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The Deviation Factors of NRS 125B.080(9)

(This blog series is from excerpts of the article written by Bruce I. Shapiro, a Las Vegas family law attorney with Pecos Law Group, titled “The Lost Factors of NRS 125B.080(9): Deviating From Child Support Guidelines, 12 Nevada Family Law Report 1 (Spring, 1997) and is used with permission of the State Bar of Nevada. The footnotes have been deleted from these excerpts.

Part 1: Introduction and NRS 125B.080(9)(a)

The Child Support Enforcement Amendments of 1984 required all states to develop advisory mathematical guidelines to calculate child support awards by October 1, 1987. As a result, the Nevada legislature enacted NRS 125B.070 and 125B.080 in 1987, which statutes were modeled after Wisconsin’s percentage of income formula.

The Family Support Act of 1988 created a rebuttable presumption that guideline amounts represent the proper child support award and that deviation from the guidelines would be allowed only upon written findings that application of the guidelines would result in an unjust or inappropriate mathematical award. These federal laws recognized the need for more realistic and equitable child support awards which provide children with a standard of living comparable to that of their noncustodial parent.

NRS 125B.070 provides a formula based on a percentage of gross monthly income that the nonprimary parent shall pay for child support. NRS 125B.080(9) provides that the trial court may consider the following factors when deviating from the child support award called for by NRS 125B.070:

(a) The cost of health insurance;
(b) The cost of child care;
(c) Any special educational needs of the child;
(d) The age of the child;
(e) The responsibility of the parents for the support of others;
(f) The value of services contributed by either parent;
(g) Any public assistance paid to support the child;
(h) Any expenses reasonably related to the mother’s pregnancy and confinement;
(i) The cost of transportation of the child to and from visitation if the custodial parent moved with the child from the jurisdiction of the court which ordered the support and the noncustodial parent remained;
(j) The amount of time the child spends with each parent;
(k) Any other necessary expenses for the benefit of the child; and
(l) The relative income of both parents.

NRS 125B.080(9)(a). The cost of health insurance. Both parents are responsible for the health care needs of their children. Virtually every case involving minor children includes controversy over the cost of health insurance as it relates to the child support obligation. There is, however, no provision in NRS 125B specifically requiring either parent to provide or pay for health insurance. So it appears only fair that neither party should be required to bear the entire expense of maintaining health insurance for the minor children, and that the cost should be divided. The question then becomes whether this expense should be divided equally, or proportionately based on the parties’ respective incomes.

NRS 125B.080(7) provides that expenses for health care which are not reimbursed by insurance “must be borne equally by both parents in the absence of extraordinary circumstances.” Depending on the income levels of each parent, it would seem fair that, in most circumstances, the parents should equally divide the cost of health insurance for the minor children. If the custodial parent is providing the insurance, one-half of the cost should be added to the noncustodial parent’s child support obligation; if the noncustodial parent is maintaining the insurance, one-half of the cost should be deducted from the noncustodial parent’s child support obligation. In district courts of Southern Nevada, this has been a general practice.

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