What You Should Know About Child Support Deviations
Child support has a bad reputation for being unreasonably high for some. Because of this, most people going through a case involving child support want as much information on it as possible, including how to get it reduced. Although some parents may not come to this conclusion with the child’s best interests in mind, there are certain circumstances that warrant a reduction in child support. Before reducing child support, the court must calculate the appropriate amount of child support.
Determining Child Support
In determining the amount of child support, the court must use the child support guidelines established by the Administrator of the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services of the Department of Health and Human Services for Nevada. The guidelines provide a formula that judges and attorneys must follow to accurately calculate child support. The owing parent’s income, earnings, and other evidence showing ability to pay is the basis for a child support order. For an accurate determination of child support, both parties must provide complete financial information to their attorneys and the court.
The child support guidelines presumably meet the child’s basic needs through the use of a formula. However, a seasoned attorney understands that there are exceptions to every rule. In certain cases, deviating from the calculated child support amount is appropriate.
Child support is paid to the parent with primary physical custody, called the “obligee.” Conversely, the “obligor” is the non-primary physical custodian of the child. The obligor is the parent who has the legal obligation to pay child support. In situations where the parents have joint physical custody of the child, child support is still calculated by using each joint physical custodian’s respective gross monthly income to obtain their respective obligations. After that, the respective obligations are offset so that the parent with the higher obligation pays the other parent the difference.
Determining Gross Income
Both parents must stipulate the amount of their gross income for calculation of child support. If not, the court will assess all relevant financial information provided by the parents to determine gross income. Generally, gross income includes all salary and wages earned as well as income from qualifying benefits.
The court may impute income to the obligor if the court finds that the obligor is underemployed or unemployed without good cause. Imputing income means that the court uses an income, other than the one provided by the obligor, to assess the appropriate amount of child support with all relevant factors taken into consideration. This typically happens in situations where the obligor:
- Chooses not to work despite being able to do so;
- Has taken a job with a salary significantly lower than what they previously earned;
- Has quit their job for no apparent reason; or
- Has decided to pursue education or training that precludes them from earning a salary comparable to their previous earnings.
The court will likely impute income under these circumstances because the obligor created the circumstance for their unemployment or underemployment. However, this is not always the case, so the court allows deviations in certain cases for good cause.
Child Support Deviations
A child support deviation is an adjustment to the amount of child support calculated. There are instances where a judge may deviate from the calculated child support and instances where a judge must take into account factors warranting a child support deviation. This is required under Nevada law.
Although parties may request a deviation from the calculated amount of child support, it does not necessarily mean the deviation will be granted. The court may adjust child support based on a stipulation between the parties. However, the agreement must be in writing to be binding and set forth specific findings, factual information, and certifications to the court by both parties. Even if the parties do this, sometimes judges decline requests for a discretionary deviation if the court believes that the stipulation is a product of coercion or does not meet the needs of the child.
Nevada law provides for child support adjustments when circumstances are appropriate taking into consideration the following factors and specific findings of fact:
- The cost of health insurance;
- The cost of child care;
- Any special educational needs of the child;
- The age of the child;
- The legal responsibility of the parents for the support of others;
- The value of services contributed by either parent;
- Any public assistance paid to support the child;
- Any expenses reasonably related to the mother’s pregnancy;
- The cost of transportation of the child to and from visitation if the custodial parent moved with the child from the jurisdiction of the court which ordered the support and the noncustodial parent remained;
- The amount of time the child spends with each parent;
- Any other necessary expenses for the benefit of the child; and
- The relative income of both parents.
Even if a court decides to deviate from the calculated amount of child support, they must explicitly provide the reason for the deviation. The reasoning must be in writing and based on one of the factors above.
Modification of an Existing Order
Once the court has established an obligation for support, any modification or child support adjustment afterward, with limited exceptions, must be based upon changed circumstances. Once a child support order is established you must file a motion for review and modification or submit a stipulation to the court if you want to adjust the amount of child support. Proving changed circumstances is crucial to having your motion granted by the court. The attorneys at Mills & Anderson can assist you with modifying an existing child support order.
Get Assistance From Las Vegas Lawyers
Our experienced team of child support lawyers at Mills & Anderson is here to represent and empower you in obtaining child support deviations or other child support or custody orders. Our team has assisted clients going through cases involving child support for over a decade, and we understand the complexities of your situation.
Bryon L. Mills has extensive knowledge and experience working in the local family law courts in Clark County for over 15 years. Gregory Mills is well known for handling some of the most challenging family law cases. He has a long career as a trial lawyer, litigating more than 100 trials, and will not hesitate to advocate for his clients. Daniel W. Anderson has over a decade of experience in the family law arena. His wealth of knowledge allowed him to handle every type of family law case, including divorce, custody, termination of parental rights, adoption, non-parent visitation, child support and alimony, abuse and neglect, and guardianship.
Our firm is here to provide top-notch legal services and support throughout your case. Contact us for assistance today.