Do You Pay Child Support When You Have Joint Custody?

Child custody and child support are two critical legal matters that need to be resolved when parents of a child do not live together. These issues may be determined during a divorce case or in separate legal actions. Under Nevada law, one parent may be required to pay support to the other parent, even when the parents have joint custody. The legal standards and rules that apply to custody and support determine whether that is the case. In this discussion, Las Vegas family law attorney Joseph Gersten explains the basic legal criteria that apply to both custody and support.

Child Custody in Nevada

Nevada law establishes two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to making important decisions about the child, such as those relating to education, medical treatment, and religion. Physical custody refers to the living arrangements for the child.

Joint custody may refer to joint legal custody or joint physical custody — or joint legal and physical custody. In determining custody arrangements for a child, including review of a parental agreement on custody, Nevada law requires judges to make decisions based solely on what is in the best interests of the child. A wide range of factors enter into deciding whether parents should have joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both.

Child custody agreements and court orders are often complex. If you are navigating custody issues with the other parent of your child or before a court, representation by a knowledgeable family law attorney ensures that you protect all your legal rights before any final decisions or determinations are made.

Joint custody terms in a court order may affect whether one parent must pay support to the other parent. Nevada courts evaluate child support issues based on complicated requirements in state laws and regulations.

Child Support in Nevada

In the State of Nevada, both parents of a child have a legal obligation to financially support a child under the age of 18 years. The obligation is enforced by the courts by applying detailed legal standards to the financial circumstances of each parent. Substantially revised child support regulations went into effect in Nevada in the year 2020. The new guidelines apply to all initial child support determinations, as well as to requests for modification or adjustment of an existing support order.

In Nevada, the amount of child support is based on each parent’s earnings, income, and other financial resources. Initially, the child support amount is based on a calculation that uses percentages of a parent’s income and the number of children. The calculation is presumed to meet a child’s basic needs, but that presumption can be overcome by evidence presented to the court. The judge may use specific criteria for deviating from the standard support guidelines to increase or decrease the support amount.

Parents may agree on the amount of child support, but the judge can reject the agreement if it does not comply with the state guidelines. 

Child Support in Joint Custody Cases

When parents have joint custody, determining child support payments can be very complicated. It makes a difference whether parents have joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or joint legal and physical custody.

When one parent has primary physical custody, the non-custodial parent is usually required to pay child support, based on the state guidelines. But if parents have joint physical custody, which means the child lives with each parent part of the time, the parent with higher earnings will usually pay child support to the other parent.

Generally, to determine support in a joint physical custody situation, the guidelines are applied to each parent’s income and financial resources to determine the support obligation of that parent. Then, the difference between the two support amounts is determined. The parent with the higher income pays the amount of the difference to the parent with the lower income. As explained above, the court can deviate from the calculated amounts based on specific evidence presented by one or both parents in court.

In any joint custody situation, both parents must navigate complex custody and support issues, while taking into account compliance with the detailed custody and support laws and guidelines. It’s usually best if the parents can negotiate a written agreement on the issues, but any agreement requires court approval. Since the court scrutinizes the terms of custody and support for consistency with state laws and rules, each parent should be represented by an experienced attorney during discussions and negotiations, as well as before the court. Attempting to resolve these issues without help from legal counsel can easily result in a parent failing to assert important legal rights or not providing critical evidence for the court’s consideration.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Las Vegas Child Custody and Support Lawyer

At The Gersten Law Firm, we assist clients with all family law matters, including child custody and child support. Las Vegas attorney Joseph Gersten understands the sensitivity and emotional aspects of child custody and support for parents. He approaches every case with compassion and understanding, as well as dedication to protecting the interests and rights of the client.

The Gersten Law Firm does not charge for your initial consultation. We serve clients in Las Vegas, Henderson, and elsewhere in Clark County. Call us at 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.

Categories: Nevada Family Law