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Child Support Division: FAQs

What is Paternity Establishment?

Paternity means fatherhood. Establishing paternity means making the biological father a legal father too.

Why is establishing paternity important?

Both parents and the child have the right to a parent-child relationship. Both parents and the child deserve an opportunity to develop, enjoy and grow in this relationship.

IDENTITY: It is important to know who we are.  Your child has the right to the sense of belonging that comes from knowing both parents. 
MONEY: The law requires both parents to support their children. This is true even with an unplanned pregnancy. Children supported by one parent often do not have enough money for their needs.
BENEFITS: Your child has the right to other benefits from both parents. These may include Social Security, insurance benefits, inheritance rights, veterans and other types of benefits.
MEDICAL: Your child may need a complete medical history from the families of both parents. This could include inherited health problems.

Both parents have the right to know and the responsibility to support their son or daughter.

What if I am not sure who the father of my child is?

Our office can help you in identifying and locating the alleged father. To locate absent parents, the Child Support Division uses local and state locate resources such as motor vehicle registration, driver’s license, employment files, and credit bureau reporting.  In some cases, we can utilize social security, income tax and military service records through the federal government to locate absent parents.

When is paternity genetic testing necessary?

When the alleged father questions or denies paternity.

How is paternity testing done?

If genetic testing is necessary in establishing paternity, the alleged father will be asked to sign a stipulation and the District Court Judge will order testing.  You will be scheduled to come to our office with the child where our trained staff will perform the testing.  The method of testing is called Buccal Swab, where the case worker will take samples of your DNA by rubbing a Q-tip on the insides of the cheek.  It is non-invasive and does not cause pain.  The samples are sent to LabCorp where the tests compare many different and complex details of the child’s cells with similar details in the mother’s and father’s cells.

Who pays for the testing?

Generally, if the alleged father becomes the biological father by way of paternity testing the cost is adjudicated in the child support order and the father pays it.  If a test is performed and it is proven that the alleged father is NOT the biological father the state pays the expense.  

What if the father or mother is not 18 years old yet?

A person of any age can be tested.  The age of the father or mother is not relevant under Nevada paternity establishment laws.

Who can recover child support?

By statute, “the physical custodian of a child may recover from the parent without physical custody, a reasonable portion of the cost of care, support, education and maintenance provided by the physical custodian.  In the absence of a court order, the parent who has physical custody may recover not more than 4 years’ support furnished before the bringing of the action.”  NRS 125B.030

How does the physical custodian of minor children get court ordered child support from the non-custodial parent?

Every child has the right to support from both parents – it does not matter whether the parents are divorced, separated or were never married.  Each parent has a legal obligation to provide for the maintenance, health care, education and support of their minor children (for purposes of child support, generally a child is considered to be a minor until he or she reaches 18 years of age).

The person with physical custody of minor children (that is, the adult with whom the minor children live for more than 50% of the time) can obtain a court order for child support from the non-custodial parent(s) several different ways
1.  Child support may be ordered/agreed to in a divorce or separate maintenance action.
2.  Child support may be ordered (temporarily) as part of an Extended Protection Order.
3.  Child support may be ordered through an enforcement or establishment action brought by the Douglas County District Attorney's Child Support unit on behalf of the custodial parent or non-parent/custodian.
4.  Child support may be ordered/agreed to in a civil paternity action.

Do I need an attorney to obtain a child support order?

Although it is usually advisable to seek legal assistance on child support matters, it is not necessary.  The Douglas County District Attorney's Child Support Division can assist a physical custodian of minor children in obtaining child support orders.  In addition, a lawyer is not required, but recommended, to obtain a divorce or separate maintenance decree; anyone may represent himself or herself in Family Court (by proceeding “in proper person”), and obtain an order of child support through either action.

Extended Protection Order

An applicant for an Extended Protection Order may be granted a temporary order for child support.  If another family law action is pending, this temporary order will last for 60 days; if there is no other pending family law matter, the order may last for as long as the protection order remains in effect, which could be up to one year.

What does the Douglas County District Attorney's Child Support Division do?

The Douglas County District Attorney's Child Support Division offers Douglas County residents a variety of services relating to the support of minor children residing in Douglas County, Nevada.  Among other things, the Child Support Division will establish a child’s paternity, obtain and enforce child support orders, make sure the child has insurance, locate a missing parent, review and modify child support orders, and provide child support payment collection and processing services.

What if I was never married to the father/mother of my child?

The parents of a child do not have to be married to one another in order to be held legally responsible to support their child.

If you are the father of a child, you may ask the Douglas County District Attorney's Child Support Division to obtain child support from the mother, even if you were never married to her, so long as you have custody of your child.

If you are the mother of the child, and if paternity is not an issue, you may ask the Douglas County District Attorney's Child Support Division to obtain child support from the father.  If paternity is denied by the alleged father, there are at least two different ways you can seek to have a court determine whether the alleged father is the biological father of your child and responsible to pay child support.

Otherwise, you may ask the Douglas County District Attorney's Child Support Division to start a paternity/establishment action for you.  The Child Support Division does not charge a fee for its services.  For information on how to obtain Child Support services, please see the materials attached.

If you are the non-parent, physical custodian of a child, you may ask the Douglas County District Attorney's Child Support Division to obtain an order directing the parents to pay child support.

How is the amount of child support determined?

In Nevada, either parent may be ordered to pay temporary or permanent child support.  Nevada law contains specific guidelines for the correct amount of child support to be awarded.  In determining the amount of child support, the court considers the following statutory formula:

  • 1 child, 18% of the parent’s gross monthly income (before taxes);
  • 2 children, 25%;
  • 3 children, 29%;
  • 4 children, 31%
  • for each additional child, an additional 2% of the parent’s gross monthly income is added.

Generally, Nevada law presumes that the percentages of the non-custodial parent’s gross monthly income will be sufficient to support a child; however, the minimum amount of support that will be awarded is $100.00 per month, per child, and the maximum amount of support that will be awarded is up to $968.00 per month, per child.  Moreover, a court may adjust the amount of support for a child upon specific findings of fact concerning the following:

  1. The cost of health insurance for the child;
  2. The cost of child care for the child;
  3. Any special educational needs of the child;
  4. The age of the child;
  5. Any responsibility of either parent to support other persons;
  6. The values of services contributed by either parent;
  7. Any public assistance paid to support the child;
  8. Any pregnancy and confinement expenses of the mother;
  9. Any travel expenses related to the child visiting the parents;
  10. The amount of time the child spends with each parent;
  11. The relative or comparative income of each parent; and
  12. Any other necessary expenses of the child.

How long does the obligation to pay child support last?

Generally, a non-custodial parent must pay child support until the child reaches 18 years of age.  However, if the child is still in high school, the obligation to pay child support will continue until the child’s graduation from high school or until the child’s 19th birthday, whichever occurs first.  In addition, if a child was handicapped before his or her 18th birthday, support may be ordered until the child is no longer handicapped or until the child becomes self-supporting.  A non-custodial parent’s obligation to pay child support will stop if a child is emancipated by judicial order, or if the child is legally adopted into another family.

Can an order for child support be changed?

Most child support orders are fair and reasonable at the time they are entered; however, the circumstances of people’s lives often change.  An order for child support may be modified every three years or upon a material change in circumstances.  Either parent may petition in Family Court for a modification of child support.  If the Douglas County District Attorney's Child Support Division is handling your child support enforcement or payment processing, they will also seek review of a child support order upon the request of either parent.

Even though child support was ordered, the non-custodial parent is not making payments.  How can I enforce an order for child support?

The Child Support Division caseworkers use a number of enforcement tools available to convince the non-custodial parents to cooperate and begin making their monthly payments for child support.  If they are not successful using these tools, the case will be discussed with the staff attorney and the next logical step will be taken.

Modifications

If you have a court order which is at least 3 years old, have had a material change of circumstance (custody change, etc.) or the on-custodial parent’s income has increased or decreased by 20% or more and expects it to stay that way for 6 months or more, the Child Support Division will review your support order according to the Child Support Guidelines, and will recommend a modification of the order, if appropriate.  You are required to have an open/active case with the Douglas County District Attorney's Child Support Division for this service.  You can download the Request for Modification form, complete along with a Financial Declaration and submit it to our office for review.  

How do I receive my payments?

You have a choice of receiving your payments through direct deposit into your checking account or by way of a Nevada Debit Card.  If you wish to receive direct deposit, please download the appropriate form, complete and fax, along with a voided check, to (702) 486-8592.  If you wish to receive payments on a Nevada Debit Card you don’t need to do anything.  Approximately 2 weeks after your first payment is received a debit card will arrive in the mail.  The debit card can be used at any merchant who accepts credit cards and you can request cash back if you wish.  Complete details will be sent to you by the issuing bank.  You MUST notify both the Douglas County District Attorney's Child Support Division and the issuing bank when your address changes to ensure uninterrupted service.

What is the Nevada Debit Card? 

The Nevada Debit Card is a Visa debit card.  Child support payments are transferred electronically into your account from which you can access your money at any ATM.  In addition, the card will carry the Visa logo, allowing you to make purchases wherever Visa debit cards are accepted.  Although the Nevada Debit Card carries the Visa logo, it is not a credit card.  You are using your own money from child support payments on your behalf.

What is direct deposit?

The Child Support Enforcement Programs sends an electronic payment to your bank account with the exact amount of child support payment we received on your behalf.  You can then withdraw the money, keep it in your account, or pay bills.  With direct deposit, your money is available sooner than traditional methods of payment.  Best of all, direct deposit protects your payments from being lost or stolen.  

What choice is best for me? 
 
Your best choice depends on your situation.  Both direct deposit and the Nevada Debit Card provide many of the same benefits.  There are no checks to get lost or stolen, the money is available to you as soon as it is deposited, and your payments will not be interrupted, even if you move.  One important consideration is cost.  The Child Support Enforcement Program does not charge any fees for using the direct deposit service or the Nevada Debit Card.  However, The Nevada Debit Card may have transaction fees charged by the issuing bank when using the Nevada Debit Card.  These fees will be disclosed in full to you when you receive a Nevada Debit Card, and you will be given instructions on how to minimize these fees as much as possible.

How do I choose direct deposit?

To request direct deposit, you must complete a Direct Deposit Information and Authorization Agreement, and fax, along with a voided check, to (702) 486-8592.

What fees will I have to pay if I choose direct deposit?

The Child Support Enforcement Program offers direct deposit free of charge.  Although most banks provide direct deposit services without charge, you should check with your bank about any fees it may charge.

What fees will I have to pay if I receive the Nevada Debit Card?

You may be subject to certain ATM and other transaction fees if you receive the Nevada Debit Card.  Generally, you can avoid fees by asking for cash back when purchasing items at participating stores.  You will receive information regarding fees when the card is sent to you by the issuing bank.

Will the card say that it is child support money?

No.  There is nothing on the card itself to indicate that the funds associated with the card are child support payments.  The front of the card has the Visa logo and looks like a credit card.

My credit is bad.  Can I still receive a Nevada Debit Card?

Yes.  While the Nevada Debit Card looks like a credit card, it is not a credit card, and your credit rating has no effect on you receiving a Nevada Debit Card.

For additional information regarding the Nevada Debit Card, please call the Child Support Customer Service Unit toll free at 1-800-992-0900.

How do I make my payments?

Most parents pay court ordered child support by payroll deduction.  However for those parents that are unable to pay through a payroll deduction beginning March 4, 2013 support payments may be made 24 hours a day and seven days a week by debit card, electronic check, Visa, Mastercard or Discover using the self-service interent or telphone payment processing.  
 
Parents wishing to pay child support online may visit https://dwss.nv.gov/?ChildSupportSCaDU.html.

Mark B. Jackson


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