When to Modify Child Support

Child support amounts, ordered by the court, can be modified. However, the Nevada courts understand financial situations, and custody scheduled  are not formed in stone and can change. To accommodate the changes Nevada has created rules when child support can be modified.

To modify child support there needs to be a change in circumstances. There are typically three circumstances under which child support orders can be modified; 1) there has been at least a 20 percent change in a parent’s gross income, 2) three years has passed since the last child support order, or 3) there has been a change in custody.

20 Percent Change in Income

If there has been a 20 percent change in the income of the parent subject to child support then a modification can be requested. When we are talking primary physical custody this means the parent without primary custody. When we are talking joint physical custody then a percent change in either parent’s monthly gross income would qualify. The change can be an increase or a decrease in income.

The child support modification is not automatic. You must request a child support modification either by discussing with the other parent or by filing a Motion for Child Support Modification. Always discuss the modification with the other parent before filing a motion. If you know the gross monthly income of both parents you can figure our child support with our online child support calculator.

The common situations we see with the change of income is a parent losing a job, or a parent receiving a promotion. Losing a job is a valid reason to ask for a decrease in child support. Unless, you quit or were fired for cause. In these situations, the court may impute your income because they feel you could be working.

The court will not typically impute income for work force reduction or layoffs. However, unemployment benefits can used to calculate child support. For temporary changes, like seasonal jobs, or transitions to new employment, or one time bonuses we don’t recommend filing a modification. Even if the change is 20%. By the time you have your day in court the income will be back to normal.

Every Three Years

Under Nevada law child support amount may be reviewed every three years. If three or more years have elapsed since the most recent child support order, you can ask your spouse to submit new paystubs to calculate a new child support figure. A 20 percent change in income is not required. Either parent can ask for the review.

Again, the court will not make the modification automatically? You must request the modification. The other parent needs to receive notice, and the court needs to review the financial documents submitted, before they can make a new child support order.

Typically, this happens with parents exchanging financial paystubs, and other documents proving monthly income. If they refuse to share documents then you could file your motion, and the judge may reimburse you for the attorney fees spent to file the motion.

Change in Custody

In cases of joint physical custody, Nevada uses an “offset” in calculating child support. In primary physical custody situations, there is no offset. If the custody arrangement changes from joint physical to primary physical, or vice versa, a new calculation of support should be made. For example, you are paying $787 in child support and mom originally had primary physical custody. Now the situation has changed and you have joint physical custody. The $787 should be adjusted by offsetting mom’s child support obligation from yours. (For more explanation on this calculation we recommend you review Calculating Child Support).

This change in custody is considered a change in circumstance, similar to the 20 percent change income. Just like in the change of income you should ask the other parent to stipulate to the change in child support. If they doesn’t agree then you can file a motion.

Child Support Modification Process

What is the first step for a modification? You have two paths to a modification; a stipulation, or a court modification. A stipulation is where you and the other parent have exchanged financial documents, calculated the amounts and  file the new amounts with a court. This is still a legal process. You must file documents with the court agreeing to the new child support calculation. Simply verbally agreeing does not work. If you verbally agree to the change, it may not be legally enforceable. We have seen horror stories where parents verbally agreed to a reduced amount and then years later a parent enforces the previous child support order.

A court modification is where a motion is filed, evidence of income is reviewed by the judge, and the judge orders the new child support amount. Before filing a modification you must first reach out to the other parent, or respond to the other parent. If a parent resists this attempt to modify support amicable, the court may award attorney fees. The resistance must be “willful” and without justification. A parent who believes the request is without merit, should still provide their financials documents. You can exchange your financial documents, but disagree with signing a stipulations because you think the calculations are wrong, or deviations are appropriate.

Deviating Child Support

Another area of modification is deviation. Nevada has standard child support formula, but there are times when the calculations can be deviated from. Reasons for deviation must be discussed, and reviewed. Typical reasons to deviate are special needs of the child, cost of health care, and cost of child care. For more details on reasons to deviate read Deviating Nevada Child Support.