Are the child support guidelines meant to cover all expenses related to children in California and Nevada?

By Leslie J. Shaw
January 02, 2018
Are the child support guidelines meant to cover all expenses related to children in California and Nevada?

California and Nevada have very different child support guidelines. It’s important to think back to when standardized child support guidelines became the law of the land and that largely became a consequence of federal funding for certain programs in the states that were for the benefit of minor children.

Every state was required to standardize their child support guideline but they weren’t required to adopt the same standard. Now Nevada has a guideline that sets forth a maximum amount of child support. It's based upon determining the number of children and which parent is the custodial parent. Once you determine which parent is the custodial parent and how many children are going to be supported, it's simply a multiplier of the paying spouse's gross income.

California comes up with a different guideline approach and it sets a minimum amount of child support. It's a much more complicated formula, complicated enough that as much as I have been involved in family law over these last 40 years now, I don’t know of anybody in California who can take pencil to paper and calculate support. We do have software programs that help us in doing that. In California what we're doing is we're setting minimum amounts of child support. So, it's very different standards, very different guidelines between the two states.

Now in each instance the court has discretion to depart from the product of the guideline, that there are different requirements and different standards for departure from those presumptively correct numbers in each state. In each state there are supplements to the guideline product which would involve things like unreimbursed healthcare expenses for children, which courts typically order the parents to share equally. Then there's separate considerations for things like child care expenses. So there are additional, what we call child support add-ons, to the product of the child support guideline. Those are all intended to meet the full needs of the child.

Leslie Shaw practices family law in both California and Nevada, and has been involved in close to 1,000 family law matters largely involving litigation throughout his 40 year career. He is also a Certified Family Law Attorney, a status granted by the California Board of Legal Specialization. To learn more about Leslie and his practice, please visit

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January 02, 2018
Categories:  FAQs

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