Practice Areas

Child Support

Once the issues of child custody are resolved, in particular whether the parties will share joint physical custody or if one party will have sole physical custody, parents often are faced with determining an appropriate amount of child support. Child support litigation deals with the financial obligations each parent has for the care of dependent children, and sometimes includes support for children over the age of 18. Usually, the non-custodial parent is the payor of child support, however that isn’t always the case. Regardless, it is important to keep in mind that child custody and child support in Utah are distinctly separate legal issues.

How is Child Support Determined?

Child support awards are governed by strict statutory guidelines in Utah referred to as the Utah Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines provide a specific mathematical approach in considering certain economic factors to determine the “reasonable needs of the child” as well as the “relative ability of the parents”, that include:

  • Number of children of the relationship
  • The amount of time, specifically overnights, each parent spends with each child annually
  • Each parent’s gross income from all sources, as gross income is defined under Utah law
  • Each parent’s contribution for medical insurance and child care;
  • Child support obligations for other children, specifically prior orders of child support
  • The number of children from prior relationships or that a party has a legal obligation for
  • On occasion, extraordinary expenses (tuition, visitation travel, medical care)

Conveniently, Utah has created forms for calculating child support. The guidelines are so specific that a parent’s child support obligation or expectation can be calculated with reasonable certainty in almost every instance.

Disputes often arise when attempting to determine what numbers are used in the form to calculate a child support obligation. If a parent intentionally is underemployed to deflate their income to reduce their obligation, it is possible to have the court impute potential and more realistic income for them (i.e., historical income can be used). In the event that a parent has not paid an obligation prior to the court ordering them it is also possible to seek retroactive support payments for a period of time. Usually the amount of retroactive support available is limited, though the Utah courts have discretion on this issue.

Enforcement of a Child Support Order

If timely payments of child support are not made the Courts have mechanisms in place to enforce the terms of the Order. These will vary depending on the facts involved, but can include payment of attorney fees for the other parent, license suspension, interception of income tax refunds, inability to hold or use a passport, inability to obtain or use a fishing or hunting license, and a possible jail sentence. Since child support obligations vest once they are due and nonpayment of support comes with serious consequences, if your child support orders needs changing, it is important to address those issues with an attorney immediately. The Utah Office of Recovery Services offers services to parents owed and receiving child support and will collect the ordered support, free of charge to the receiving parent.

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Our attorneys at Adair Evans are client focused family law attorneys who are dedicated to achieving the best possible results for their clients in divorce, divorce modification, custody, alimony, child support, and other family law matters. Our attorneys at Adair Evans are skilled and respected leaders in the Utah legal community who use their skills for the benefit of their clients.

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