Child Support Enforcement in Nevada

Learn how child support is enforced and overdue payments are collected in Nevada.

This article will explain how child support orders are enforced in the State of Nevada. If you have any questions about child support enforcement after you read this article, you should contact a family law attorney for advice.

Child Support Enforcement

In Nevada, child support is intended to pay for the basic care (food, shelter, clothing, education) and medical support (insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs) of children. For purposes of this article, the parent who receives child support is known as the “receiving parent,” while the parent who has to pay is called “the paying parent.”

The parent who has physical custody (meaning, the parent who cares for the children more frequently) spends a greater percentage of time with the children. That parent pays for more of the children’s needs by virtue of the fact that they're together more often. So the other parent (also known as the non-custodial parent), who spends less time with the children, has to make regularly scheduled child support payments in order to ensure that each parent is paying a fair share of the children's expenses.

Whether you’re divorcing or you’ve never been married, when your relationship ends you need to get an official child support order. In Nevada, child support orders are determined according to each parent's gross monthly income and a mathematical formula known as the child support guidelines. For a detailed discussion of how child support is calculated and who renders a support decision, please see Child Support in Nevada by Teresa Wall-Cyb.

When child support disputes happen, some paying parents stop paying support. Receiving parents will need to know what resources are available to them to enforce and collect child support.

What Role Does the State of Nevada Play in Child Support Enforcement?

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services is a state agency which serves the citizens of Nevada with regard to child support, child care, energy assistance, food, financial help, and medical programs. Within the Department is a separate unit called Child Support Enforcement (CSE). The purpose of CSE is to enforce state and federal laws about child support.

CSE performs critical child support functions. It uses an administrative (non-judicial) process to:

  • locate missing parents
  • establish paternity of children born to unmarried couples
  • set up child and medical support obligations
  • review existing orders and modify them if necessary, and
  • enforce child and medical support obligations.

Child support funds are not paid parent-to-parent, but rather the paying parent pays CSE. This eliminates a great deal of parental conflict and uncertainty. Nevada issues a Nevada Debit Card to the receiving parent. The card is “charged up” with child support payments. Alternatively, CSE can arrange for direct deposit of child support into the receiving parent’s bank account.

CSE can also use collection and enforcement measures when paying parents aren’t meeting their child support obligations. However, the family courts can also enforce child support orders, so in urgent or complicated cases, parents might find that hiring a private lawyer - one who can go to court and argue to a judge on their behalf - is more effective than waiting for CSE to act.

How is Overdue Child Support Collected?

CSE has legal and financial powers it can use to extract money from parents with past-due child support accounts (known as arrearages). They include, but are not limited to:

  • CSE can take money directly from a parent’s paycheck by using income withholding. Notice must be provided to the parent and the parent’s employer or payer of funds. CSE can also use income withholding to take unemployment benefits, veterans and social security benefits, military support, and proceeds from the Thrift Savings Plan.
  • CSE can refer cases to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety, which will suspend the driver’s licenses of parents with arrearages. CSE can also arrange to have a paying parent’s recreational, professional, sporting, and occupational licenses suspended.
  • CSE can intercept the paying parent's federal tax returns and apply them to any arrearages.
  • CSE can report parents with arrearages to the consumer credit bureaus, which will damage those parents' credit ratings.
  • CSE can garnish a paying parent’s bank accounts. It can also file liens against property and claims against estates. The liens and claims won't be released until the paying parent catches up on all arrearages. This means the paying parent can't sell or transfer any of these assets until child support is brought current.
  • CSE can file a legal action called an “order to show cause,” which is also known as a "contempt.” This will require the paying parent to go to court and explain to a judge why support hasn't been paid on time. Contempts are very serious. They can result in jail time or entry of a judgment that will damage the paying parent's credit score.
  • CSE can refer cases for criminal prosecution.
  • If a parent has moved to Nevada from another state, CSE can enforce the other state’s child support judgment. Conversely, if a parent with a child support obligation moves away from Nevada, CSE can work with the other state to ensure that the Nevada support is still paid.

Resources

Nevada Revised Statutes (scroll down to Title 11, Domestic Relations)

Nevada Legal Services (child support information and legal aid for qualifying individuals)

Nevada Department of Health and Human Services: Division of Welfare and Supportive Services

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