What Happens If My Child Turns 18 But My Ex Still Owes Child Support?

What Happens If My Child Turns 18 But My Ex Still Owes Child Support?

Parents that still owe child support after the child turns 18, should continue to make child support payments. This is because, even when the child support obligation ends, child support arrears do not go away. The child support payments made after the obligation ends will go toward paying off arrears owed. The payor parent may even be able to petition the court to have the monthly payment lowered as the full monthly payments made would be going straight toward paying off the arrears total.

In Utah, there is no statute of limitations on collecting child support arrears. It does not matter how old the child is, even if the child has become a full-blown adult. Child support arrears remain until paid. This is not true in every state, but it is true in Utah. In some instances, even the death of the parent will not release him or her of the obligation to pay child support arrears. The other parent can make a claim against the obligor parent’s estate if he or she dies with unpaid child support still owed.

It is important to note, however, that just because there is no statute of limitations in place on child support arrears does not mean that you should wait to take action. Delays in seeking collection of past-due child support may provide the delinquent parent with possible defenses to any claim to arrears you may seek later on. Laches, for instance, may apply. A laches claim means that the delinquent parent is asserting unreasonable delay in you making your claim to child support arrears. There are several ways you may be able to collect back child support and the Utah Department of Revenue may be able to assist you with this. The Utah Department of Revenue is authorized to carry out a wide array of actions in order to get payment on back child support. Collection efforts may include:
• Sending notices of late payment
• Income withholding
• Suspension of the delinquent parent’s driver’s licenses and professional licenses
• Intercepting federal income tax refunds or workers’ compensation support payments
• Placing a lien on personal property
• Passport application denial
• Notifying credit agencies of child support arrears
• You also have the option of filing a motion for contempt with the court.

Will Child Support Still Be the Same If the Child Turns 18 and I Still Owe Arrears?

Child support provides for the costs of raising your child until they reach the age of majority, or adulthood, in your state or until they meet other court-established requirements, such as completing high school. Typically, child support ends at that point, but if you are behind on your child support payments to your child’s other parent, you must continue making payments to make up for the amounts you did not pay, called arrears, until you fulfill your obligation.

Child Support Basics

Courts frequently include child support requirements in divorce decrees. When a judge orders a noncustodial parent to pay child support to the child’s custodial parent, the intention is that the money be used to pay for the child’s care and support. Common uses include necessities such as shelter, food, clothing, and medical care as well as the costs of childcare, school and educational costs and fees, activities, entertainment, travel, and more.
Judges consider a variety of factors when determining whether to order child support and, if so, how much to award. Ideally, child support lets the child continue to enjoy the same standard of living they enjoyed before the parents’ divorce. Of course, child support depends on financial needs and the noncustodial parent’s ability to pay.

Payments in Arrears vs. On-Time Payments

Your divorce decree or separate child support court order defines specific child support requirements. Typically, child support ends when the child reaches the age of 18 and finishes high school, although in some states or under some court orders, it continues through a child’s college years. If you make your payments on time, your obligation ends when your family’s situation meets the requirements described in your divorce decree or court order.
Sometimes, though, noncustodial parents struggle to meet their child support obligations. If a child reaches the point when payments would otherwise stop, the noncustodial parent still owes the debt associated with any missed payments.

In some states, child support not paid on time is subject to interest and late payment penalties. So, the amount you owe your child’s other parent may be greater than what you originally owed.

Statutes of Limitations

Child support laws are state specific. Some states’ laws include statutes of limitations for late child support payments. That means that your child’s other parent cannot collect child support in arrears after a certain point. In many states, this limit is 10 years after the due date for the last child support payment. So, if your child support should have ended when your son or daughter turned 18, your child’s other parent only has until your child’s 28th birthday to collect child support in arrears.

If you owe child support in arrears and your child has reached the age of majority or another milestone specified in your child support order, the debt is still valid. Sometimes, parents pay child support in arrears long after the child reaches adulthood.

Collecting Back Child Support After the Child Turns 18

Just because your ex missed a child support payment doesn’t mean the obligation goes away. Like any financial obligation, the amount you’re owed will accumulate and your ex will still be responsible for making back child support payments.

Emancipation and Arrears

Those who are late making child support payments are said to be “in arrears.” As noted above, this debt does not go away, even after the child turns 18. So even though the child has reached the age a majority, the payments that should have been made before he or she turned 18 are still enforceable after that. Keep in mind that state laws can vary a little on this issue. For example, some states cut off child support at 18, some at 19, and others at 21. (And some dismiss child support obligations if the child has been “emancipated.”) Also, some states and courts may modify child support obligations after the child turns 18, since the custodial parent no longer needs to support the child. Even with these differences, however, the rule is that child support payments must continue until the arrears balance is paid in full, regardless of the child’s age.

Enforcement Actions

States and the federal government are pretty serious when it comes to enforcing child support orders. Enforcement officials can withhold or revoke driver’s licenses or passports, garnish wages, seize tax refunds, place liens on property, or even sentence a delinquent parent to jail time. These enforcement measures can continue after the child turns 18, and most states do not allow child support obligations to be discharged in bankruptcy. One thing to keep in mind is that some states may have statutes of limitation on collection of back child support, so may only have a limited time to collect after your child turns 18 or you may have to go back to court and renew the child support order. Child support collection can be complicated, both legally and emotionally. If you have questions regarding child support obligations or are having trouble collecting back child support, you should contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.

How Can I Reduce my Child Support Debt?

If you owe child support arrears to the government because your child received public assistance (“welfare” or foster care), you may qualify for one of Utah’s arrears reduction programs.

Child Support Debt Reduction Program

The Child Support Debt Reduction Program is a Utah program designed to help you reduce the child support debt you owe to the government. If you qualify for this program you will be allowed to pay off your debt for less than the full amount owed. You may qualify for this program if you are able to pay both your current child support obligation and an ongoing debt payment. If you don’t owe child support, only the ability to make the debt payment is considered. Your current income, assets, and cost of living are all taken into account, as is the total size and makeup of your family. Every case is different, and these are very general items for your review. Other details of your case may also affect your eligibility.

What the Debt Reduction Program won’t do:
• It will not forgive the entire debt.
• It does not change your monthly child support obligation.
• It will not reduce unpaid child support that is owed directly to the person receiving support you can only reduce the amount you owe to the government.
• It will not reduce spousal support arrears.

Some rules:
• Don’t stop paying your child support because you are applying for the Debt Reduction Program. This is grounds for a denial of your application.
• Provide complete information and documents with your application. Your application cannot be considered until you have done this.
• Be honest. If you do not tell the truth on your application, or if you hide income or assets, your application will be denied.
• Make your payments as agreed. If you do not make the debt reduction payments after an agreement has been reached, your agreement will be canceled and you will owe the unpaid amount to the state again.
• Even if you are approved, keep paying your regular child support. If you miss any current child support payments your agreement will be canceled. You will owe the full amount of your pre-agreement arrears and will not receive a refund for any payments made.

Compromise of Assigned Arrearages-Family Reunification (COAA-FR) program

Utah has adopted the COAA-FR program to help bring parents and children placed in out-of-home care back together. This program allows the compromise of child support arrears owed to the government when a child who was placed in foster care, or with a relative caretaker or guardian, later returns to the home of a parent who was ordered to pay support.

You may qualify for this program if:
• You are the parent of a child and you owe support debt to the government because your child received aid from one of the following while your child was not living with either parent:
• Aid to Families with Dependent Children-Foster Care (AFDC-FC)
• Utah Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
• Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payment (KinGAP)
• ONE of the following situations applies:
• Your child was made a dependent of the court, placed in foster care, and the court later gave custody to you
• Your child was voluntarily placed with a relative or guardian (not the other parent); and the child lived with you at some point in the past.
• Your child is living with you now at least 50% of the time
• Your child has not reached the age of majority (AOM) or emancipated
• Your net disposable income (after taxes) is less than 250% of the federal poverty level and a compromise is necessary to help you support the child
• You are following any reunification plan required by the county welfare department or the court

How to Get Child Support Arrears Dismissed in Utah

Child support arrears refer to the amount of child support owed that a parent has failed to pay. Although failure to pay child support arrears can result in negative outcomes for a parent/guardian, it is possible to work with Utah courts to have owed amounts lessened or waived. Here’s how to get child support arrears dismissed in Utah.
Dismissal of child support arrears is possible in the State of Utah when the proper steps are taken. Although it is unlikely that the full amount owed will be forgiven, there are ways to reduce the amount greatly.

Consequences of Failing to Pay Child Support Arrears

If a parent or guardian has failed to pay child support arrears, they may face serious consequences. These include but are not limited to:
• Having wages suspended by the government to pay the court obligation. This can not only include one’s salary, but the wages that are suspended can also include social security, unemployment, disability, workers’ compensation, and tax refunds.
• It is possible for a parent/guardian to be charged with a misdemeanor if that parent/guardian has willingly failed to pay the owed amount of child support arrears.
• Failure to pay child support arrears can result in the revocation of the parent’s/guardian’s driver’s license.
• An increase in child support payments may result from missed payments towards child support arrears.
• Any state professional license obtained by the parent/guardian can be suspended.
• The parent/guardian may be refused a renewal of their passport if they fail to pay their child support arrears.
• Credit score can be negatively impacted due to the debt accrued by the child support payments.
• The state can order a lien against any property owned or have interest in.

Child Support Arrear Forgiveness in Utah

Although the consequences are severe, child support arrears can be forgiven in the State of Utah. There are multiple ways in which a parent can have their child support arrears waived or forgiven:
• Parents are allowed to ask the court to recalculate the amount owed to make sure that it is correct.
• If a child lived with a parent for a period that the arrear is referencing, the judge may lessen the amount owed. This will often depend on the amount of time the child spent under the parent’s care and how much financial support was given during this time.
• In Utah, child support arrears gain an interest of 10% annually. Although child support arrears do accrue interest, one may not have to pay it all back in some cases.
• A parent can request a payment schedule from the court. Although this does not lessen the amount, it does help the parent get back on track to pay the original balance.
• A parent is allowed to reach a settlement with the other guardian of the child. If the debt from the arrears becomes too expensive, one may be able to reach a lump-sum settlement with the other guardian. It should be noted, however, that even if both guardians reach an agreement to waive the remaining child support arrears, this settlement must be approved by the court.
• Utah courts will work with parents/guardians to pay the correct amount of child support on time.

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
Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews

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How to Apply For Utah Child Support

The first step is getting a court order, it’s important to get a court order as soon as the baby is born, especially if the parents are not married. If the parents are legally separated or divorced then a court order is also needed. Utah child support usually starts on the date the court order was filed and it is not retroactive. So it is very important to begin the process as soon as possible.

You can obtain a court order through the Utah child support office, when doing so you have the option to have the agency represent you, obtain a lawyer, or just represent yourself. It is usually the best option to select an attorney to represent you as they do not have an emotional attachment and know the law. Once you have been approved for child support, the next step is to collect Utah child support payments.

What’s Involved When Applying For Utah Child Support?

If you are a single mom and were not married to your child’s father then you first need to contact the local Office of Child Support Enforcement, OCSE, so they can help establish paternity. In some circumstances this could require tracking down the other parent in order to perform a genetic test.

What If I Do Not Know Where The Other Parent Is?

You will be asked to provide information of the most recent address of the other parent you are looking for by the Child Support Enforcement Office. The information provided will be utilized by the Federal Parent Locator Service, which is part of the OCSE, by the National Directory of New Hires, State Directories of New Hires and State Employment Security Agencies to assistance in locating the other parent.

Is The Process Long When Applying For Utah Child Support?

The process for filing for Utah child support can be a lengthy process due to the amount of agencies this has to go through. You will first be set up with a case worker at the Utah Department of Human Services, they will walk you through the process of establishing paternity, obtaining a legal child support order, and receiving the actual child support.

Could Applying For Utah Child Support Allow Visitation Rights?

Though this could lead to allowing visitation rights for the other parent, because it acknowledges the other parent as the biological parent, this is considered a different matter in the court system. If the other parent is proven to be the child’s biological parent, then the non-custodial parent can exercise his or her right to visitation. This process would require the other parent to petition the court so that visits can be established.

Are There Fees For Filing For The Utah Child Support Program?

The fee can vary from state to state but in most cases you may be charged up to $25 to apply for child support through the Utah Department of Human Services, however if you currently receive TANF or Medicaid then you will not be charged this filing fee. If you want to move forward with filing for child support, then contact the Utah child support agency. They will work with you to establish and enforce a child support order. When you apply for child support you will need to provide documents. Below are a list of documents you may need when filing out your Utah child support application:
• A valid photo id such as your driver’s license
• Proof of residency such as a receipt for rent or a utility bill
• Birth Certificate’s for your child or children that you are filing to receive child support for
• Latest location information of the other parent
You may also need to bring the following based on your child support application requirements:
• Paternity Test Results
• Divorce Records
• Social Security Cards for you and your children
• Description of Personal Property
• Wage Information such as recent pay stubs or w-2 forms
• Child support payment history
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.

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.

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:
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.

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.

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 modifies the support amount accordingly. In cases where it has been less than 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.

(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.

How Does Child Support Work?

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.

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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews

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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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Solution For Custody And Child Support

Solution For Custody And Child Support

If you’re separated or getting a divorce from your kid’s other parent, you probably have a ton of questions about custody and child support. In an ideal world, these are things you wouldn’t have to think about. But in the real world, parents split up, and rarely is it possible to simply go your separate ways. Lots of issues have to be addressed when you have kids in common, starting with where your child lives and how their expenses are paid. Custody doesn’t just cover where children go to bed at night and wake up in the morning.

There are two aspects of custody — physical custody and legal custody. Kids live with the parent who has physical custody and have “visitation” with the other parent (that is, unless both parents have shared physical custody), while legal custody is the right to make important decisions (about education, health care, religion, international travel, etc.) relating to a child. An order may be made for sole or joint custody and joint custody doesn’t necessarily mean a 50/50 split.

Shared legal custody means both parents have an equal say in major decisions affecting the child. “It’s not uncommon for parents to disagree; therefore it makes sense to have a way to resolve disputes without having to go to court, which can be expensive and not provide a quick solution When making any decision that affects a child, the court’s paramount consideration is the best interests of that child. When it comes to physical custody, this means the court is focused on who will provide a better home environment for the child, taking into account all relevant factors, such as comfort, safety and proximity to school and friends. Regarding legal custody, the court looks for who can be trusted to make the best decisions for the child. This means it’s crucial that parents realize they’re constantly being evaluated by the judge even when dealing with other issues, such as spousal support. “It’s extremely important not to be petty, emotional or overly adversarial” towards the other parent in any context. When determining what’s in the best interests of a child, certain factors shouldn’t be relevant, such as the gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability or financial status of the parent. “Many people think the courts favor mothers over fathers in custody determinations simply on the basis of their gender or because of the outdated ‘tender years doctrine.”

“The truth is that mothers often take on the primary caretaker role because of traditional gender expectations within the nuclear family. However, this is changing, and you will likely begin to see more and more fathers taking on a stronger caretaking role, especially after a divorce.” It can be really hard just to talk to someone who’s treated you badly or broken your heart — let alone cooperate, compromise, and co-parent with them. But you have to take the high road for your kid’s sake, as well as to present yourself in the best possible light to the courts. “Courts will also look to the relationship between the parents to determine who will be a better choice as the primary custodian. “If there is evidence of a parent’s intentional alienation from the other parent, refusal to communicate, interference with the other parent’s timeshare, or even a basic failure to cooperate, the courts can award custody to the other parent even if the alienating parent has been the primary caregiver.” Before you even set foot in a lawyer’s office, think about the type of custodial schedule you think will work best for your family. “Custody is a fact-specific determination, so be prepared to discuss many types of details with your lawyer.” “For example, does one parent work overnights or leave for work too early in the mornings to have weekday overnights? Does one parent travel frequently for work so that there will need to be make-up time provisions?” It sounds obvious, but it’s important to remember that child support is not about two dueling parents, mediator and divorce coach at Divorce Harmony. “Child support shouldn’t make the party giving or receiving it feels like they can use it for revenge or any other negative means; it should be looked at solely through the lens of what is necessary to help with the upkeep of the child. Also, the court will prioritize child support over spousal support. “Courts are more concerned with protecting children than compensating one parent”. “Children are seen as the vulnerable, innocent victims of a divorce; accordingly, the court will decide child support first and make that a priority over spousal support.”

This means non-custodial parents may not have a lot left for spousal support if they have a large child support obligation. You can’t change child support arrangements easily when the court makes an order for child support; it remains in place until the circumstances of either party change materially. So you should avoid the temptation to agree to something that’s less than ideal simply to bring court proceedings to an end. “That may provide the temporary pleasure of ending litigation sooner, but you won’t be able to change the arrangement unless something significant happens, such as one of the parents getting a new job, moving, getting remarried, etc. Child support laws and models vary from state to state, but it’s always based on the expense of raising a child, including basics such as food, clothing and shelter. “Sometimes, child support is a set amount of money that is paid each month, and then other expenses are paid directly on top of that, such as childcare and medical insurance.” The duration of child support also varies. Some states require child support until the child turns age 18; others, such as Utah, go as far as age 21. You don’t have to endure months (or years) of court proceedings to do what’s best for your kids. There are many alternatives for resolving parenting issues outside of court. “These days, more and more parents are choosing to sit down with a mediator to determine a parenting plan that works best for their family and to settle the matters of support. “In making decisions together in a cooperative fashion, parents set up a new paradigm of cooperative compromise and communication, which helps them to co-parent beyond the divorce or separation.” Whatever your circumstances are, one thing is clear: The less conflict during court proceedings (and in your life in general), the better. And that’s not just for your own sake and sanity: “Any opportunity to reduce or avoid conflict should be explored by parents because in the end, it is the level of conflict between their parents that is a predictor of problems for children later in life.” “Any steps that can be taken to avoid that conflict is truly what is in the best interests of the children.”

Divorce can be complicated and emotional, especially when children are involved. Every family is different when it comes to determining where the children should live and how their time is best split between parents. Nevertheless, courts typically require one parent to pay child support so that the parent with primary custody isn’t solely responsible for maintaining the children’s standard of living. Calculating each spouse’s share of the financial responsibility can be challenging, especially since the rules for determining child support are relatively fluid. Each state has its own guidelines that help its courts decide how child support is to be paid in a divorce. Courts can deviate from these guidelines when appropriate, and parents usually have the flexibility to come up with their own arrangements if the court agrees. Like any issue in divorce, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for determining who will bear the brunt of financially supporting the children. Still, if you’re going through a divorce and have minor children, the following considerations may help frame the conversation.

• Child support is always modifiable: Child support calculations are often based on each parent’s income, the number of children, and the percentage of time each parent spends with the children. Courts may also consider spousal support as well as who pays for childcare, health insurance, education, and school expenses. No matter the formula, the focus of the calculation is on the need for support. Importantly, the court’s decision can be altered as circumstances change. For example, one parent may lose their job, become disabled, receive a meaningful inheritance or substantially increase their income. When necessary, divorced parents can return to court to modify their child support arrangement.

• Child support takes precedence over spousal support: In many cases, the spouse collecting spousal support also collects child support. However, it’s important to remember that child support usually takes precedence over spousal support. If, down the road, a court determines that child support payments can be reduced, spousal support will often also be reduced—this is one reason why one parent cannot unilaterally modify the agreed-upon arrangement.

• Child support payments have no positive or negative tax consequences: As a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, child support payments are considered outside the tax system for both the recipient and payer. Under the current tax code, the recipient is not taxed on child support collected, nor can the payer deduct the payments from his or her taxes.

On the other hand, a split-custody arrangement may have tax implications for one or both parents. Specifically, a child can only be claimed as a dependent by one parent, meaning only one parent can take the exemption on their taxes. Typically, the parent who has physical custody of the child for the largest portion of the year takes the exemption. However, the exemption can be traded back and forth between each parent from year-to-year by filing an additional form. Divorced parents can also divide the exemptions if they have multiple children. For either parent to claim the exemption, the child must live with one of the parents for more than half the year. Since dividing and trading exemptions can be thorny, it’s usually best to work with a tax professional for a reasonable solution for both parties. Child support can be a hot-button issue in a divorce. No matter the arrangement, it’s entirely possible for both parents to feel disadvantaged. Still, many issues can be worked through so long as the children’s best interests are the focus. If you’re preparing to go through a divorce or are already in the midst of one, it can be helpful to discuss the situation with your wealth advisor or another trusted financial professional to prepare for the complexities associated with paying or collecting child support.

Modifying Custody, Visitation and Child Support

It is not uncommon for circumstances to change once a divorce decree has been granted. What was once a workable solution to custody, visitation rights and child support, can sometimes no longer serve the parents or children involved. Is there anything that can be done about a divorce decree that is outdated? Can the terms of a divorce decree regarding children be changed?

What Terms Can be Modified?

• Custody (conservatorship)
• Terms of visitation
• Child support
A request to modify custody, visitation or child support must be filed in the court which last entered an order regarding the children. Check with the court that entered the decree to see what procedures or forms may be required for modification. Generally, any person who is affected by the court order can request a modification.

What are the Reasons (Grounds) that a Court will Modify Custody of a Child?
The grounds for a change of custody are complex and should be discussed with an attorney. Some of the factors the court considers are changes in circumstances of the parties of the child, an emergency concerning the child, if the proposed change would be positive improvement for the child, and if a change would be in the best interest of the child. If a Motion to Modify is filed, a child 12 years or older may file an affidavit with the court naming the parent with whom the child wishes to live. However, this choice is not binding on the court because the court must also consider technical grounds and the best interest of the child. If the person having custody of the child is under the last court order voluntarily leaves the child in the possession of another person for a period of more than 6 months and the court finds that this arrangement is in the best interest of the child, the court may modify custody upon the filing of the proper motion with the court.

How can I Modify Visitation with my Child?

The court must consider some of the following and may consider all of the following:

• A material and substantial change of circumstances since the last visitation order

• The last visitation order is unworkable

• The people with custody move outside of state or moved without giving proper notice to the person with visitation rights before the move.

• A person with visitation rights repeatedly failed to exercise visitation with the child.

States and counties vary as to the procedures to be followed for modification. The court that entered the decree for the divorce or child custody should be consulted as to their procedures and forms. While it is possible for individuals to do the paperwork and court appearances for their own modifications, be aware that courts have strict requirements for completion of the forms and time limits for filing the modification requests that may be difficult for an individual to comply with. If the modification is important, consulting an attorney could save future problems.

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

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 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

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Imputed Income for Child Support in Utah

The law is clear that parents have an ongoing obligation to financially support their minor children. Although most parents have no problem with this duty of support, some parents resist what they consider to be excessive child support orders and may intentionally reduce income to lower their support payments.

Imputed Income for Child Support in Utah

The law has specific rules for situations where paying parents reduce their earnings without good cause. In Utah, the courts may add back into the child support calculation the income that the paying parent claims to have lost. This concept is known as “imputing income.”

This article addresses how Utah courts impute income when the paying parent is falsely lowering her or his earnings. If you have questions after reading this article, you should contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.

Establishing a Child Support Order

Utah law states specifically that children are entitled to share in the current incomes of both parents. State law uses a formula to determine how much child support should be paid by one parent to the other parent. For more detailed information about the child support law in Utah.

The Meaning of Imputed Income

If a judge rules that the parent who is responsible for paying child support (the paying parent) has intentionally lowered his or her earnings, the court can attribute additional income toward the paying parent in order to establish a fair child support order – one that will provide sufficient financial support to the child. This is called “imputing income.”

Courts won’t impute income when there is good cause for a reduction in support. However, when judges find that a parent has voluntarily reduced income, then the paying parent will likely be ordered to pay support based on his or her earning capacity.

Voluntary Unemployment

Some parents may think their child support payment is too high or feel that they should not have to pay any child support at all. They may try to find ways to avoid their obligation to their children. Some paying parents may decide to quit a job, refuse to find replacement work, and then ask the court to reduce their child support payment. In Utah, if a court determines that the paying parent lost a job deliberately, he or she will be considered voluntarily unemployed, and the judge will not reduce the child support order.

Voluntary Underemployment

The term “underemployment” means that the paying parent has intentionally taken a lower paying job or hides income to lessen the child support order. In other words, the paying parent is working below his or her full earning potential.

A paying parent may be underemployed when he or she is no longer working in an occupation for which she or he has been trained and is working at a lower paying job. For example, a registered nurse may decide to leave a lucrative hospital job and take a minimum wage job in a daycare. The court could rule that the nurse is underemployed and should be earning more money.

The paying parent doesn’t necessarily have to be deliberate in trying to lose or lower income. Utah law holds that if the paying parent’s loss of earnings is due to neglect, income can be imputed.

A court could also find a paying parent to be underemployed if the paying parent defers taking sales commissions or bonuses. For example, right before a scheduled child support hearing, the paying parent defers taking a year-end bonus by asking his or her employer to pay the bonus at a later time. The intention is to keep the bonus hidden, so it’s not used to calculate child support. If it’s proven that this was the paying parent’s ploy, the judge may impute or add the bonus back into the calculation.

How Courts Calculate Imputed Income

In child support cases, Utah law requires that both parents provide their most recent income tax returns and written proof of their current and past earnings. The judge has this information available for reference to see what the paying parent was earning in the past and base child support on that amount, rather than the artificially reduced amount of income.

When the paying parent has no significant work history or fails to provide his or her income history, the judge may refer to the most recently published Utah Occupational Employment Wage Survey. The judge will draw on this information to establish what the paying parent’s imputed income should be.

Utah law has special statutes that focus on business owners who may try to use the business to hide income. If the business owner is lending the business money to minimize his or her earnings, the loan interest should be at the going market rate. Otherwise, the loan amount could be counted as income for child support calculation purposes.

When Imputing Income is not Allowed

There are some cases where courts are prohibited from imputing income. If the paying parent becomes physically or mentally disabled or has had employment losses due to Hurricanes Katrina or Rita, the court cannot find that the paying parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.

In addition if one parent is caring for the parties’ child who is under five years of age, the court will not attribute income to that parent.

Free Consultation with a Child Support Lawyer in Utah

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

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Child Support by Agreement

Child Support by Agreement

Payment of child support can come about in one of three main ways:

  • Agreed upon in informal negotiations between the parents (usually with attorneys)
  • Resolved through use of out-of-court alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceedings
  • Decided when a child support order is entered by a court.

The following overview focuses on resolution of child support payment through use of the first two methods mentioned above: agreement between the parents through informal settlement negotiation and use of ADR processes such as mediation and collaborative family law. Note: Even if your child support situation is resolved outside of court, in most states you will need court approval of your agreement to ensure that it complies with the Utah State guidelines on child support. You should call us to discuss this to make sure your child support agreement is enforceable in court.

Child Support through Informal Negotiations

If parents are willing to work together informally to resolve all issues related to child support (including payment amount, frequency of payments, and duration) they can negotiate an agreement with or without the assistance of attorneys. In some cases, the parties in a child support dispute may prefer to have their positions negotiated by an attorney, or the parties may negotiate themselves, and can consult their attorneys prior to finalizing any agreement. The specific settlement negotiation process will vary in most cases, but the ideal end result of successful settlement talks in a child support case is a written agreement. This written agreement may be referred to as a “settlement agreement,” and in some child support cases (such as those that are part of a divorce) the agreement on child support may be a part of a larger “divorce agreement” or “dissolution agreement.” (more on finalizing this agreement below.)

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Child Support

For parents who need to resolve a child support matter, another option is alternative dispute resolution (ADR) — including processes such as mediation and collaborative law. ADR may prove to be a beneficial tool in resolving child support issues, depending on factors such as the degree to which the parents are in dispute on key issues related to child support and their willingness to work together to resolve those issues.

Child Support in Mediation

ADR processes tend to be less adversarial and more casual than the traditional court setting, and may facilitate early settlement.

With mediation and collaborative family law, parents in a child support dispute (along with their attorneys) have an opportunity to play an active role in resolving key decisions related to child support, instead of having a third party (judge or jury) make those decisions. Rarely used in family law cases, arbitration is a more structured ADR option, in which a neutral third-party makes decisions after hearing each side’s evidence and arguments. The arbitrator’s decision in a child support is not necessarily final, and the parties may still be able to resolve key issues before a court at a later date.

Finalizing the Child Support Agreement

Whether the parties resolve a child support dispute out-of-court through informal negotiation or ADR, the ideal result is a written document which finalizes what was agreed upon. This agreement is usually shown to a judge for final approval, to ensure that what the parents have agreed to also complies with state guidelines on child support. An informal court hearing may follow, during which the judge will ask some basic factual questions to make sure that each party understands the terms of the agreement.

As long as the judge is satisfied that the child support agreement was fairly negotiated, and that the terms do not contradict state guidelines, the agreement will almost always receive court approval. In most states, the agreement then becomes a binding court order or “decree,” and the parents or other parties to the agreement must adhere to it or face legal consequences. For example, if a child support settlement agreement has been converted into a court order, and the agreement is violated by a father who repeatedly fails to make support payments on time, the mother can go to court to enforce her rights to child support payments under the order, and the father will face additional fines or even jail time if he fails to meet his child support obligations under the order.

Free Consultation with a Utah 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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Establishing Legal Paternity in Utah for Child Support

Because I am a lawyer in Utah, I’m often asked about issues with child custody and child support. When it comes to child support in Utah, both parents are responsible for ensuring their child has sufficient funds. It becomes a more complicated matter if legal paternity is not established, even if the biological father is known.

Establishing Legal Paternity in Utah for Child Support

Despite being the biological father, without official paternal establishment, a man does not have the legal rights or responsibilities of being a father. These include custody, visitation and child support. In order to establish the rights of the father, there is a formal application process for legal paternity. This typically requires submitting some paperwork and might also include a DNA paternity test, depending on the support of the mother.

According to Paternity Matters, in Utah, the definition of paternity includes the legal recognition of the father. The state, the child, the mother or the biological father might initiate this process. It is typically done through submitting the Voluntary Declaration of Paternity, which is issued by the Department of Health, Office of Vital Records and Statistics. It is provided free of service at the birth of the child, but can be submitted at any time after the birth for a fee.

For this to be done, both parents must hear a message or watch a movie, read the official legal notice and then sign the document with witnesses. This establishes legal paternity, which also adds the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate. After this document is submitted, the legal father will be responsible for child support, so the mother has the right to file an order.

Paternity establishment typically occurs when a woman is unmarried, since for married women, the paternity is assumed to belong to the husband. If this is not the case, then a Utah Voluntary Declaration of Paternity or some other legal order provides the paternity rights to the biological father rather than the husband. This information is intended to educate only and should not be considered legal advice.


Because couples experience so many different fond memories and difficult times together, no two Utah marriages are the same. And because of that, every divorce is also unique. As it turns out, collaborative divorce may be particularly fitting for one specific demographic of couples across the country since the group is faced with several unique opportunities and challenges during the divorce process.

Since collaborative divorce incorporates several legal and financial resources into the process, relying on the valuable insight of figures like financial advisors and experienced family law attorneys to help divorcing parties come to a mutual agreement on their own, it’s an effective option for couples seeking a divorce after many years of marriage. The number of long-term married couples filing for divorce has increased considerably in recent years, and many of which do so because they feel disconnected from one another after their children leave home. As a result, these couples do not experience many of the issues that contribute to other divorces and divorce disputes.

Despite the fact that older couples in the midst of divorce proceedings may not typically come across such issues as child custody and/or support arrangements, they may encounter concerns over factors like spousal support. Alimony is often considered in cases where one party relied on the financial support of the other, but such arrangements are often temporary. Therefore, it is in the best interest of individuals to think about how their collaborative divorce may affect their financial situation.

Given that so many people are living full and productive lives well into their later years, it’s important that sound legal counsel is obtained to help ensure that those seeking divorce after decades of marriage come to a fair and reasonable agreement.

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 Guidelines Reflect Modern Ideals

While many Utah family law guidelines are intended to account for the best interests of the child in a divorce case, many would argue that some policies have reflected and reinforced gender bias through the years. Slowly, however, the law may be catching up with contemporary principles, since there’s evidence to suggest that child support agreements established across the country increasingly have fathers receiving financial support from their exes.

Establishing child support payments is intended to account for the financial needs of children following divorce. As such, the process involves identifying the parent that was physically responsible for the kids the majority of the time during the marriage, while also recognizing the parent that provided for the household financially. Once it’s determined which party was the primary breadwinner prior to divorce, an appropriate support plan can be created. If you need help with this, you should contact us at Ascent Law, LLC.

Now that more mothers across the country are providing for their families financially as well as physically, child custody arrangements everywhere are reflecting the shift in family dynamics. In 2013, a Pew Research study found that single mothers were responsible for heading approximately 25 percent of American households. Beyond that, around 40 percent households were financially supported by mothers. That’s why more mothers than ever before are now responsible for paying child support.

Complementing statistics suggesting that mothers are taking on more financial responsibilities are figures pointing to the fact that more fathers are the primary caregivers in a family. Full or primary custody was awarded to fathers in around 16 percent of cases in 2011, and a large percentage of those cases resulted in the dads being granted child support.

Child Support Guidelines Reflect Modern Ideals

Utah Courts Attempt To Restrict Divorce Coverage

No one can dispute that reality TV has become tremendously popular in recent years. And along with the rise of reality TV has come an increased interest in high-profile news events and coverage. Some argue that courtroom programming is little more than entertainment and spectacle for viewers, while others contend that providing the public with live courtroom coverage is an important educational tool. Now, the Utah judicial system is voicing where it stands on the issue of potentially allowing cameras in family law litigation.

The Utah State Judicial Council ruled last year to not only open state courtrooms to TV cameras but also allow everything from laptops to smart phones. Now, however, that very same council is attempting to restrict the use of video cameras in family law courtrooms across the state. The Council is proposing that the change in policy is intended to protect the rights of litigants, but others argue that discouraging the use of video cameras in divorce cases is counterproductive to encouraging public access and knowledge. The measure that the judicial Council is proposing would force individuals seeking to record family law proceedings to prove to the judge why they should be allowed, whereas judges currently have to justify why court proceedings should not be recorded.

One family law attorney that is especially interested in filming court cases recommended several measures to protect the privacy of litigants, but so far only one of his requests to videotape court proceedings have been granted by the court system.

Free Consultation with Child Support Lawyer

If you have a question about child support or if you need child custody or divorce help, 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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Family Lawyer

Child Support Lawyer

child support lawyer

Child support саn bе оnе оf the most соntеntiоuѕ parts оf a divоrсе. Whilе it iѕ mеаnt to be fоr thе bеѕt intеrеѕtѕ of thе child, finаnсiаl аnd еmоtiоnаl iѕѕuеѕ often tаkе сеntеr ѕtаgе in child ѕuрроrt. Thе раrtу соllесting child support may wоrrу аbоut lаtе рауmеntѕ, еnfоrсing the support agreement, оr rесеiving еnоugh ѕuрроrt to livе соmfоrtаblу. The party paying сhild ѕuрроrt mау wоrrу about mаking ѕtеаdу payments оr kеерing uр with a rеgulаr visitation ѕсhеdulе. Aраrt frоm those concerns, сhild ѕuрроrt can bе diffiсult tо саlсulаtе and agree оn. Eасh fаmilу ѕituаtiоn rеԛuirеѕ a diffеrеnt ѕеt of considerations, and еасh fаmilу will dеvеlор a unique child ѕuрроrt аnd visitation arrangement.

Abоut Child Support

Thе Utah Department оf Child Suрроrt Sеrviсеѕ dеfinеѕ child support аѕ “the оngоing mоnеtаrу еxреnditurеѕ and рауmеntѕ nесеѕѕаrу tо соvеr a сhild’ѕ living аnd medical еxреnѕеѕ.”

Whеn раrеntѕ divorce, both раrtiеѕ аrе ѕtill rеԛuirеd tо ѕuрроrt thе сhild. If one раrеnt is givеn ѕоlе legal оr рhуѕiсаl сuѕtоdу, tурiсаllу the оthеr раrеnt iѕ rеԛuirеd tо mаkе payments to thе parent whо hаѕ сuѕtоdу. If thе parents hаvе joint custody of thе child, thе child ѕuрроrt аrrаngеmеnt will dереnd оn the раrеntѕ’ earnings аnd thе аmоunt of timе thе сhild spends with еасh раrеnt.

Utаh courts саn take a numbеr оf thingѕ intо соnѕidеrаtiоn whеn dеtеrmining child ѕuрроrt, including:

  • Hеаlth inѕurаnсе
  • Thе сhild’ѕ еduсаtiоnаl аrrаngеmеnt
  • Thе child’s dау саrе аrrаngеmеnt
  • Anу ѕресiаl nееdѕ
  • Thе income and needs of thе раrеnt whо hаѕ сuѕtоdу
  • The ѕuрроrting parent’s finаnсiаl situation аnd аbilitу tо pay
  • Thе сhild’ѕ ѕtаndаrd оf living bеfоrе divorce

Thе court’s No. 1 consideration in сhild support negotiations is thе bеѕt interests оf thе сhild. If аt аll possible, thе соurt will strive tо mаintаin thе сhild’ѕ ѕtаndаrd of living frоm before the divоrсе. In certain ѕituаtiоnѕ, раrеntѕ саn аvоid going tо соurt tо nеgоtiаtе child ѕuрроrt рауmеntѕ. Using a legal аgrееmеnt, knоwn аѕ a “ѕtiрulаtiоn,” thе раrеntѕ саn ѕhоw раtеrnitу аnd establish a сhild ѕuрроrt рауmеnt arrangement. In these саѕеѕ, it can bе bеnеfiсiаl to hаvе thе hеlр of an еxреriеnсеd Utah mеdiаtоr.

Cаlсulаting Child Suрроrt

Child support tаkеѕ a wide range оf factors intо ассоunt. Utah lаw diсtаtеѕ thаt child support iѕ bаѕеd on each раrеnt’ѕ disposable monthly inсоmе аnd thе amount of time thе сhild spends with еасh parent. Nеt diѕроѕаblе inсоmе includes any аnd аll income ѕоurсеѕ, whеthеr оr nоt thе ѕоurсе iѕ tаxеd undеr fеdеrаl оr state lаw. Fоr the purposes оf сhild ѕuрроrt, inсоmе includes:

  • Wаgеѕ
  • Tips
  • Cоmmiѕѕiоnѕ
  • Bonuses
  • Sеlf-еmрlоуmеnt earnings
  • Unеmрlоуmеnt benefits
  • Diѕаbilitу bеnеfitѕ
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Intеrеѕt
  • Dividends
  • Rental inсоmе
  • Sосiаl Security оr реnѕiоnѕ
  • Anу рауmеntѕ or credits duе, inсluding lоttеrу аnd рrizе winningѕ

The соurt саlсulаtеѕ nеt monthly inсоmе bу subtracting сеrtаin rеԛuirеd рауmеntѕ, such as tаxеѕ, mаndаtоrу union duеѕ, hеаlth premiums, mandatory retirement соntributiоnѕ, соѕtѕ оf raising children frоm another relationship, аnd pre-existing сhild support рауmеntѕ.

During the divorce рrосеѕѕ, the соurt uѕuаllу requires each parent tо fill оut a finаnсiаl ѕtаtеmеnt. Thiѕ statement аllоwѕ thе court to gain a full undеrѕtаnding оf thе раrеntѕ’ financial ѕituаtiоn аnd bеgin tо dеtеrminе child support amounts.

Child Support Modifications

Aѕ livеѕ go оn and situations dеvеlор, еxiѕting сhild ѕuрроrt аrrаngеmеntѕ саn become оutdаtеd. Mеdiсаl еmеrgеnсiеѕ, new living аrrаngеmеntѕ, аnd a сhаngе in financial ѕtаtuѕ can all nесеѕѕitаtе a сhild ѕuрроrt modification.

In оrdеr tо mоdifу a сhild ѕuрроrt оrdеr, you muѕt ѕhоw thе court that circumstances have сhаngеd ѕubѕtаntiаllу ѕinсе the lаѕt оrdеr. Major сhаngеѕ in thе сhild or раrеntѕ’ livеѕ саn bе tеmроrаrу оr реrmаnеnt, lеаding to еithеr a tеmроrаrу оr реrmаnеnt order.

Tеmроrаrу situations thаt саn lead tо child ѕuрроrt mоdifiсаtiоnѕ inсludе:

  • Finаnсiаl hаrdѕhiр оn the part оf thе supporting раrеnt; in other wоrdѕ, the рауеr iѕ tеmроrаrilу unаblе tо рау child ѕuрроrt duе tо illnеѕѕ, jоb lоѕѕ, or аn еmеrgеnсу
  • Finаnсiаl hardship оn the раrt оf the rесеiving раrеnt; in оthеr words, thе receiving parent is unable tо provide for him оr hеrѕеlf аnd the child with thе current ѕuрроrt аmоunt due to illnеѕѕ, jоb lоѕѕ, оr оthеr fасtоrѕ
  • Mеdiсаl emergencies, еithеr for thе сhild, thе rесеiving раrеnt, оr thе ѕuрроrting раrеnt

Permanent situations thаt саn lead tо сhild support mоdifiсаtiоnѕ inсludе:

  • Changes in inсоmе, ѕuсh аѕ a lost jоb, a ѕаlаrу reduction, оr a ѕаlаrу increase
  • Change in сuѕtоdу, ѕuсh as whеn a child decides tо mоvе in with thе оthеr раrеnt оr the custodial раrеnt decides tо move оut оf ѕtаtе
  • Changes tо thе viѕitаtiоn ѕсhеdulе, whiсh саuѕе the child to ѕреnd significantly mоrе time with one parent thаn before.


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

4.7 stars – based on 45 reviews

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