How Much Child Support Is Right?

How Much Child Support Is Right

Raising children, it is sometimes said, takes an open heart, an open mind and an open wallet. The inevitable financial strains of a Long Island divorce can create some big questions when it comes to sharing the expenses of parenting.

What can I expect for child support?

According to Utah Child Support Standards guidelines, the costs of supporting a child are calculated as a percentage of the combined adjusted income of both parents (after taxes, spousal support and other child support), capped at $130,000 and broken down as follows:

  • One child: 17 percent
  • Two children: 25 percent
  • Three children: 29 percent
  • Four children: 31 percent
  • Five or more children: at least 35 percent

This figure is then divided according to each parent’s share of the total income. Non-custodial parents may also be expected to contribute to child care expenses, allowing the custodial parent to go to work or school, as well as the children’s health care and education costs. The percentages are only guidelines. A settlement agreement made between the spouses, as long as it is fair and in keeping with the technical standards of Utah’s Child Support Standards Act, is acceptable.

What if child support is not paid?

Failure to pay child support results in enforcement proceedings against the non-custodial parent. Your attorney can help you seek enforcement through Utah’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

What if I can no longer afford to pay my court-ordered child support?

Pursuant to the October 14, 2010 update of Utah Child Support laws, if your income has dropped at least 15 percent, your attorney can petition the court to have the support order modified.

Is Mediation a Better Choice than Divorce If You Have Children?

Divorce is hardest on children. Regardless of how young kids are, they know when something is wrong between their parents. However, when a couple uses traditional divorce methods, the process of separating can be even harder on children. In addition to being more cost-effective, mediation enables a family to sustain a divorce in a gentler manner.

Mediation is a positive process that focuses on moving forward instead of arguing over mistakes from the past. The process takes place in a comfortable environment agreed upon by each spouse. While this may not seem like a big change, a venue other than a courtroom can significantly reduce hostility between spouses.

Mediation occurs over several short sessions that focus on cooperation rather than conflict. A third-party mediator guides the couple toward making mutually beneficial decisions. In other words, spouses take control of their future, instead of allowing the court to make decisions for them.

You and your spouse determine the pace of mediation. The process can take as long as you want it to. Additionally, in mediation, you and your spouse can outline a parenting plan for your children. You can discuss custody and visitation rights and determine when each parent will spend time with your children.

The ending of a marriage is an emotional event. However, with mediation, you have the option of reducing the impact the event has on the lives of your children.

Free Consultation with Child Support Lawyer

If you have a question about child support or if you need to collect back child support, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will aggressively fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

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

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 49 reviews

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Child Support

Child support is mandatory in any divorce involving minor children. Petitioners with minor children must include an order for child support, even if the other parent is unemployed or cannot be found.

Child Support in Divorce

Most state laws have guidelines to determine child support payments. The payment amount is based on each parent’s income and the amount of time he or she spends with the children. The guidelines also provide for add-on amounts for the following expenses:

  • Child care
  • Health care and health insurance
  • Special educational or other needs
  • Travel-related visitation

Parents can increase or decrease the guideline amount if the following conditions are met:

  1. Both parents acknowledge they are fully informed of their rights under state law and the amount of child support is mutually agreed on,
  2. Both parents declare the agreed upon amount is in the children’s best interests and will adequately meet their needs, and
  3. For welfare recipients, the right to support has not been assigned to the county, and neither parent has a public assistance application pending.

Keep in mind that the judges presiding over divorces are the ultimate authority on child support decisions. They can deviate from the guidelines as they see fit.

Child support orders can be modified at any time. Special circumstances or income changes are just two reasons to revisit child support payments. The parties can agree in writing to the changed amount or can file a motion with the court. After the divorce is finalized, you should consult an attorney to change the amount.

Any order for child support payments typically includes an order for the assignment of wages. Child support payments usually begin when the judgment dissolving the marriage will be signed by the court, even though the parties will not legally be divorced until after the waiting period. If the judgment is delayed, you can file an application with the court to rush the payment of child support. You should seek an attorney if this is the case.

If a parent does not pay child support or is significantly late, he or she can be sued for contempt of court, have wages or tax refunds attached, or have his or her driver’s license blocked. These actions should be handled by an experienced attorney.

Tax Implications of a Divorce

Divorce can be challenging, particularly when it comes to tax time. Which spouse owes taxes? What forms and returns need to be filed? When do I need to file? How do I file? What is the best tax planning strategy for my divorce?

Tax Filing Status

A taxpayer will be considered unmarried at the end of a tax year if his/her spouse is legally separated from the taxpayer under divorce decree or separate maintenance contract at the close of the tax year.

A married taxpayer will be considered unmarried and eligible for head of household status if the taxpayer’s spouse was not a member of the household for the last six months of the year and the household is the home of a dependent child.

Liability on Joint Return

You may request relief from liability for tax, plus related penalties and interests for which you believe that your spouse (or former spouse) should be liable.

Innocent Spouse Relief is available if you: (1) filed a joint return and (2) are no longer married to (or are legally separated from) the spouse with whom the joint return was filed.

Dependency Exemptions 

In general, the dependency exemption for children of divorced taxpayers will go to the parent who has custody of the child for the greater part of the calendar year.

Alimony and Spousal Support 

In general, alimony and separate maintenance payments are income to the recipient and are deductible by the payer. Different rules apply to alimony that went into effect prior to 1985.

If you have specific questions about the tax implications of a divorce, you should speak to a licensed tax expert.

Free Consultation with Child Support Lawyer

If you have a question about child support or if you need to collect back child support, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will 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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 49 reviews

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