Utah Child Support Attorney
In the context of a divorce or paternity proceeding, the court requires the parents to provide financial support for the children which is done through a child support order. Our experienced child support attorneys are here to help protect you and your children. If you have questions about future child support or child support you are already paying, come to the trusted Utah child support attorneys at Wall & Wall Attorneys at Law. The child support in Utah is set using the Utah Uniform Child Support Guidelines contained in UCA 78B-12 and is detailed at the bottom of this article.
How is Child Support in Utah Determined?
Child support varies based upon the number of children and is also affected by the type of physical custody of the case. In cases where one of the parents is awarded primary physical custody, the child support paid by the non-custodial parent will be greater than in cases where parents have shared or joint custody arrangement. In the state of Utah, child support is determined from what is termed a “child support calculator”. Figures are plugged into the calculator and a total monthly figure is determined and set. The figures plugged in gross income, the number of children, and type of custody. The maximum combined income is $10,000 per month. If combined income exceeds the guideline amount then it is left to the discretion of the court to determine the child support. Factors taken into consideration will include any special needs of the children and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parents stayed together. More generally, though:
- Child support is based upon parents’ gross monthly incomes.
- Proof of income is required in the form of a paycheck stub showing current income along with the most recent tax return to submit the final decree of divorce or paternity.
- The gross monthly income is income received from the parents’ regular full-time employment.
- In situations where one or both of the parents are unemployed, the courts may actually impute or attribute income to that parent based upon his/her earning potential.
- The court will generally impute the minimum of federal minimum wage to the unemployed parent.
- Earnings potential can be based upon the analysis of historical wage or income history, education and work experience.
- Child support is payable until a child turns eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever is later.
- In cases involving multiple children, as each child turns eighteen or graduates from high school the child support is recalculated based upon the remaining number of minor children.
- An exception to this would in situations where there is a child with special needs which may require the payment of support well into adulthood.
The parents are generally required to share all out of pocket medical expenses which usually includes co-payments and payments toward deductibles on health insurance coverage. Where one or both of the parents are able to obtain health insurance coverage for the children at a reasonable cost, the maintaining of said coverage is usually ordered by the court with the parents being required to share equally in the children’s portion of the health insurance premiums. Where the non-custodial parent is the one maintaining insurance, the sharing or reimbursement from the custodial parent is done simply by deducting it from the child support obligation.
To ensure the well-being of the child in Utah, both parents are expected to pay for any Uninsured Medical Expenses that may be accrued.
Parents are also required to share all out of pocket work or education related child care expenses. Health insurance premium, medical (including dental and optical) expenses and child care expenses are in additional to the base child support Utah. When a parent pays a medical expense they are required to provide written proof of payment to the other parent within 30 days of payment of that expense. Subsequently, the other parent is required to provide one-half reimbursement of that receipt within 30 days of receiving proof of payment. With respect to reimbursement of child care expenses, the parent who incurs that expense is required to provide notification to the other parent of the name and location of the child care provider, the monthly child care cost and proof of amount incurred each month. Once the non-custodial parent has been provided this information he or she is then required to provide monthly reimbursement for one-half of the total cost to the other parent. The parent that incurs that cost doesn’t have to provide proof every month, but the non-custodial parent has a continuing obligation while child care services rendered to maintain monthly reimburse. The noncustodial parent has the right to request proof of child care costs at any time to verify expenditures. The custodial parent to immediately notify the non-custodial parent of any change in the child care provider or child care cost.
Utah Child Support Laws
Extended Visitation Reduction in Child Support
The non-custodial parent is entitled to a reduction in his child support obligation of 50% whenever he/she has the children for any 25 days of any 30 consecutive day period. A reduction of 25% whenever he/she has the children for any 12 days of any 30 consecutive day period. The Utah Annotated Code detailing this reduction is below:
Reduction for extended parent-time (78-12-216)
- The base child support award shall be:
(a) reduced by 50% for each child for time periods during which the child is with the noncustodial parent by order of the court or by written agreement of the parties for at least 25 of any 30 consecutive days of extended parent-time; or
(b) 25% for each child for time periods during which the child is with the noncustodial parent by order of the court, or by written agreement of the parties for at least 12 of any 30 consecutive days of extended parent-time.
- If the dependent child is a client of cash assistance provided under Title 35A, Chapter 3, Part 3, Family Employment Program, any agreement by the parties for reduction of child support during extended parent-time shall be approved by the administrative agency.
- Normal parent-time and holiday visits to the custodial parent shall not be considered extended parent-time.
Child Support Taxes in Utah
Another issue that the court will address during your divorce or paternity proceedings is the award of the child dependent tax exemptions. The court will usually consider which parent is providing the bulk of financial support for the children and which parent will gain the greatest relative tax benefit by claiming the child/children for tax exemption. If both parents are employed, the courts will usually allow the parties to share the exemptions in some fashion by alternating years or in cases with multiple children by dividing the number of children they each get to claim. A parent that is ordered to pay child support will not be allowed to claim the tax exemption unless he/she is current in their child support Utah payments for the tax year you want to claim.
ORS – Utah Office of Recovery Services
The payment of child support is required to be made pursuant to what is called a wage withholding order which is administrated through the Utah Office of Recovery Services (ORS). Mandatory income or wage withholding may be waived in certain circumstances where the payor is self-employed or the parties mutually agree to waive it. If it is waived then there is usually a provision where the payee has a right to go to ORS for assistance to recover the past due and ongoing child support through ORS.
Child Support Modification in Utah
Even though a divorce or paternity decree may set a child support amount, that amount is not necessary permanent. The court retains what is called continuing jurisdiction to modify certain provisions in such decrees. One of these is the amount of child support. In situations where there has been a significant increase/ decrease or loss of income by one or both of the parents the court may modify the child support amount based upon that change in circumstances. There are two circumstances to where child support may be modified. First, in cases where it has been more than three years since the child support was first established or last modified if the change in the parties’ incomes results in a change of the child support amount of more than 10% then the court more modify the support amount accordingly. In cases where it has been less that 3 years there is a threshold of 15% change to mandate a child support modification.
In order to obtain a modification, a petition to modify the existing child support order has to be filed with the court as a new proceeding. It is prudent to hire an attorney to assist you in this modification. In your original divorce/paternity decree, it is recommended that the parties be required to exchange yearly tax returns on an annual basis.
If you are in a circumstance where you lose your job, you are still on the hook to pay your monthly child support until the court modifies your support amount. It is critical to keep paying your child support during this time, but in modifications preceding you can make a request to the court of a temporary reduction in the child support while waiting for you’re the final determination on the petition to modify.
During a modification, if you have remarried your spouse’s income is not considered as part of the proceedings. Consult an attorney at Wall and Wall to assist you in these matters.
There are many important provisions to include in your decree of divorce or paternity and it is imperative that you receive legal counsel to ensure that all pertinent issues are covered and that the language is strong and appropriate to protect your long term interests.
Utah Code 78B-12-201: Determination of amount of support — Rebuttable guidelines.
- (a) Prospective support shall be equal to the amount granted by prior court order unless there has been a substantial change of circumstance on the part of the obligor or obligee or adjustment under Subsection 78B-12-210(6) has been made.(b) If the prior court order contains a stipulated provision for the automatic adjustment for prospective support, the prospective support shall be the amount as stated in the order, without a showing of a material change of circumstances, if the stipulated provision:
- is clear and unambiguous;
- is self-executing;
- provides for support which equals or exceeds the base child support award required by the guidelines; and
- does not allow a decrease in support as a result of the obligor’s voluntary reduction of income.
- If no prior court order exists, a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, or a petition to modify an order under Subsection 78B-12-210(6) has been filed, the court determining the amount of prospective support shall require each party to file a proposed award of child support using the guidelines before an order awarding child support or modifying an existing award may be granted.
- If the court finds sufficient evidence to rebut the guidelines, the court shall establish support after considering all relevant factors, including but not limited to:
(a) the standard of living and situation of the parties;
(b) the relative wealth and income of the parties;
(c) the ability of the obligor to earn;
(d) the ability of the obligee to earn;
(e) the ability of an incapacitated adult child to earn, or other benefits received by the adult child or on the adult child’s behalf including Supplemental Security Income;
(f) the needs of the obligee, the obligor, and the child;
(g) the ages of the parties; and
(h) the responsibilities of the obligor and the obligee for the support of others.
- When no prior court order exists, the court shall determine and assess all arrearages based upon the guidelines described in this chapter.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support
As part of a child custody arrangement for unmarried or divorcing parents, a court may order the non-custodial parent to pay a set monthly sum of money to the custodial parent to cover expenses relating to the care of a minor child or incapacitated adult child.
The “custodial parent” is the parent who has custody of the child. The child lives with that parent and the parent assumes responsibility for the child. A child support attorney usually drafts and files the agreement for court approval.
A child support order issued by the court makes the payment agreement legally binding. Without a child support order, the required payments are not enforceable under the law.
A court may consider the parents’:
- Standard of living
- Relative wealth and income
- Earning capacity of the non-custodial parent
- Earning capacity of the custodial parent
- Earning ability of an incapacitated adult child
- Other benefits received by an adult child
- The needs of both parents
- The needs of the child
- The ages of the parties
- Other dependents the parents may be responsible for.
Utah Code section 78B-12-204 through 205 lays out guidelines for child support Utah.
The non-custodial parent typically pays child support. Payments are made through the Child Support department of the Office of Recovery Services, a division fo the Utah Department of Human Services. Payments can be made by check, credit card, or direct deposit, either in person, by mail, over the phone, or online.
The custodial parent typically receives child support payments, since the custodial parent will incur expenses in caring for the child. If custody is shared jointly, the parent with more custody time may receive child support payments, but they may be lower since the other parent retains some custody.
No. “Custody” means the custodial parent is responsible for the child’s actions and well-being. A custodial parent may request or be entitled to child support payments, but a parent could also retain custody and receive no child support payments.
No. Alimony is money ordered to be paid by one divorcing spouse to the other for the benefit of that spouse. Child support is assessed to meet the basic needs of a child.
Many arrangements are possible for the divorce decree, including:
- One spouse pays both child support and alimony
- One spouse pays child support but no alimony
- One spouse pays alimony but no child support
- One spouse pays child support, but the other spouse pays alimony
It varies by state. In Utah, child support orders are a matter of public record. However, payment and delinquency records are confidential.
None. Child support payments are exempted from the purview of the IRS and other taxing authorities. A parent who pays child support receives no tax benefit, and the parent receiving child support is not liable for taxes on the payment. Note that alimony payments do have tax consequences.
If you think your child support agreement is no longer appropriate, you can file in court for a child support modification order. If the co-parent is on board, both parents can sign a child support modification agreement to expedite the process A child support attorney Utah can help draft the agreement.
If the co-parent disputes the request for a child support modification, the requesting parent must prove a substantial change of circumstances. Acceptable circumstances could include:
- the child’s evolving medical needs
- illness or disability of the non-custodial parent
- a substantial change in either parent’s income
- a change in the residence of the child.
Again, a child support lawyer can help draft the request and represent either parent in court until the dispute is resolved.
Frequently Asked Questions About Late Child Support
Generally, a child support payment is considered late when it doesn’t get paid by the arranged deadline. However, when a payment is truly considered “late” can vary based on the court. For example, in some cases, there may be a late child support grace period, much in the way many homeowners have a grace period when it comes to paying their mortgage. Typically, the first step involved when a non-custodial parent misses a child support payment is to receive a delinquency notice. This will explain how to make up for the missed payment as well as further consequences that may be handed down if payments continue to be missed. For help understanding and navigating a delinquency notice, contact our professional legal staff at Wall & Wall Attorneys At Law PC today.
Like we said in the opening, any scheduled child support payment may be considered “late” if it isn’t made at or before the arranged deadline. The only exception is if the court has arranged for there to be a grace period. The better question regarding late child support payments is: How late can a payment be before there are consequences? Failure to pay child support is considered a federal offense, and after a delinquency notice is issued, non-custodial parents generally have a certain timeframe where they must either pay what is owed, contest the delinquency notice or face further penalties.
If a child support payment is late and the non-custodial parent has received a delinquency notice, paying it will resolve any issue of tardiness. However, if this is a recurring issue and you owe a larger sum in child support back payments, then it’s always best to consult with a legal professional, such as those at Wall & Wall, for advice on the best steps to take moving forward.
There are a number of consequences when it comes to penalties on late child support payments, such as driver’s license suspension, income withholding, additional fines and even possibly a contempt order. And being that child support payments are finance-related, late or missing payments can also have a negative impact on your credit score. In fact, late child support payments have the same sort of effect on your credit score as a late mortgage or car payment does. The bottom line is that it behooves parents to treat any child support payment just as they would any other bill, as the credit score consequences for missing a payment or making a late one are similar. At Wall & Wall, we can work with you on how to remove late child support from credit report statements after you’ve resolved payment issues.
Payments may be delayed due to a holiday, but this wouldn’t necessarily have an effect on the due date of child support payments.
Many people don’t know what to do about late child support when they’re faced with a delinquency notice. The best thing non-custodial parents can do is comply with the delinquency notice and make any payment that they owe. However, in most cases, they can also contest it as long as they do so within a certain period. Furthermore, if a non-custodial parent is unable to make child support payments at the sum that they’ve been previously making them at, another thing they can do is request the court to modify a child support order. This typically occurs after a significant life event has taken place that impacts the amount of money a non-custodial parent will be able to make toward child support. Contact Wall & Wall Attorneys At Law PC today if you need to contest a delinquency notice or would like to see about making changes to your child support payments.
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