In Nebraska, once a child support order is entered, it remains in effect until the minor child reaches the age of majority (19 in Nebraska), dies, remarries, becomes emancipated, or until further order of the court. “Until further order of the court” means that child support orders are modifiable, that is, they can be changed.
The Nebraska Child Support Guidelines sets forth rules as to when the court can modify child support. First, the parent must show to the court that there has been a material change in circumstances that affects the child support calculation. This will usually be a change in income of either parent. According to the Guidelines, if there is a change in either (or both) parents’ income, and that change would result in a child support obligation that is either 10% higher or lower than the current order, a modification may be warranted. Note, however, that while a 10% change is the threshold, the difference between what is currently ordered and what the new calculation shows must be $25 or more.
Second, the parent seeking the modification must show that this material change has lasted three months and can reasonably be expected to last for an additional six months. Courts are reluctant to modify child support unless the change in income is reasonably expected to last. This prevents parents from repeatedly seeking modifications due to fluctuations in income.
So, what would you need in order to show the court that there has been a material change? For purposes of child support, all sources of income are included in determining each parent’s gross monthly income. Proof of income sources (e.g., pay stubs, tax returns, W-2s) can prove that a parent’s income has changed since the time the current support order was entered.
If you believe there has been a material change that would affect your child support calculation (by a 10% difference, upward or downward), that change has lasted three months, and it can be reasonably expected to last an additional six months, here’s what you can do:
- Send a request for review of your child support order to the Review and Modification Unit of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
The Review and Modification Unit will review the income of both parents and calculate a support amount. If the new amount constitutes a material change, the Unit will refer your case to your county’s Child Support Services office where the county or authorized attorney will conduct a further review and determine whether to file a modification on your behalf.
- Contact an attorney experienced in family law about filing a Complaint to Modify.
If you meet the requirements for modifying your child support, it is imperative you that don’t delay contacting an attorney. Courts can apply modifications retroactively to the month after the date you file. Your family law attorney can advocate for either a retroactive or prospective modified child support order.