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How Much Child Support Can I Expect To Receive?

How Much Child Support Is Right

Is there a maximum amount that can be garnished from my wages for child support?

There is a limit on how much of your wages can be garnished to pay child support (or child support plus spousal support). Believe it or not, however, the amount you are paying is well below that limit. Generally speaking, there are a lot of legal protections for debtors when it comes to how creditors can collect what they are owed. For example, a credit card company or department store can’t simply garnish your wages if you stop paying your bills. They must first sue you, win the lawsuit, and get the court to issue a wage garnishment order against you. Once they jump through all of these hoops, the amount they can garnish is limited to a maximum of 25% of your disposable income.

The rules are different for debts that are considered a higher priority. These debts include back taxes, student loans, and child support. Since 1988, all court orders for the payment of child support automatically include an order for wage withholding to pay that amount. (If you also owe spousal support or alimony, that amount may be included in the wage withholding order. However, if you owe only spousal support and not child support, the court will not automatically order wage withholding.)

Because child support is so important, the law sets a very high limit on the amount that can be withheld from your paycheck for this purpose. If you are not currently supporting another child or spouse who are not the subject of the order, up to 60% of your wages can be garnished. However, if you are currently supporting another child or a spouse (for example, if you have remarried and had another child), the court can order that up to 50% of your wages be withheld for child support.

The amount withheld from your check about a third of your wages is well within these limits. If you feel that you don’t have enough to live on after your child support is deducted, that’s a matter to bring up with the family court judge. Talk to your divorce lawyer to find out your chances for obtaining a modification of your child support obligations.

Calculating Child Support Payments in Utah

In the United States, laws regulate the payment of child support from one spouse to another using civil statute; however, different states take different factors into account. While every state weights factors slightly differently, there are a few major factors that will play a role in the calculation of child support in the state of Utah. Knowing how child support is calculated will place you in a position to defend your rights if you have to discuss child support during divorce proceedings.

Breaking Down Child Support Calculation in Utah

There are a few major components that are going to play a role in the calculation of child support in the state of Utah. These include:
• Base Child Support
• Medical Care
• Expenses Related to Child Care

Utah Code Section 78B-12-301 is used to determine monthly Child Support payments. This table is used when the court takes into account the incomes of both parents prior to issuing any child support orders.

The Role of Medical Expenses and Child Care Expenses

As long as health insurance is available at a reasonable price, the cost of providing health insurance for any children involved is shared equally between both parents. The same is true of any non-insured medical expenses. Some of the most common expenses that might not be covered by health insurance include:

• Deductibles for visits to the emergency room
• Copays for visit to the primary care physician
• Coinsurance for any major health expenses

These are going to play a role in the calculation of child support in the state of Utah. Furthermore, parents are also required to share any work-related childcare expenses evenly. This includes putting kids in daycare of summer camp while one or both parents are at work.

Tax Exemption for Any Dependent Children

Furthermore, a child support order could also establish which parent is allowed to claim the child as a dependent when it comes to federal or state income tax guidelines. Unless both parents are able to agree on who can claim the child as a dependent on his or her taxes, the court will issue an order awarding the exemption. Usually, this order is based on who is going to have primary custody of the child and who is bearing the majority of the expenses when it comes to raising the minor children. The court may also not award an exemption to a parent unless that exemption will actually lead to a tax benefit. It is important to rely on an expert legal professional who understands how this process works.

How Child Support Is Really Calculated in Utah

It seems that divorce is never fair. In fact, divorce seems to be the most complicated and confusing thing one can go up against in his or her life. But wait until you start trying to figure out how child support is calculated in Utah… Most divorcing couples have no idea how child support is calculated in Salt Lake City or elsewhere in Utah, and this is part of the reason why they end up with the kind of child support arrangement they were prepared for neither financially nor emotionally. Some people may think that child support is calculated based on the income of both parents, the number of children, and their custody arrangement, but in reality, there is so much more that’s going on when Utah courts determine child support. So you may be surprised to find out what factors are actually taken into account.

How To Calculate Child Support In Utah

Let’s start with the basics. Before digging deep to consider all factors and determine the child’s best interests, a family court will examine the gross income of both parents separately. The gross income of a parent includes income from all the sources, including salaries, rent, social security bills, and even unemployment payments and employments benefits. However, things like housing subsidies, welfare benefits, and general assistance are typically excluded from the equation when determining child support.

Fact: the average amount of child support reaches nearly $5,800 per year in the U.S. If a parent refuses to work just to avoid providing the other parent with child support payments, or voluntarily takes a pay cut just to be obliged with lesser payments, or deliberately quits his/her job altogether a Utah court will take into account the past and current earnings of the parent. Another factor that is important when calculating child support in Salt Lake City and all across Utah is the amount of time each parent is going to spend with the child as per the existing custody arrangement, which can be sole custody, joint custody, or split custody.

Utah Child Support Calculator Formula

Under the Utah State Legislature, local courts use a certain formula to calculate the amount of monthly child support payments in each case. The following factors are taken into consideration in the formula:

• The needs of the child, including medical care, education, insurance, and if he/she has any special needs;
• The income and needs of each parent, but especially the custodial parent;
• The non-custodial parent’s ability to make monthly child support payments;
• The child’s standard of living before his/her parents were separated or divorced, especially considering the child’s financial needs to maintain the same standard of living.

Can You Ever Change The Amount Of Child Support?

The parent who is obliged to make monthly child support payments is legally required to pay without delay, and cannot pay less, only more, if he/she wishes to. The court must always approve the amount of child support payments if the parents agree to any changes in child support.

If the court obliges you to pay the amount that you cannot afford – or had been able to afford for a while and now the arrangement is putting a heavy strain on your budget – you can always request a child support modification.
However, you’ll need to be legally represented by a child support attorney in order to obtain approval from the court, as you will have to prove that the child support modification is justified due to:

• Your diminished ability to earn;
• The other parent’s acquired ability to earn;
• Your changed standard of living;
• The receiving parent changing his/her marital status or living with a romantic partner who can provide for the child; And others.
If the child support arrangement is no longer working out, you can request a child support modification.

My Ex Won’t Pay Child Support

If your ex is not paying child support, you may need to file a motion to enforce the court order. An experienced family law attorney can help you accomplish this. Unfortunately, a lot of parents try to take child support issues into their own hands. When an ex is behind on child support payments, some parents decide to disallow visitation. Do not do this. A judge may interpret interference with parent time as discouraging the parent-child relationship with your ex.

Can You Divorce and Not Pay Child Support?

Utah does not allow you to waive child support. The child support is for the child and therefore, not for the parents to decide if you can or cannot pay. It is best for a child to receive financial support from both parents. If you completed a divorce without the help of a court or mediation, you may have an arrangement worked out with your ex where you do not pay child support but only if your incomes are comparable and you share 50/50 custody. Or child support is lower and you choose to waive it based on one of the four factors required in Utah. But such arrangements would be extremely unusual. For the most part, if you’re getting divorced, and you have children, and you are the higher earner, you should plan on paying child support.

How Much Child Support Do You Pay?

How much child support you will pay is mostly based on your income and how much physical custody you have. So, if your child lives with you half of the time, you will likely pay less child support than you would if the child didn’t live with you at all. Online child support calculators may be able to give you some estimate of how much child support you can expect to pay. But each situation is different, so you may end up paying more than the estimate or less than the estimated child support.

Do I Pay Child Support if My Wife Makes More Money?

You may still be asked to pay child support even if your wife, or husband, makes more money than you do. This is because it’s in the best interest of your child to have financial support from both parents, regardless of how much or how little a parent earns. Judges also want children to have a life that resembles the life they had before the divorce occurred. In a lot of cases, both incomes need to contribute to providing that life for the child. Kelly Clarkson was famously ordered to pay $50,000.00 per month for child support even though her husband was far from impoverished. Though most children can, and do, live off of far less than that, the judges felt it was important for the children to have a comfortable life with their father, just like they have with their mother.

Can child support be reduced?

Children require financial support in order to get through life. They simply do not have the resources to pay for their own education, food, clothing, shelter and extracurricular activities. For these obvious reasons, both parents are typically financially responsible for their children. This is the case whether they are seeking a divorce, or were never officially married. Typically, the non-custodial parent will need to supply their ex-spouse with monthly child support payments. But what happens if you are the paying parent and need to lower the monthly payment? What happens if lose your job or the child turns 18? These are all common issues that can arise over the course of the child/children’s life.

Utah Code § 78B-12-219 (Adjustment when Child Becomes Emancipated) provides that base child support will be automatically adjusted as soon as the child:
• Turns 18 years old.
• Graduates from high school (“during the child’s normal and expected year of graduation”).
• Gets married.
• Passes away.
• Is legally emancipated.
• Joins any branch of the Armed Forces.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.