Like most areas of the law, there is the general rule and then there are exceptions. The astute attorney can present information to the Court to assist the judge making a decision on an important decision like child support so long as there is a legal basis for that decision supported by findings.
In Nevada, child support law is now covered under the Nevada Administrative Code Chapter 425. This replaced the prior Nevada child support statute, NRS 125B.070. This change went into effect February 1, 2020.
Parents have a duty to support their children and the child custody label affects what the child support would be and the percentage. For purposes of this article, lets focus on Parent A having Primary Physical Custody of one child and Parent B is the non-custodial/visitation parent.
Parent A Gross Monthly Income: $3,000 per month.
Parent B Gross Monthly Income: $4,000 per month.
As a general rule like in this scenario, the income of Parent A/custodial parent is largely irrelevant. It is the obligor parent, or Parent B as the noncustodial parent, who has the income that will be used for a child support calculation. With one child to support and based on their income, the math would be as follows:
$5,000 x 16% = $800/month.
The $800 is the starting point for child support. Parent B could argue that their finances would show that they have less disposable income than Parent A. Parent B could say that $4,000 - $800 = $3,200 is not enough money to live on and pay bills since Parent A now has $3,000 + $800 - $3,800. I do not believe any judge would modify this calculation. It costs money to raise a child so the Court could easily say the costs of food, clothing, and general living expenses are absorbed into the $800 award.
NAC 425.150 provides the Court with authority for deviations as to the monthly obligations based on the specific needs of a child and the economic needs of the Parties.
1. Any child support obligation may be adjusted by the court in accordance with the specific needs of the child and the economic circumstances of the parties based upon the following factors and specific findings of fact:
(a) Any special educational needs of the child;
(b) The legal responsibility of the parties for the support of others;
(c) The value of services contributed by either party;
(d) Any public assistance paid to support the child;
(e) The cost of transportation of the child to and from visitation;
(f) The relative income of both households, so long as the adjustment does not exceed the total obligation of the other party;
(g) Any other necessary expenses for the benefit of the child; and
(h) The obligor’s ability to pay.
What if a parent is paying child support to another parent that is different than the Parent A vs. Parent B case? This is subfactor (b). Often times, the Court can lower the child support in the current case in an amount deemed appropriate, such as $100/month. The Judge just has to know about the obligations Parent B has and the support of another child is relevant for the current child support litigation.
Cost of transportation in subfactor (e) is relevant. If someone moves out of Nevada with their child with a valid order, the Court has the inherent power to set child support but consider if the custodial parent moved, there would be an increased cost to effectuate visitation as to the other parent. The Court can do a separate order as to who pays the cost of transportation for the child such as splitting the airline ticket cost, etc. The Court can also lower the obligor’s child support by perhaps $100/month to cover the cost of airline tickets amortized over the year.
When it is the noncustodial parent that moved away from Nevada such as parent B, the Court is likely not going to lower child support since their choice to move increased the costs for visitation.
Ability to pay as outlined in subfactor (h) is always taken into consideration. However, the Court will review the expenses of the obligor parent and see what reasonable expenses for discretionary bills are such as a cell phone bill or a TV bill. Often times, parents complain about child support but have no problem paying a $300 a month cell phone bill. The support of children will always come first.
The bottom line is that child support and the calculation to go with that is not just set in stone. There are arguments both parents can make why an adjustment is necessary. The Attorneys at Roberts Stoffel Family Law Group can present likely scenarios so a parent knows what might be a likely outcome.