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Under Nevada law, each parent is obligated to provide support for their children. When parents are together, this is common sense and happens naturally in the parents’ routine; one or both parents may work and the parents work together to make sure the child is fed, clothed, and generally cared for. 

When parents stop cohabitating, the financial support of the child becomes more complicated. The amount of child support and who will pay it depends on the custody arrangement between the parents. In either scenario, the Court uses a parent’s gross monthly income (“GMI”) to determine his or her obligation for the support of the child. 

Where one parent has primary physical custody, the non-custodial parent—the parent the children don’t live with most of the time— pays monthly child support to the custodial parent. In a joint physical custody arrangement, the higher earning parent is required to pay the lower earning parent the difference between their respective obligations. 

Child support can be a contentious issue, and parents often find themselves arguing over the amount. For this reason, child support is set according to precise state and federal laws. This guide answers common questions about child support in Nevada.

Who Determines Child Support?

The court determines the amount of child support owed by examining the parties’ respective gross monthly incomes, the custodial arrangement they exercise, and the number of children at issue. Whatever the court decides with respect to child support, it is imperative that the obligated parent complies with the child support order. Failure to follow the order and make timely and full child support payments can result in penalties that range from fines, to the suspension of the paying parent’s (also known as the obligor’s) driver’s license to and even jail time. 

How is Child Support Calculated?

Nevada, like most states, initially used a flat percentage approach to calculate child support. Under this approach, a parent’s child support obligation was subject to a presumptive maximum cap. However, in February 2020, Nevada began following a tiered approach. This new approach utilizes diminishing percentages on higher levels of income instead of maximum caps.

A parent’s income obligation is still calculated based on percentages of their monthly income, but the rate varies on the following tiered basis:

 

Gross Monthly IncomeOne ChildTwo ChildrenThree ChildrenFour ChildrenPer Additional child
For the first $6,000 or less16%22%26%28%+2%
$6,000 to $10,0008%11%13%14%+1%
$10,000 or more4%6%6%7%+.05%


For example, if the paying parent has one child and a gross monthly income of $7,000, she will be obligated to pay 16 percent of the first $6,000 of her gross monthly income (.16 x $6,000 = $960), and 8 percent of the remaining $1,000 of her gross monthly income (.08 x $1,000 = $80) for a total child support obligation of $1,040. 

Can Child Support be Modified?

The court will consider a request to modify a child support order if there is a significant change in circumstances. You may be eligible to modify your child support order if you lose your job, but the Court may impute an income to you if you quit your job and are “willfully underemployed.” Another change in circumstances might be filing for bankruptcy. 

A parent who is ordered to pay child support must continue to pay the court-ordered amount unless and until the Court grants the parent’s request to modify the order. In any case, a parent who wishes to modify his or her child support payment must file a motion for the modification or get the other parent to agree to the new amount in writing before he or she can modify or stop payments. 

What if the Parents Share Joint Custody?

There are two types of custody in Nevada: Physical custody refers to a parent’s right to have a child live with them. Legal custody refers to the authority to make decisions for the child, including those regarding the child’s medical needs and education.

In rare cases, when parents share joint physical custody and the parties have equal or very similar incomes, the court may determine that neither parent should be required to pay child support. However, when one parent has primary physical custody, that parent will be tasked with more of the child’s day-to-day expenses. In this scenario, the non-custodial parent will be required to pay child support to the custodial parent in order to equalize the amount of money both parents are paying for the child’s day-to-day needs. 

Does a Parent’s Child Support Obligation End or Change When the Children are With the Non-Custodial Parent During Vacations?

In cases where there are no prior agreements, child support payments continue even if the children spend extended periods with the non-custodial parent. A parent’s child support obligation is not reduced during extended visitations with the non-custodial parent.

How Do I Enforce Child Support if the Other Parent Moves to a Different State?

The 1992 Child Support Recovery Act makes it a federal crime for a parent to refuse to pay child support to a parent in another state.  A parent in Clark County who wishes to establish or enforce child support against a nonresident should contact the Nevada Child Support Interstate Office by sending an email to nevadainitiating@dwss.nv.gov or call (702) 486-1095.

What Happens if a Parent is Delinquent in Child Support Payments and is “In Arrears”?

A paying parent is deemed “in arrears” if he or she has not kept up with court-ordered child support payments. If this happens, the filing parent can request the court issue an order for repayment of arrears. This order, like other child support orders, can be enforced by the DA’s office.

What Can I do if I was Wrongfully Accused of Being in Arrears?

If you are wrongfully accused of being behind on your child support payments, you will have to prove to the courts that you made the payments. Keep accurate records of your payments in case you need to dispute a claim that you are delinquent or in arrears. Doing the following can help maintain these records:

  • Pay with a check or money order;
  • Keep receipts for items purchased for your children;
  • Keep copies of your bank statements showing direct deposits from or wire transfers to the other party; 
  • Request wage garnishment so that your payments are automatically taken out of your paycheck.

Do I Still Have to Pay Child Support if My Ex Is Not Letting Me See the Kids?

If the other parent refuses to allow you access to your child, you must continue your child support payments. The court will not look kindly on someone who refuses to pay child support because the other parent is withholding the child, and the paying parent may fall into arrears and be required to make up delinquent payments. 

Similarly, parents are not allowed to withhold a child simply because the other parent is not paying child support. The proper way to hold the paying parent accountable for his or her child support obligation is to contact the DA’s office and request enforcement of the order, request a court order garnishing the paying parent’s wages, or request that the paying parent be held in contempt.

In sum, if you have been ordered to pay child support, you must continue to make payments unless and until the Court issues a new order.

What Should I do if I Need Help with My Child Support Case?

This child support FAQ covers common questions separated parents have, but it is always best to seek professional legal help if you are seeking to establish, enforce, or modify child support. 

For highly skilled representation in your child support matter, please contact McFarling Law Group at 702-766-6671 to schedule a free, confidential 30-minute consultation with one of our Las Vegas attorneys.

Disclaimer: You should not take any information in this blog as legal advice in any situation. If you need expertise for a specific problem of yours, contact our office to schedule a consultation.