In Nebraska, child support payments are typically set according to the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines. [i]Under the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines,[ii] the goal of child support is to ensure that each parent has an equal duty to contribute to the support of their child(ren) in proportion to their incomes. The final amount of child support that a parent will pay in Nebraska will be based on numerous factors, including (but not necessarily limited to), the following factors:
- The child custody order (sole physical custody or joint physical custody);
- The amount of overnights (when joint physical custody is ordered);
- The income of both parents from all sources;
- The health insurance costs to cover the child;
- The parent’s own health insurance costs;
- How many children are supported;
- How tax exemptions and child tax credits are divided; and
- How many other children are already being supported under other court orders.
Each child support case in Nebraska is different and the final child support amount that is awarded by the Court can be impacted by a multitude of factors that are unique to your case. These factors are too numerous and sometimes too complex to explain in a general article on Nebraska child support law. It is important that you seek legal advice from an experienced Nebraska child support attorney to better understand how the Nebraska child support guidelines and Nebraska case law may apply you your case.
To set up an initial consultation with the Omaha, Nebraska child support attorneys at Goosmann Law Firm, contact the local Goosmann Law Firm office at (855) 909-4442 or please click the following link: https://www.goosmannlaw.com/contact-us/ to set up an initial consultation.
Setting Child Support on a Temporary or Permanent Basis
Child support can be set both on a temporary and permanent basis. It can also be retroactively assessed depending on the unique circumstances of your case. The amount to be paid is generally based on the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines unless there is a reason for a deviation from the child support guidelines. In some circumstances, the State of Nebraska may provide limited legal services to a parent to establish paternity and to obtain a child support order.[iii] However, for most people, child support will be on issue that is addressed in the larger child custody or divorce case.
There are several different worksheets provided by the Nebraska Supreme Court that could be used when calculating child support depending on the specific custody arrangement being ordered or unique circumstances of a particular case.
For shared parenting (or joint physical custody), a worksheet 3 is typically used when a parent exceeds 142 overnights per year.[iv] This often results in lower child support, but those seeking joint physical custody should be aware that they will also have to pay additional money for the “reasonable and necessary direct expenses”. This could include, but is not limited to, such things like clothing, shoes, and other school expenses.
Determining a parent’s “Income” under the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines
The Nebraska Supreme Court has a flexible, fact-specific review of a case to determine what a parent’s income is for calculating child support.[v]
Under the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines, the total monthly income used to determine child support is “income that is received from all sources”. There are some limited exceptions to this rule for those low-income parents receiving means-tested public assistance/benefits.
The court can also determine income based on a person’s “earning capacity” and not their actual income. A person’s earning capacity must be an amount that a party can obtain through reasonable efforts.[vi] An earning capacity is often used by a court when the parent can choose to work and earn and income but chooses not to earn an income that is at their potential (or that parent voluntarily chooses to earn less income than they otherwise could make). In other words, the income for the purposes of calculating child support in Nebraska is not always the same as taxable income that shows up on your tax return or paycheck.
The court can also consider overtime as a part of the income used to calculate child support if the overtime is a regular part of the parent’s employment, and the parent can actually expect to regularly earn a certain amount of income from working overtime. The court will look at the parent’s work history, the degree of control the parent has over their work conditions, and the nature of the employer's business or industry.
Child support can also include "in-kind" benefits to determine a party's income. “In-kind” benefits can include tax exempt income, such as use of a company vehicle, military housing benefits and subsistence allowances, free food and drink provided by employers, and rent or housing allowances provided by employers.[vii]
Medical and Daycare/Childcare expenses
Out of pocket medical expenses is an additional expense outside of the regular child support payment. After the custodial parent pays $250 per child per year in unreimbursed medical expenses, any remaining out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance will be split in proportion to the percentages of income calculated in the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet.[viii]
For childcare, each parent will pay a proportion of childcare expenses that are due to employment of either parent or to allow the parent to obtain training or education necessary to obtain a job or enhance earning potential. If the parent is receiving a childcare tax credit, the value of the tax credit can be factored when determining the childcare expenses owed.[ix]
Child Support for Other Children or Subsequent Born Children
The Nebraska Child Support Guidelines allow a parent paying child support for other children to receive a credit for the child support they already pay for other biological or adopted children. However, in circumstances where a new child is born and that parent is already paying child support for other children, a parent cannot use that subsequent newborn child to reduce their child support in an existing child support order based solely because of the birth, adoption, or acknowledgment of subsequent child(ren). In those situations, the new child can technically only beraised as a defense to an increase of a child support that was previously ordered.[x]
Child Support Abatement in Nebraska
Sometimes, a Court in Nebraska will order that child support is “abated”. What this means is that during periods of extended parenting time for a non-custodial parent (the parent who does not have physical custody of the child), the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines will allow for child support to be reduced or eliminated when the children are in the care of the non-custodial parent. This is not automatic on every custody case, and typically is only ordered when a non-custodial parent has extended summer visitation (such as joint physical custody or when the noncustodial parent has the children solely in their care for the summer). [xi] In these circumstances, a court will sometimes order an “abatement” to child support to fix some financial inequities that occur when the parenting time that is awarded to the non-custodial parent does not fit neatly within the typical case that the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines are designed to cover. Again, child support abatements in Nebraska are only permissible and are not required to be ordered by the court.
Goosmann Law – Omaha Child Support Attorneys – Nebraska Child Support Lawyers
If you are a parent seeking to establish child support or are needing to modify an existing child support order, the Omaha, Nebraska Family Law Lawyers at Goosmann Law are available to discuss the specific facts about your situation and can provide an initial case assessment during an initial consultation. You can schedule a consultation by contacting your local Goosmann Office at (855) 909-4442 or by filling out the contact form on our website https://www.goosmannlaw.com/contact-us/. Please do not provide any confidential or privileged information on the form.
Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided herein is for general informational purposes only and shall not be construed as legal advice or in any way creating an attorney-client relationship with the firm.
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[i] Dooling v. Dooling, 303 Neb. 494, 930 N.W.2d 481 (2019)
[ii] Nebraska Child Support Guidelines - https://supremecourt.nebraska.gov/supreme-court-rules/chapter-4-children-families/article-2-child-support-guidelines
[iii]Apply for Child Support in Nebraska - https://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Child-Support-Apply.aspx
[iv] Nebraska Child Support Guidelines §4-212
[v] Marshall v. Marshall, 298 Neb. 1, 902 N.W.2d 223 (2017).
[vi] Hotz v. Hotz, 301 Neb. 102, 917 N.W.2d 467 (2018)
[vii] See, Workman v. Workman, 262 Neb. 373, 632 N.W.2d 286 (2001); State on behalf of Hopkins v. Batt, 253 Neb. 852, 573 N.W.2d 425 (1998) (military housing benefit and subsistence allowance included as income), overruled on other grounds, State on behalf of Miah S. v. Ian K., 306 Neb. 372, 945 N.W.2d 178 (2020); Baratta v. Baratta, 245 Neb. 103, 511 N.W.2d 104 (1994) (free food and rent provided by employers, who were also petitioner's parents, included as income); Morrill County v. Darsaklis, 7 Neb. App. 489, 584 N.W.2d 36 (1998) (use of home on farm included as income); Robbins v. Robbins, 3 Neb. App. 953, 536 N.W.2d 77 (1995) (value of food and drink provided by employer included in income), overruled on other grounds, Smeal Fire Apparatus Co. v. Kreikemeier, 279 Neb. 661, 782 N.W.2d 848 (2010), disapproved on other grounds, Hossaini v. Vaelizadeh, 283 Neb. 369, 808 N.W.2d 867 (2012)
[viii] Nebraska Child Support Guidelines §4-215
[ix] Nebraska Child Support Guidelines §4-214
[x] Nebraska Child Support Guidelines §4-220, See also Fetherkile v. Fetherkile, 299 Neb. 76, 95, 907 N.W.2d 275, 292 (2018).
[xi] Nebraska Child Support Guidelines §4-210