Overview: California and Nevada Child Support and Spousal Support
California and Nevada each have their own child support guidelines, which govern what one parent will pay and the other will receive in order to support minor children of the marriage during and after divorce. Both states’ guidelines also require additional child support above and beyond the guideline amount to cover unreimbursed health care expenses of the minor children. Here’s an overview of how child support and spousal support generally work in California and Nevada.
California Child Support and Spousal Support
California defines child support by establishing minimum sums to determine a child support amount that is presumptively correct. A parent opposing the sum produced by the formula has the burden of overcoming the presumption. Parenting time is one of the factors that is put into the formula for the purpose of establishing the presumptively correct child support sum. California has a binding and mandatory child support guideline to quantify monthly child support sums, and that guideline is based upon a formula that focuses largely on the number of children, the percentage of parenting time of each parent, and each parent’s net monthly income.
The guideline also mandates additional and further child support payments to address unreimbursed health care expenses of minor children, as well as the costs of child care incurred by a parent for purposes of work or education. As to spousal support, California clients face this obligation and entitlement at two stages of the proceeding: first, a preliminary spousal support award during the pendency of a dissolution action; and, second, when applicable, a long-term spousal support obligation from the end of the dissolution proceeding, prospectively, for a finite or infinite period of time. California law empowers the courts, in most instances, to retain jurisdiction, or power, to modify spousal support, from time to time, as the circumstances of the parties change and their ability to pay, or need for, spousal support changes accordingly.
Temporary spousal support is intended to preserve the marital status quo as existed at the time of the parties’ separation, while long-term spousal support is intended to address the circumstances of the parties in which they are left as a result of the dissolution.
Nevada Child Support and Spousal Support
Nevada’s child support formula is focused on establishing maximum levels of child support. The Nevada guideline focuses on establishing a percentage of the paying parent’s gross monthly income based upon the number of children to be supported. Contrasted with that number is a presumptive maximum sum of child support, presumed to be sufficient for any child that is determined by the paying parent’s gross income. Nevada also provides for a contribution, by way of additional child support, to unreimbursed health care expenses above and beyond the payment of the guideline sum.
Nevada does provide for offsetting child support obligations, one parent to the other, when the parties enjoy a minimum level of parenting time that qualifies as joint physical custody.
As to spousal support, Nevada marital partners continue to share in the financial partnership of community property through the divorce process, so courts will often divide all available community property equally between the parties rather than make one spouse pay spousal support to the other through the conclusion of the divorce proceeding. That is not to say that courts are not empowered to make awards of spousal support during a pending divorce, but simply that the Nevada courts have control over the continuing partnership income of the marriage and often use the division of that partnership income to meet support needs.
However, the Nevada courts are vested with substantial discretion to make a long-term support award upon the conclusion of a divorce to address the circumstances in which the spouses are left as a result of the divorce proceeding. In such instances, Nevada courts will oftentimes focus on a short-term, or specific sum, of spousal support for rehabilitative purposes of the recipient spouse.