited ability to “deviate”, or change the amount of support, from the child support guidelines provided. NRS 125B.080 explains the situations when the standard calculation can be increased or decreased.
Typical Situations in Deviating Child Support
- The cost of health insurance – If a parent pays the child’s health insurance premiums, then at least half of the premium can be deducted from his or her payment. There is a requirement for both parents to cover the medical costs of a child. If you purchase health insurance, the court feels you can request a portion of the premium to be subtracted from monthly child support if you are paying. Or, added to the amount if you are receiving child support.
- The cost of child care – We all know child care is expensive. If a support paying parent is paying for child care, this amount can be deducted from their child support obligation. Or, if the parent receiving child support is paying for child care, they may receive an additional amount. Having a relative watch the child is not always considered a child care expense. It may, and will depend on the true out-of-pocket expense for the care.
- Special needs of the child – This is the most common reason for requesting an increase in support. Special needs children may require special schooling, equipment, tutoring, therapy, medical care, transportation, or a special diet. The parent taking care of the child may also miss significant time from work or work reduced hours.
- The legal responsibility of others – This is where the “other” family or “other” children comes into play. The court may deviate if you have other children. However, they can choose not to. New family obligations shall be the exception to deviation, not the rule. If a parent has three children with three different people, the monthly calculation for each child would be 19% of the gross income.
What about when the parent gets remarried. Should their new spouse’s income be relevant? It might be considered. The court may consider the interest a parent has in their new spouse’s income. We have seen this when the parent doesn’t need to work because of the income of their new spouse.
- The value of services contributed by either parent – For example, one parent might construct a playground apparatus for the child, or one parent may transport the child to various activities. Watching the children, and saving the other parent daycare fees is another example. In exchange for these services, the parent may have their child support obligation reduced.
- Any public assistance paid to support the child – If a parent is receiving money from the government because of a parent’s eligibility, the amount of child support may be reduced by that amount. A common example is a child receiving Social Security Disability payments. Military dependents often receive public assistance money.
- The cost of transportation – If the custodial parent moved with the child from the state which ordered the support, the travel expenses for the other parent could be subtracted from the child support figure. This is not for travel expenses between Henderson, and North Las Vegas. For example, a mother is given permission to move from Nevada to Michigan. The father could receive a reduction in his child support equal to the costs to fly the child back to Nevada for visitation.
- The amount of time the child spends with each parent – If a child spends a significant amount of time with the parent not having custody, then the additional amount may be used in reducing the amount of support. However, the court has stated this factor to be of much lesser weight. The willingness of a parent to spend time with his or her children does not, by itself, reduce the child rearing related expenditures.
There are two opposites of this factor. 1) A court will not increase child support because a parent isn’t willing to spend time with their child, or unwilling to take advantage of the visitation schedule. 2) A parent who has joint custody and doesn’t take advantage of the visitation may be asked to pay more. Not as a punishment, but because of the extra expenses the custodial parent experiences because of the extra time; ie, daycare, food.
- The relative income of both parents – Where one parent has much greater wealth than another, the court may order the wealthier parent to pay more in child support. In a famous case, Love v. Love (1998), a district court’s order departed from the child support formula and raised the support to $1,800 per month. The increase was based on the vast difference in the parties’ wealth and the extra expenses of a teenager. The court explained that child support in this situation needed to be increases because of the parent’s means.
The Nevada Supreme court stated, although the ultimate policy objective may be the welfare of the child, laws on child support focus on a parent’s duty to provide a fixed percentage of his or her income as support.
When the court orders a deviation, either up or down, it must make a finding of fact. The court must justify any departure from the formula, in writing. In cases where the district court has failed to set the basis for the deviation from the formula, the appeals court has overturned the district court’s reduction or increase.
Even if a couple agree to the monthly child support the formula must explain any deviation. If the amount agreed to is different from the standard formula, then a reason behind why it is different needs to be explained in the court order. Also, any such deviation must be based upon the legal factors provided in NRS 125B.080, or as we discussed above.