What You Should Know About Child Support in Nevada
If you are a single parent living in Nevada and have any questions regarding child support, keep reading. Below you will find information that corrects some common misconceptions we see every day in our family law practice about child support in Nevada. If you have any questions that are not answered below, feel free to comment on the post and we will do our best to respond your your question. Please also feel free to set up a consultation with us via our “contact us” page.
Navigating the child support laws in Nevada can be tricky and there are dozens of common misconceptions that can cost litigants thousands of dollars because they do not understand the intricacies of Nevada support law. Below are some examples of common pitfalls and the information you need to avoid them.
1. I don’t have to pay support because there is no court order.
Yes you do. Under Nevada’s family support laws, the parent’s obligation to support a child begins from birth. For both parents, this is defined as the reasonable costs of care and maintenance for the minor child. For the father, this includes the mother’s “costs of confinement.” This means that dad will be responsible for at least some (usually 50%) of mom’s medical expenses including pre-natal, post-natal and hospitalization costs.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about your child support obligation is that it begins regardless of the existence of a formal court order. The custodial parent does NOT have to have a formal determination by a court that you owe support. Once the custodial parent files a court action, the court can order you to pay support up to 4 years immediately preceding the filing of the complaint.
For example, your child is born on 1/1/2012. You are not living with the mother and have not provided any payments to her for the support of your child. Mom gets fed up and files for support on 1/1/2014. When determining what your prospective child support obligation should be, the Court will also assess against you 24 months of past support notwithstanding that you were not formally ordered to pay. To determine this amount, the court most often takes your prospective monthly payment and multiplies it by the number of months you haven’t paid then issues a judgment against you for that amount.
So, let’s assume for illustration purposes that your prospective payment is calculated to be $650.00 per month. At the time this amount is established, the Court will also enter a judgment against you for $15,600.00 ($650.00 x 24 months) and most likely order you to pay $100.00 on top of your regular obligation to satisfy this debt.
2. My ex has never asked for support so I don’t have to pay.
Pay it anyway. It does not matter whether the custodial parent ever demands payment or files an action for support. If you have your child less than 40% of the time, you are responsible to pay support according to Nevada law. If you have your child 40-60% of time, you still may be obligated to pay support under Nevada law. Be sure to talk to an attorney to determine the exact amount you should be paying so that you make sure your payments meet the statutory requirements.
3. My ex said not to worry about child support so I’m not going to pay.
Big mistake. Child support is like “death and taxes.” It is virtually inescapable except under very limited circumstances. Lets take the following scenario as an example:
Mom and Dad divorce and Dad is ordered to pay child support for the parties’ eight year old son. After a few months, Dad loses his job and falls behind. Mom, being the understanding co-parent that she is, says “don’t worry about it for now” and “just pay if you can.” Dad does not make any more payments. Dad continues to have visitation with son, has regular conversations with Mom and, despite the fact that Dad is now thousands of dollars behind, the issue of back child support is never raised.
Shortly after son’s 17th birthday and without warning, Mom files an action with the district attorney’s office for enforcement of the child support order, 9 years from the date of its original entry. At the first court appearance, Dad implores the court that he should not have to pay because Mom told him “not to worry about it.”
Sorry Dad, you’re going to pay back every dime. There is no statute of limitations on the collection of previously ordered child support, which means that Mom can try to collect no matter how long its been since she last asked you for money. Unless Mom demonstrates “intentional relinquishment of a known right” she has not waived her right to the child support. Waiver requires some affirmative and definitive act showing that Mom understood her right to support and intended to waive it forever. In the example above, Mom’s casual statements would likely be insufficient to be considered a waiver.
The only way to ensure that you will not be obligated to repay the “waived” support is to have a written stipulation and order signed by both parties that can be filed with the Court commemorating your agreement.
4. I lost my job 9 months ago so my child support went down, right?
NO. While the amount of child support you pay is tied to a percentage of your income, your obligation remains static unless adjusted by subsequent court order. The court can and will lower your support obligation at any time you have a decrease in income of 20% or more. However, you must take the affirmative step of filing a request for modification immediately when the decrease in income occurs.
Nevada law is very clear in stating that child support cannot be retroactively modified. This means that your child support obligation can only be lowered prospectively beginning from the date you file your request. In the scenario above, you would still have to pay the original amount for the nine months you were unemployed and would continue to have to do so until you filed a request for relief from the existing order.
The inverse is also true. If you are receiving support and the non-custodial parent receives an increase in income of 20% or more, you should immediately file for an adjustment in the support amount. Again, the court will only adjust the obligation prospectively from the date of your request forward, so you could be giving up a substantial amount of money by not filing immediately.
Hopefully the information above has cleared up some confusion regarding child support laws in Nevada. Please post a comment if you have other questions you want answered or set up an appointment to come meet with our highly experienced Las Vegas child support attorneys, in person. If you have any questions regarding Nevada family law please contact us, we are here to help.