Support and Alimony

The Nebraska Supreme Court has instituted Child Support Guidelines which the District Courts across Nebraska are required to follow.  The earnings of both parents from all sources are considered when awarding child support.  If present earnings of a parent are not reflective of that parent’s earning capacity, the court will look at the earnings history of the parent and their education and training in determining what is appropriate.  Deviation from the Guidelines may take place by agreement of the parties or where the court finds that application of the Guidelines would be unjust.  Child support is payable only until a child reaches the age of 19 years.  The determination of child support in Nebraska can be somewhat complex because of the calculations necessary to determine net income from all sources.  There are many factors that must be taken into account in creating calculations including, but not limited to use of dependency exemptions, cost of health insurance premiums for the children’s health insurance, income from a second job or overtime, depreciation claimed on business assets by a self-employed spouse (such as a farmer), receipt of non-taxable income or disability benefits, student loan payments, support owed for other children, necessary business expenses and cost of children’s extra-curricular activities or parochial schooling.  In addition, the type of custody arrangement will also determine the amount of child support payable by one parent to the other.  If any of your children have special education or medical needs, make sure we are aware of such needs in order to adequately protect their rights and your financial position. All child support payments are to be paid through the Nebraska Child Support Payment Center.  Direct payments by one party to the other are strongly discouraged and can result in significant misunderstandings or improper credit to the payor parent.  Unless otherwise agreed, Nebraska law requires income withholding by an employer of a payor spouse.  The Nebraska Child Support Payment Center can assist you with automatic deductions from a checking account to assist in regular payments of support obligations. Judgments for child support become liens against real estate owned by the payor parent and this will need to be dealt with in the event real estate is being sold or refinanced following the divorce.

Clients frequently ask whether a court will require one or both parties to contribute toward college education.  There is no statute or case in Nebraska which confers jurisdiction on a trial court to order one or both parties to contribute toward post-secondary or college education or training.  If you and your spouse can agree on the necessity for educating children after high school and the extent of your commitment in that regard, we can incorporate such an agreement within the terms of the Property Settlement Agreement and make it enforceable.  Such an agreement necessarily includes a certain degree of trust on the part of both parents not to mention a significant financial obligation. 

The courts in Nebraska may award alimony payable by one spouse to the other.  The amount and duration of alimony depends upon the duration of the marriage, ages of the parties, economic circumstances of the parties, earning capacities of the parties, contributions of each to the marriage, interruption of careers for children and several other factors. There is no formula for determining what is appropriate alimony and much will depend upon the factors just mentioned as well as the judge who is deciding the case.  Awards of alimony in similar cases vary widely across the State of Nebraska.    Alimony has traditionally been deductible to the payor spouse and declarable as income to the recipient spouse.  That all changed with the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.  Beginning in 2019, alimony will no longer be deductible to the payor spouse and will no longer be declarable as income from the spouse receiving it.  Unless agreed otherwise, alimony may be modified upon a showing of good cause although, in practice, alimony is difficult for either spouse to modify. Unless otherwise provided in the decree of dissolution, alimony will terminate upon the death of either party or the marriage of the recipient.  As with child support, Nebraska law imposes a lien on real estate owned by the party ordered to pay.  All payments must be made through the Clerk of the District Court.

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