Included in this section is basic information about child support and paternity in Nevada.
Can I file for child support even though I don't have a custody order from court?
Yes, as long as the child is physically living with you. If the petition is against the child’s father, paternity must be established (even if there is no legal custody order). To read about the definition of paternity and how to establish paternity, go to How is paternity (legal fatherhood) established?
How is paternity (legal fatherhood) established?
The first thing that needs to happen before filing for child support is that the biological father needs to be recognized as the “legal father.” This is known as “establishing paternity.”
If you were married or widowed when you gave birth to your child, then your husband is automatically considered to be the child’s legal father (and paternity is automatically established). If you were unmarried when you gave birth to your child, paternity can be established in two ways:
- You and the father can sign form called a “voluntary acknowledgement of paternity” that must be witnessed or notarized and then filed with the Bureau of Health Planning & Statistics Office of Vital Records. Most hospitals can help with this process or you can get the voluntary acknowledgement form directly from the Bureau. The father can sign an acknowledgement of paternity even if he is married to someone else.
- If the father refuses to sign the form, you can file a paternity case in court. Once in court, if the father denies paternity, the judge would likely order genetic testing (a DNA test). The court decides who pays for genetic testing; generally the father pays the costs.1
If you cannot find the father, your local Child Support Office can assist you. They should help you in identifying and locating the father. You do not have to be on public assistance to get help from the Child Support Enforcement Program.
For more information on how to file a paternity case, you can contact your local courthouse. Please see our NV Courthouse Locations page for the contact information of a courthouse near you.
However, establishing paternity can also give the father the right to file for court-ordered visitation or custody. If this is a concern of yours, you might want to talk to a lawyer before filing a paternity case. To find a lawyer in NV, go to our NV Finding a Lawyer page.
1 This information was adapted from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services website
How will the amount of child support be decided?
Nevada, like most states, has a formula that it uses for determining how much a parent should pay in child support. Although there are exceptions, judges will generally award the parent who has custody the following percentage of the other parent’s gross income:
- for one child, 18 percent;
- for two children, 25 percent;
- for three children, 29 percent; and
- for more than three children, an additional 2 percent per child is added to the 29 percent amount.1
In addition to the child support amount ordered, every court order for the support of a child must include a term that says that one or both parents are required to provide medical support for the child and any details relating to that requirement.2
Upon the request of a parent or legal guardian, a child support order will normally be reviewed by the court once every three years to see if it should be modified (changed). However, it can be reviewed at any time if either parent makes the request on the basis of “changed circumstances.” One example of changed circumstances would be if the income of the parent who is paying the child support increased or decreased by 20 percent or more.3 Another example is if you are currently receiving child support, but feel that it is not enough to meet your child’s needs due to changed circumstances in the child’s life, you may be able to request that the court modify (change) the amount. To do this, you will file a motion to modify child support at your local courthouse. Please visit our NV Courthouse Locations page for the courthouse nearest you.
1 N.R.S. § 125B.070(1)(b)
2 N.R.S. § 125B.085(1)
3 N.R.S. § 125B.145(1), (4)
I was supporting my children by myself before I filed for child support. Can I get child support for that period of time?
When you file for child support, you have the right to seek support for the past four years leading up to the date you file for child support. However, you and the other parent must have been living separately for that period of time and you must have had physical custody of the child during that period.1
1 N.R.S. § 125B.030