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. In Nevada, the parent who receives child support is known as the "receiving parent" or "obligee," while the parent who has to pay is called "the paying parent" or "obligor."

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. Nevada child support orders are determined according to each parent's gross monthly income and a mathematical formula known as the child support guidelines.

Sometimes, the obligor stops paying child support. No matter the reason, the obligee will need to know what resources are available for enforcing and collecting child support.

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

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Division of Welfare and Supportive Services (DWSS) 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 DWSS is the Child Support Enforcement program.

DWSS 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, and
  • review existing orders and modify them if necessary.

Child support funds are not paid parent-to-parent, but rather the paying parent pays DWSS. This eliminates a great deal of parental conflict and uncertainty.

DWSS is also responsible for getting child support payments to the receiving parent. Receiving parents can choose to receive payments by direct deposit or via a Nevada Child Support Debit Card. The card is "charged up" with child support payments.

How is Overdue Child Support Collected?

Under the guidance of the DWSS, local District Attorney Family Support (DAFS) divisions enforce child support. DAFS 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:

  • Taking 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. DAFS can also use income withholding to take unemployment benefits, veterans and social security benefits, military support, and proceeds from the Thrift Savings Plan.
  • Refer cases to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety, which will suspend the driver's licenses of parents with arrearages. DAFS can also arrange to have a paying parent's recreational, professional, sporting, and occupational licenses suspended.
  • Intercept the paying parent's federal tax returns and apply them to any arrearages.
  • Report parents with arrearages to the consumer credit bureaus, which will damage those parents' credit ratings.
  • Garnish a paying parent's bank accounts.
  • 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.
  • File a legal action called an "order to show cause," which is also known as a "contempt" action. This will require the paying parent to go to court and explain to a judge why support hasn't been paid on time. Being found guilty of contempt can result in jail time or entry of a judgment that will damage the paying parent's credit score. (Note that a parent can also bring a contempt action on their own. However, most parents without an attorney will find it helpful to contact DAFS for assistance.)
  • Refer cases for criminal prosecution.
  • Enforce another state's child support judgment. Conversely, if a parent with a child support obligation moves away from Nevada, DAFS can work with the other state to ensure that the Nevada support is still paid.

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