from a district court divorce decree and determination of
child support. Eighth Judicial District Court, Family Court
Division, Clark County; Charles J. Hoskin, Judge.
Law Group and Jack W. Fleeman, Henderson, for Appellant.
Christopher P. Burke, Las Vegas, for Respondent.
Carman Price and Michael P. Carman, Henderson, for Amicus
Curiae State Bar of Nevada, Family Law Section.
opinion, we address a matter of first impression: how to
interpret and apply Nevada's child support statutes where
both parents share joint physical custody of one child but
one parent has primary physical custody of the other child.
We provide guidance on how to calculate child support in this
type of custody arrangement. We further stress the importance
of the district court's duty to make sufficient findings
of fact when deviating from the statutory formula for child
Leslie Miller and respondent Brett Miller are the parents of
two minor children. They divorced in 2015 and, through family
mediation, reached an agreement on almost all aspects of the
divorce, including custody of the children. They agreed to
share joint physical custody of one of their children, but
Leslie has primary physical custody of the other child
because that child lives with Leslie and stays with Brett
every other weekend. The parents were unable, however, to
reach an agreement on child support. The district court
determined that Brett was to pay Leslie $345 in monthly child
support. Leslie filed a motion for reconsideration, to amend
the judgment, and for findings of fact and conclusions of law
on the child support calculation, arguing that there was no
controlling Nevada authority governing a split custody
situation like theirs, the district court's $345 award
fell below the statutory guidelines, and the award was
unreasonable given the parties' incomes and
circumstances. Additionally, at the hearing on Leslie's
motion, Leslie requested the district court to explain how it
arrived at the amount of $345, but the district court
provided no calculations.
district court denied Leslie's motion, finding that its
$345 award was in the children's best interests. The
court explained that it had "run the numbers using the
statutory percentages of 18% for one child and 25% for two
children and given the comparative incomes, the deviation
factors permitted under NRS 125B.080(9), and all
circumstances, the $345 per month in child support is the
appropriate figure." Leslie brings this appeal
challenging the district court's child support award.
appeal, Leslie argues that the district court abused its
discretion by not providing specific findings of fact to
explain the deviation from the amount of child support owed
under the statutory guideline. Leslie further argues that the
amount of child support is unreasonable under the child
support guidelines and based on the parties' custody
arrangement and respective incomes. Brett argues that there
is no statute that provides a guideline for determining child
support in a custody situation like the Millers', so the
district court could not have abused its discretion. The
parties, the district court, and amicus curiae, the State Bar
of Nevada Family Law Section (FLS), have asked this court to
determine the appropriate formula for the calculation of
child support in this type of situation. The parties and FLS
provide formulas based on their varying interpretations of
NRS 125B.070, the statute that provides the baseline
percentages of income for determining child support.
not previously considered the application of NRS 125B.070 to
a split custody scenario where both parents share joint
physical custody of one child and one parent has primary
physical custody of another child. However, we are not
without statutory guidance and jurisprudence. Therefore, in
this opinion, we analyze Nevada's statutory child support
framework and caselaw. Next, we consider the district
court's determination of the child support award in this
case and the parties' and FLS's interpretations of
NRS 125B.070. Finally, we apply the appropriate formula to
the Millers' custody arrangement to clarify the steps
district courts must take when determining the appropriate
child support amount.
child support framework
of statutory construction, including the meaning and scope of
a statute, are questions of law, which [we] review[ ] de
novo." City of Reno v. Reno Gazette-Journal,
119 Nev. 55, 58, 63 P.3d 1147, 1148 (2003). NRS 125B.020U)
states that "[t]he parents of a child . . . have a duty
to provide the child necessary maintenance, health care,
education and support." This duty is defined in NRS
125B.070, which is the starting point for calculating child
support. In NRS 125B.070, the Legislature set forth a formula
for determining the "obligation for support, "
which is a flat rate percentage of a parent's gross
monthly income that each parent owes for the support of their
children based on the number of children they have.
125B.070(1)(b) explains the "obligation for
support" as follows:
"Obligation for support" means the sum certain
dollar amount determined according to the ...