(cite as Neb. Ct. R. §, unless otherwise noted)
Nebraska Supreme Court Child Support Goals and Rules (Rules 1- 3) amended May 17, 1995. Renumbered and codified as §§ 4-101 to 4-103, effective July 18, 2008.
Rules Relating to Statewide Child Support Referees (Rules 4 – 11) adopted May 20, 1992. Renumbered and codified as §§ 4-104 to 4-111, effective July 18, 2008.
The Supreme Court establishes the following goals for the rules relating to the establishment and enforcement of child support and paternity:
The expedited judicial process established in these rules is mandatory for all court matters related to the establishment and enforcement of child support and paternity. The following time standards apply in actions to establish support orders and, if necessary, paternity.
(A) In all cases needing support order establishment regardless of whether paternity has been established, action to establish support orders must be completed from the date of service to the time of disposition within the following timeframes:
Note: In cases for the purpose of paternity and support order establishment that use long-arm jurisdiction and disposition occurs within 12 months of service of process on the alleged father or noncustodial parent, the case may be counted as a success within the 6-month tier of the timeframe, regardless of when disposition occurs in the 12-month period following the service of process.
(A) Each clerk of the district court shall maintain records of payments for each child support order entered by the court in any pending case. Such records shall be created within 2 business days after the filing of the order in the clerk's office. The records shall show payments due, payments made, and the current arrearage. The records shall be updated within 1 business day after the day the payment is due and the day a payment is received. Interest may be calculated either each month or only when requested by the court or a party.
(B) The clerk of the district court shall issue summons within 1 business day after receiving a request for summons. Summons shall be delivered immediately for service unless the court has been requested to issue an ex parte order which may be served with the summons. The clerk shall deliver summons for service no later than 3 business days after issuance.
(C) The clerk of the district court shall determine whether a copy of the order has been furnished to the parties or their attorneys. If the clerk determines no copies have been furnished, the clerk shall mail copies to their last known mailing address by first class mail.
The Supreme Court finds that matters related to the establishment, modification, enforcement, and collection of child or spousal support and to paternity should be handled by the court in an expeditious manner so that parties may obtain needed orders and other action as quickly as possible. It is determined that the appointment of statewide child support referees is necessary to aid the district courts in meeting the case progression standards established by Supreme Court rule and federal law.
Each referee shall be appointed by order of the judges of the Supreme Court and shall be an attorney in good standing admitted to the practice of law in the State of Nebraska. The referee shall be sworn or affirmed, and the oath for judicial officer shall be administered. The referee may be removed at any time by the Supreme Court.
The referee shall, in all judicial districts in this state, hear matters pertaining to (1) the establishment, modification, enforcement, and collection of child or spousal support and (2) paternity. The referee shall have the power to administer all necessary oaths, supervise pretrial preparation pursuant to the rules of discovery, grant continuances and adjournments, recommend the appointment of counsel for indigent parties, and carry out any other duties permitted by law as directed by the district court. The functions performed by the referee under expedited processes shall at a minimum include (1) taking testimony and establishing a record, (2) evaluating evidence and making recommendations to establish and enforce orders, (3) accepting voluntary acknowledgment of support liability and stipulated agreements setting the amount of support and accepting voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, and (4) recommending default orders if absent parents fail to respond within the time specified by law. Priority shall be given to those judicial districts which have not been granted an exemption from the federal requirement to implement expedited processes.
Under the expedited processes established by this court rule:
(C) If a case involves complex issues requiring judicial resolution, a temporary support obligation shall be recommended under these expedited processes and the unresolved issues shall be referred to the district court.
A hearing before a child support referee shall be conducted in the same manner as a hearing before a district court. Testimony in such matters shall be preserved by tape recording or other prescribed measures and shall be in accordance with prescribed standards. Transcripts of all hearings shall be available upon request, and all costs of preparing the transcript shall be paid by the party for whom it is prepared.
Upon the hearing of a matter, the child support referee shall prepare in writing his or her findings and recommendations to the parties or their attorneys and submit a report to the district court containing findings of fact and recommendations and any and all exceptions.
In all cases referred by a child support referee, the parties shall have the right to take exception within 14 days to the findings and recommendations of the referee and to have a review by the district court before final disposition. Upon receiving the findings and recommendations, the district court shall conduct a review on the report of the referee and in the court's discretion may ratify or modify the recommendations of the referee and enter judgment based thereon, with the rights of appeal and to move for rehearing reserved to all parties.
Actions to establish or enforce support obligations shall be completed in accordance with state and federal law.
The main principle behind these guidelines is to recognize the equal duty of both parents to contribute to the support of their children in proportion to their respective net incomes.
The guidelines are intended to be used for both temporary and permanent support determinations.
The child support guidelines shall be applied as a rebuttable presumption. All orders for child support obligations shall be established in accordance with the provisions of the guidelines unless the court finds that one or both parties have produced sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption that the guidelines should be applied. All stipulated agreements for child support must be reviewed against the guidelines and if a deviation exists and is approved by the court, specific findings giving the reason for the deviation must be made. Findings must state the amount of support that would have been required under the guidelines and include a justification of why the order varies from the guidelines. Deviations must take into consideration the best interests of the child. In the event of a deviation, the reason for the deviation shall be contained in the findings portion of the decree or order, or worksheet 5 should be completed by the court and filed in the court file. Deviations from the guidelines are permissible under the following circumstances:
(C) if total net income exceeds $15,000 monthly, child support for amounts in excess of $15,000 monthly may be more but shall not be less than the amount which would be computed using the $15,000 monthly income unless other permissible deviations exist. To assist the court and not as a rebuttable presumption, the court may use the amount at $15,000 plus: 10 percent of net income above $15,000 for one, two, and three children; 12 percent of net income above $15,000 for four children; 13 percent of net income for five children; and 14 percent of net income for six children. For example, if the combined net parental income is $25,000 monthly and there is one child, the schedule amount at $15,000 is $2,201. Ten percent of the net income above $15,000 is $1,000 ($10,000 times .10). Therefore, the basic obligation is $3,201 ($2,201 plus $1,000). If the obligor’s share of the total net income is 85 percent, the obligor’s share of the support is $2,721 ($3,201 times .85).
Paragraph C amended Dec. 23, 1992; amended effective Jan. 1, 1996; amended effective July 1, 2007. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑203, effective July 18, 2008; § 4-203(C) amended July 13, 2011, effective September 1, 2011.
This is income of both parties derived from all sources, except all means-tested public assistance benefits which includes any earned income tax credit and payments received for children of prior marriages. This would include income that could be acquired by the parties through reasonable efforts. For instance, a court may consider as income the retained earnings in a closely-held corporation of which a party is a shareholder if the earnings appear excessive or inappropriate. All income should be annualized and divided by 12. For example, a party who receives a salary of $200 gross per week would have an annualized gross income of $10,400 ($200 times 52) and a monthly income of $866.67 (10,400 divided by 12). If the person is paid $200 every 2 weeks, his or her annualized gross income would be $5,200 ($200 times 26) and monthly income would be $433.33 (5,200 divided by 12).
The court may consider overtime wages in determining child support if the overtime is a regular part of the employment and the employee can actually expect to regularly earn a certain amount of income from working overtime. In determining whether working overtime is a regular part of employment, the court may consider such factors as the work history of the employee for the employer, the degree of control the employee has over work conditions, and the nature of the employer’s business or industry.
Depreciation calculated on the cost of ordinary and necessary assets may be allowed as a deduction from income of the business or farm to arrive at an annualized total monthly income. After an asset is shown to be ordinary and necessary, depreciation, if allowed by the trial court, shall be calculated by using the “straight-line” method, which allocates cost of an asset equally over its useful duration or life. An asset’s life should be determined with reference to the Class-lives and Recovery Periods Table created pursuant to 26 CFR § 1.167(a)-11. A party claiming depreciation shall have the burden of establishing entitlement to its allowance as a deduction.
Copies of at least 2 years' tax returns, financial statements, and current wage stubs should be furnished to the court and the other party to the action at least 3 days before any hearing requesting relief. Any party claiming an allowance of depreciation as a deduction from income shall furnish to the court and the other party copies of a minimum of 5 years’ tax returns at least 14 days before any hearing pertaining to the allowance of the deduction.
If applicable, earning capacity may be considered in lieu of a parent's actual, present income and may include factors such as work history, education, occupational skills, and job opportunities. Earning capacity is not limited to wage-earning capacity, but includes moneys available from all sources.
Paragraph D amended Dec. 23, 1992; amended effective Jan. 1, 1996; amended effective Sept. 1, 2002. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑204, effective July 18, 2008.
The following deductions should be annualized to arrive at monthly net income:
(C) Retirement. Individual contributions, in a minimum amount required by a mandatory retirement plan. Where no mandatory retirement plan exists, a deduction shall be allowed for a continuation of actual voluntary retirement contributions not to exceed 4 percent of the gross income from employment or 4 percent from the net income from self-employment.
(E) Other Children. Subject to § 4-220, credit may be given for biological or adopted children for whom the obligor provides regular support.
Paragraph E amended effective Jan. 1, 1996; amended effective Sept. 1, 2002; amended effective July 1, 2007. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑205, effective July 18, 2008.
The combined monthly net income of both parties from line 4 of worksheet 1 is compared to table 1. For example, if the combined monthly net income was $1,500 and there were three children, we would find $530 as the child support from table 1 (read across the table from $1,500 to the "Three Children" column to find $530).
Paragraph F amended effective Jan. 1, 1996; amended Nov. 26, 2003, effective Jan. 1, 2004. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑206, effective July 18, 2008.
This is the child support amount from line 7, worksheet 1 (or line 9 if applicable), multiplied by the percentage contribution of each parent from line 6, worksheet 1. In our example, if F had a monthly net income of $1,000 and M had a monthly income of $500, each parent's monthly share would be $355.10 for F (.67 times $530) and $174.90 for M (.33 times $530). F would be required to pay M $355.10 per month in the event M was awarded custody of the children.
Paragraph G amended effective Jan. 1, 1996; amended Nov. 26, 2003, effective Jan. 1, 2004; amended effective July 1, 2007. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑207, effective July 18, 2008.
If there is more than one child, the court's order should specify the amount of child support due for the children, with the amount recalculated and reduced as the obligation to support terminates for each child. The amount due for each possibility should be calculated separately from table 1. In our example, if M was awarded custody of the children, F would be required to pay $355.10 (.67 times $530) when there are three children, $328.30 (.67 times $490) when there are two children, and $258.62 (.67 times $386) when there is one child. See worksheet 4. The order should direct that child support continue only until each child reaches majority under Nebraska law, becomes emancipated, becomes self-supporting, marries, or dies, or until further order of the court.
Paragraph H amended Dec. 23, 1992; amended effective Jan. 1, 1996; amended Nov. 26, 2003, effective Jan. 1, 2004. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑208, effective July 18, 2008.
It is recommended that even in very low income cases, a minimum support of $50, or 10 percent of the obligor’s net income, whichever is greater, per month be set. This will help to maintain information on such obligor, such as his or her address, employment, etc., and, hopefully, encourage such person to understand the necessity, duty, and importance of supporting his or her children.
Paragraph I amended Dec. 23, 1992; amended effective Sept. 1, 2002. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑209, effective July 18, 2008.
Visitation or parenting time adjustments or direct cost sharing should be specified in the support order. If child support is not calculated under § 4-212, an adjustment in child support may be made at the discretion of the court when visitation or parenting time substantially exceeds alternating weekends and holidays and 28 days or more in any 90-day period. During visitation or parenting time periods of 28 days or more in any 90-day period, support payments may be reduced by up to 80 percent. The amount of any reduction for extended parenting time shall be specified in the court’s order and shall be presumed to apply to the months designated in the order. Any documented substantial and reasonable long-distance transportation costs directly associated with visitation or parenting time may be considered by the court and, if appropriate, allowed as a deviation from the guidelines.
Paragraph J amended effective Jan. 1, 1996; amended effective Sept. 1, 2002; amended effective July 1, 2007. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑210, effective July 18, 2008.
When a specific provision for joint physical custody is ordered and each party’s parenting time exceeds 142 days per year, it is a rebuttable presumption that support shall be calculated using worksheet 3. When a specific provision for joint physical custody is ordered and one party’s parenting time is 109 to 142 days per year, the use of worksheet 3 to calculate support is at the discretion of the court. If child support is determined under this paragraph, all reasonable and necessary direct expenditures made solely for the child(ren) such as clothing and extracurricular activities shall be allocated between the parents, but shall not exceed the proportion of the obligor’s parental contributions (worksheet 1, line 6). For purposes of these guidelines, a “day” shall be generally defined as including an overnight period.
Paragraph L amended effective July 1, 2007. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑212, effective July 18, 2008; § 4-212 amended July 13, 2011, effective September 1, 2011.
These guidelines intend that spousal support be determined from income available to the parties after child support has been established.
Childcare expenses are not specifically computed into the guidelines amount and are to be considered independently of any amount computed by use of these guidelines. Care expenses for the child for whom the support is being set, which 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, shall be allocated to the obligor parent as determined by the court, but shall not exceed the proportion of the obligor’s parental contribution (worksheet 1, line 6) and shall be added to the basic support obligation computed under these guidelines. The value of the federal income tax credit for child care shall be subtracted from actual costs to arrive at a figure for net childcare expenses. The Court may impute the value of the federal childcare tax credit using worksheet 6 if the parent incurring the childcare expense has monthly gross income above $2,100 for one child; $2,500 for two children; $2,600 for three children; $2,700 for four children; $2,800 for five children; and $2,900 for six children. The value shall be imputed at 25 percent of the childcare expense, not to exceed $62.50 per month for one child and $125 per month for two or more children.
Paragraph N amended effective Jan. 1, 1996; amended effective Sept. 1, 2002; amended effective July 1, 2007. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑214, effective July 18, 2008.
As required by Neb. Rev. Stat. § 42-369(2), the child support order shall address how the parents will provide for the child(ren)’s health care needs through health insurance as well as the nonreimbursed reasonable and necessary child(ren)’s health care costs that are not included in table 1 that are provided for in § 4-215(B).
(A) Health Insurance. The increased cost to the parent for health insurance for the child(ren) of the parent shall be prorated between the parents. When worksheet 1 is used, it shall be added to the monthly support from line 7, then prorated between the parents to arrive at each party’s share of monthly support on line 10 of worksheet 1. The parent requesting an adjustment for health insurance premiums must submit proof of the cost for health insurance coverage of the child(ren). The parent paying the premium receives a credit against his or her share of the monthly support. If not otherwise specified in the support order, “health insurance” includes coverage for medical, dental, orthodontic, optometric, substance abuse, and mental health treatment.
(B) Health Care. Children’s health care expenses are specifically included in the guidelines amount of up to $480 per child per year. Children's health care needs are to be met by requiring either parent to provide health insurance as required by state law. All nonreimbursed reasonable and necessary children's health care costs in excess of $480 per child per year shall be allocated to the obligor parent as determined by the court, but shall not exceed the proportion of the obligor’s parental contribution (worksheet 1, line 6). If not otherwise specified in the support order, “health care costs” includes coverage for medical, dental, orthodontic, optometric, substance abuse, and mental health treatment.
(i) All child support orders in the Title IV-D program must address how the parties will provide for the child(ren)’s health care needs through health care coverage and/or through cash medical support. Cash medical support or the cost of private health insurance is considered reasonable in cost if the cost to the party responsible for providing medical support for the child(ren) does not exceed 3 percent of his or her gross income. In applying the 3-percent standard, the cost is the cost of adding the child(ren) to existing health care coverage or the difference between self-only and family health care coverage. Cash medical support payment shall not be ordered if, at the time that the order is issued or modified, the responsible party’s income is, or such expense would reduce the responsible party’s net income, below the basic subsistence limitation provided in § 4-218. If a court orders a parent to pay cash medical support, it shall be in lieu of, and not in addition to, requiring the parent to also pay reimbursement for reasonable and necessary children's health care costs as set forth in § 4-215(B).
(ii) The amount of cash medical support ordered in the case shall be prorated between the parents. When worksheet 1 is used, it shall be added to the monthly support from line 7, then prorated between the parents to arrive at each party’s share of monthly support on line 10 of worksheet 1. The parent paying the cash medical support receives a credit against his or her share of the monthly support.
Paragraph O amended effective Jan. 1, 1996; amended effective Sept. 1, 2002; amended Nov. 26, 2003, effective Jan. 1, 2004; amended effective July 1, 2007. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑215, effective July 18, 2008; § 4-215 amended Sept. 16, 2009; § 4-215(C) adopted Sept. 16, 2009, effective Sept. 30, 2009; § 4-215 (all sections) amended July 13, 2011, effective September 1, 2011.
The State Court Administrator shall review the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines not less than every 4 years, beginning in October 1993, and recommend revisions, if any, to the Nebraska Supreme Court. In addition, the Supreme Court will review reports submitted to it by the Child Support Advisory Commission.
Paragraph P amended effective Jan. 1, 1996; amended effective Sept. 1, 2002; amended effective July 1, 2007. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑216, effective July 18, 2008.
Application of the child support guidelines which would result in a variation by 10 percent or more, but not less than $25, upward or downward, of the current child support obligation, child care obligation, or health care obligation, due to financial circumstances which have lasted 3 months and can reasonably be expected to last for an additional 6 months, establishes a rebuttable presumption of a material change of circumstances.
Paragraph Q amended effective Jan. 1, 1996; amended effective Sept. 1, 2002. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑217, effective July 18, 2008.
A parent's support, child care, and health care obligation shall not reduce his or her net income below the minimum of $973 net monthly for one person, or the poverty guidelines updated annually in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under authority of 42 U.S.C. § 9902(2), except minimum support may be ordered as defined in § 4-209.
Paragraph R (previously Paragraph Q) adopted Dec. 23, 1992; amended effective Jan. 1, 1996; amended September 25, 1996; amended March 26, 1997; amended March 18, 1998; amended April 21, 1999; amended March 15, 2000; amended April 18, 2001; amended effective Sept. 1, 2002; amended February 26, 2003; amended March 10, 2004; amended March 9, 2005; amended March 1, 2006; amended February 27, 2008. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑218, effective July 18, 2008; amended February 11, 2009; amended February 9, 2011; amended February 2, 2012; amended February 13, 2013; amended February 12, 2014.
Under no circumstances shall there be an increase in support due from the obligor solely because of an increase in the income of the obligee.
Paragraph S effective Sept. 1, 2002. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑219, effective July 18, 2008.
An obligor shall not be allowed a reduction in an existing support order solely because of the birth, adoption, or acknowledgment of subsequent children of the obligor; however, a duty to provide regular support for subsequent children may be raised as a defense to an action for an upward modification of such existing support order.
Paragraph T effective Sept. 1, 2002. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑220, effective July 18, 2008.
Final child support should be rounded to the nearest dollar in all instances.
§ 4-221 adopted July 13, 2011, effective September 1, 2011.
If the child is residing with a third party, the court shall order each of the parents to pay to the third party their respective amounts of child support as determined by the worksheet.
§ 4-222 adopted July 13, 2011, effective September 1, 2011.
A petition for grandparent visitation pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-1803 shall be so captioned and shall contain the information required by statute. In other respects, the form of the petition and the form of all subsequent pleadings shall comply with the Nebraska Rules of Pleading in Civil Actions.
Adopted June 25, 1986; amended December 11, 2002. Renumbered and codified as § 4‑301, effective July 18, 2008.
Commencing January 1, 2008, an attorney to be appointed by the courts as a guardian ad litem for a juvenile in a proceeding brought under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-247(3)(a) of the Nebraska Juvenile Code shall have completed six (6) hours of specialized training provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts Judicial Branch Education Division (see Appendix A). Thereafter, in order to maintain eligibility to be appointed and to serve as a guardian ad litem, an attorney shall complete three (3) hours of specialized training per year as provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts Judicial Branch Education Division. Courts shall appoint attorneys trained under this rule in all § 43-247(3)(a) cases when available; provided, however, that if the judge determines that an attorney with the training required herein is unavailable within the county, he or she may appoint an attorney without such training and the attorney must agree to complete the six-hour on-line training within thirty (30) days of the appointment.
Adopted June 28, 2006; amended April 11, 2007, effective January 1, 2008. Renumbered and codified as § 4-401, effective July 18, 2008. § 4-401 amended June 17, 2014.
The Nebraska Supreme Court, through the Administrative Office of the Courts Judicial Branch Education Division, shall develop the curriculum for the initial guardian ad litem education and provide specialized on-line training for guardians ad litem at s nominal cost. The Administrative Office of the Courts may approve the rendition of an in-the-classroom version of the initial six-hour curriculum it has developed in the event an outside vendor applies to the Administrative Office of the Courts to teach such a version of the curriculum.
The Supreme Court's Attorney Services Division shall maintain a list of attorneys who are current in their required guardian ad litem training and shall make such list available to all judges with juvenile court jurisdiction.
In addition to offering the initial six-hour course, the Administrative Office of the Courts Judicial Branch Education Division shall determine the course work required of the attorney subsequent to the completion of the initial course. Courses may be made available to satisfy the annual three-hour requirement through the Judicial Branch Education Division, offered at a nominal fee and hosted on its Web site. In addition, the Attorney Services Division may approve courses for the annual three-hour requirement that are offered by outside vendors if the courses meet the curriculum requirements and standards created by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Specialized training sessions shall provide training, information, and education regarding the role, duties, and responsibilities of a guardian ad litem, which shall include, but not be limited to, the following areas:
Appendix A amended June 17, 2014.