Family Law Specialty Tools
By Marshal S. Willick, Esq.
Family law gets increasingly technical and complicated, and tools have been developed to address it.
In 2017, the Nevada Legislature appointed a commission of mostly lawyers, judges, and bureaucrats to start a new review. There is no formal report, but the minutes and meeting recordings can be reviewed at https://dwss.nv.gov/Support/cs_meeting_minutes/.
The regulations adopted by the commission, enacted as part of the Nevada Administrative Code, and went into effect on February 1, 2020, and will apparently entirely replace the Nevada child support statutes set out in NRS 125.070 to 125B.080. See https://www.leg.state.nv.us/NAC/NAC-425.html.
The math involved in the new calculations is more complicated than in the prior child support statutes. Instead of the simple percentages-per-child with statutory presumptive maximums, the new regulations require a varying percentage of gross monthly income on the first $6,000 of income, depending on the number of children, a lower percentage on the next $4,000, and a still- lower percentage for income exceeding $10,000 per month.
On the low end of incomes, instead of a presumptive $100 per month, the regulations adopt reference to the federal poverty tables, which change annually.
Where there is joint custody of one or more children, the existing “offset” method is used. Where there is a mix of primary custody and joint custody, each parent’s obligation to the other is separately calculated and then offset.
A free dynamic estimator under the new regulations is posted on the main landing page of www.willicklawgroup.com under the heading “New Child Support Regulations Interactive Graph: Click here to learn more.” It allows a quick view of support across a range of numbers of children and income levels in a couple of seconds and takes into account the poverty-level alterations for low income cases.
The full program, which is in question-and-answer format, takes into account split custody situations and calculations of the offsets, including the poverty guidelines on the low end and the math for medical and child care costs. It is posted at https://scalc.mlawapp.com, has been added to the landing page for the Willick Law Group and QDRO Masters web sites, and is an option for anyone logging into the home page of MLAW located at https://mlawapp.com/. Results can be printed and taken to court.
The program is available on-line to anyone, from any device, and is in all Nevada self-help centers, law libraries, and the courtrooms in Clark County. So, even pro se litigants can quickly and correctly calculate support under the new regulations.
The district attorney has also distributed a calculator under the new regs, which calculates interest for primary and split custody, but not child care or medical expenses. It is posted at https://nvchildsupportguidelinescalculator.azurewebsites.net/getobligation.aspx.
There are some other calculators popping up on-line. It does not appear that all of them do all calculations required by the current regulations.
In Malmquist v. Malmquist, 106 Nev. 231, 792 P.2d 372 (1990), the Supreme Court of Nevada set forth a series of detailed mathematical formulas for determining the community property interest in a separate property residence, or vice versa.
The calculations required to actually apportion the equity between separate property and community property require a page of algebra to calculate the amount by which community property mortgage payments reduced the mortgage principal, which is divided by the original contract purchase price of residence. That fraction is multiplied by the total appreciation to yield the final community property share in the appreciation. The unpaid mortgage balance is essentially credited between community and separate property according to a time rule, depending on the total number of payments made rather than the principal actually paid down in each mortgage payment.
The calculator makes this process a matter of simply inputting the base numbers.
In prior years, there was a “Notable Domestic Relations Cases” list; it is posted at https://willicklawgroup.com/published-works/. It was made searchable and greatly expanded in MLAW Case Summaries, which allows use of any keyword or series of nested keywords to bring up both the summary and the full text of every Nevada family law case decided since 1864, the briefs leading to the major modern cases, plus all available persuasive authority (NFLR articles, other law review articles, CLE materials, legal notes, etc.) relating to Nevada family law, including often-cited caselaw from outside Nevada used here and every case cited in the Nevada Family Law Practice Manual.
The database is constantly updated and expanded, and includes all NRCP, EDCR, and WDCR rule sets, and relevant NRS sections. All documents can be searched, cut, pasted, or printed.
The program was intended to be a “leveling the playing field” tool; with it, any family law practitioner has the same information available to a family law specialist with decades of building a dedicated library.
Interest and penalties calculator
In use since 1991, and now web-based, the MLAW Judgment and Interest Calculator Program correctly calculates interest on Nevada judgments of any kind and penalties for child support arrearages, for any lump sum, periodic payments, or combination of sums due and unpaid. It automatically updates and accounts for all historical and future statutory interest rates (which change every six months).
Correct calculation of interest can dramatically increase the amount of a judgment. Under NRS 99.040(1), the calculation and recovery of interest is required as a matter of right, is not discretionary, and only requires determination of the rate of interest, the time it commences, and the amount to which interest applies.
Changes in Nevada law made doing interest calculations by hand virtually impossible. Additionally, generic computer packages are generally unable to deal with all the complexities of correctly calculating interest under the Nevada statutes and case law, including freezing some interest rates while adjusting others and the “looping” calculations that are required to comply with Nevada law. Generic software also does not handle Nevada’s semi-annually adjusted interest rate very well, or properly abide by Nevada case law (one frequent error is to apply payments to interest before principal).
Details about all four programs are posted at https://www.willicklawgroup.com/mlawresources/.
About the author:
Marshal S. Willick, Esq. is the Principal of the Willick Law Group, an A/V-rated Las Vegas family law firm, and QDROMasters, its pension order drafting division. He can be reached at 3591 East Bonanza Rd., Ste. 200, Las Vegas, NV 89110-2198. Phone: (702) 438-4100; fax: (702) 438-5311.
This article was originally published in the “Technology in Practice” issue (March 2020) of Communiqué, the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association.
© 2020 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.