Two weeks ago I spent some time discussing child support following divorce or separation as well as the proper means of calculating child support. Today I want to go into more detail regarding child support as a component of divorce (or paternity/support for unmarried parties). As my readers may recall, in my prior column I focused exclusively on “primary custody,” in explaining how child support is calculated. That was, perhaps, a little sneaky of me because Nevada law actually doesn’t prefer that either parent has primary custody of children following separation. Rather, the law prefers that parents share “joint” physical custody of children, which means that both parents have custody of children approximately half of the time over the course of a year (technically, 60%/40% is the cut off for joint physical custody).

Unless there is a good reason not to do joint physical custody, it is likely to be ordered by a court, which is based on a belief from Nevada’s legislature that shared custody will lead to better parent/child relationships and happier children. Thus, a parent seeking primary custody will have to convince the judge that, for some reason, allowing equal parent time is not a good idea. Of course, in some circumstances (such as when parents live in separate states) joint custody is not possible. However, under Nevada law, these circumstances should be the exception rather than the rule.

Joint custody, in addition to requiring a different custody schedule, also requires a different calculation for child support because each parent is required to pay child support to the other. Although it sounds kind of nuts, the formula is actually pretty easy to work out. First, each parent figures out his or her gross monthly income (i.e. before taxes are taken out) and multiples it by the appropriate percentage, depending on how many common children there are. Then, the lower amount is subtracted from the higher, and the parent with the higher payment pays the difference to the parent with the lower.

Divorce, breaking up, separating, etc. is always difficult for parents, but for kids it can be catastrophic. Finding a solution for child support and custody that is truly in the children’s best interests should thus be every parent’s goal.

Clifford Gravett is a local attorney with the Virgin Valley law firm of Bingham Snow & Caldwell located in Mesquite. The firm serves clients in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah (702-346-7300 / Is there a topic you’d like to see discussed in a future article? E-mail him at