Deviating from Nevada’s Child Support Formula

In Nevada, 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 that judges and attorneys must follow. The child support formula can be found under Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 125B.070, or by using the online child support calculator created by our team of skilled divorce attorneys. However, there are times when deviating child support is necessary.

It is presumed that this child support formula is adequate for the children’s needs. However, a skilled divorce lawyer can request to change the standard calculation under certain circumstances. A judge has limited ability to “deviate”, or change the amount of support, from the child support guidelines provided. NRS 125B.080 explains under which situations a change can be made to the standard calculation.

Typical Situations in Deviating Child Support

  1. The cost of health insurance – If a parent pays the child’s health insurance premiums, then that parent can deduct at least half of the premium from his or her payment. There is a requirement for both parents to cover the medical costs of a child. Additionally, the amount of child support you are receiving can increase due to healthcare costs.
  2. The cost of child care – We all know child care is expensive. If a support paying parent is paying for child care, they can deduct this amount from their support obligation. If the parent receiving support is paying for child care, they may receive an additional amount. However, judges do not always consider having a relative watch the child as a child care expense. It may, and will, depend on the true out-of-pocket expense for care.
  3. Special needs of the child – This is the most common reason for requesting a support increase. Special needs children may require special schooling, equipment, therapy, medical care, transportation, or a special diet. The parent caring for the child may also miss significant time from work or work reduced hours.
  4. The legal responsibility of others – This is where the “other” family or “other” children come into play. The court may or may not deviate if you have other children. New family obligations are 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 a parent remarries? A judge may choose to consider it. Our divorce attorneys have significant experience with navigating situations where one parent doesn’t need to work because of the new spouse’s income.
  5. The value of services contributed by either parent – For example, one parent might construct a playground apparatus for the child. A parent may transport the child to various activities. Watching the children and saving the other parent from daycare fees is another example. In exchange for these services, that parent may have a lower child support obligation.
  6. Any public assistance paid to support the child – Many parents receive outside support for their children. If a parent receives money from the government, a reduction in the amount of support may occur. A common example is a child receiving Social Security Disability payments. Additionally, military dependents often receive public assistance money.
  7. The cost of transportation – If the custodial parent receiving the support moved out of the state with the child, a judge may subtract the travel expenses for the other parent from the child support. This does not apply to travel expenses between Henderson and North Las Vegas. For example, a judge gives a mother 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.
  8. The amount of time the child spends with each parent – If a child spends a significant amount of time with the parent without custody, this may be considered when reducing the amount of support. However, the court has stated this factor holds less weight than other criteria. The willingness of a parent to spend time with his or her children does not 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 is unwilling to take advantage of the visitation schedule. 2) A parent who has joint custody, but doesn’t take advantage of visitation, may pay more support. Not as a punishment, but due to the extra expenses the custodial parent experiences because of the extra time (ie, daycare, food).
  9. The relative income of both parents – Where one parent is wealthier than the other, the court may order the wealthier parent to pay more in support. In 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 judge ordered the deviation based on the difference in wealth and the extra expenses of a teenager.

Practical Advice for Deviation

The Nevada Supreme court ruled that laws on child support should focus on a parent’s duty to provide a fixed percentage of income as support. The ultimate policy objective should be the welfare of the child.

When the court orders a deviation, either up or down, it must make a finding of fact. The court must justify, in writing, any departure from the formula. 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 divorce lawyer must provide a reason why. Any such deviation must be based upon the legal factors provided in NRS 125B.080, or as we discussed above.

Do you have questions regarding the process of deviating child support? Contact a Las Vegas Divorce Attorney at RIGHT Lawyers.  Call (702) 825-6856 to talk with our staff or to schedule a consultation.