The new year brought new changes to the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines. If you currently pay or receive child support in Nebraska, a re-calculation under the new rules could drastically change the amount you pay or receive, respectively.

So, what changed?

Monthly Support

The child support tables (found here) have been amended. The new tables affect each parent’s monthly share, and application of the new tables will almost certainly lower the amount of child support owed.

Total Monthly Income

The Nebraska Child Support Guidelines directs how we determine a parent’s “total monthly income” for child support purposes. Courts can consider a parent’s earning capacity rather than his or her actual income under certain circumstances. The amended rule expands the criteria courts must consider when there is an earning capacity argument, including the following factors: the parent’s residence, employment and earnings history, job skills, educational attainment, literacy, age, health, and employment barriers, including criminal record, record of seeking work, prevailing local earning levels, and availability of employment.

Additionally, the amended rule clarifies that a parent’s incarceration is not a voluntary reduction in income or underemployment in establishing or modifying child support. Voluntary reductions in income (e.g., choosing to work at a lower-paying job) can be grounds to defend against a reduction in child support. Involuntary reductions in income, however, are generally not.

Total Combined Income Increase

The income range for total combined net income of both parents has increased from $15,000 to $20,000. If you and your co-parent have a combined net income that is in excess of $20,000, the new guidelines direct how much additional child support could be ordered above and beyond what the basic calculation shows.

If you and your co-parent have a child support calculation with a net income of $15,000 – $19,999 and an additional support calculation worksheet was used – this new change will impact the amount of child support due.  

Minimum Support

This rule has been amended to provide that, in cases except for disability or incarceration, a minimum monthly support of $50 or 10% of the payor’s net income, whichever is greater, per month should be set. Previously, there was no carve-out for cases involving disability or incarceration.

Uninsured Medical Expenses

Under the prior rules, the first $480 of uninsured medical expenses was taken into account in the child support calculation. Now, that amount has been reduced to $250. If your child support order includes language regarding a threshold amount of $480 being satisfied before you and your co-parent share in your children’s uninsured medical expenses, a modification of child support could lower that amount to $250.

Cash Medical Support

When cash medical support is ordered, the new rules allow for that amount to be capped at 5% of the payor’s gross monthly income. Previously, the amount was capped at 3%.

How Do These Changes Affect Me?

Bottom line:  Changes to the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines have resulted in decreased child support payments.  Additionally, the changes to the Guidelines are automatic grounds for modifying child support orders.

If you pay child support, schedule an initial consultation with a Koenig|Dunne attorney to find out if your child support payment can be reduced.  If you receive child support, it’s possible your co-parent may ask to modify his or her child support payment based on these new rules.   Schedule a consultation with your Koenig|Dunne attorney to see how these new rules may impact how much you will pay or receive under the new Guidelines. 

Lindsay Belmont

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