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Utah Child Support Attorney - Salt Lake Divorce Lawyer

Child support can be a hotly contested issue in a Utah divorce case. The issues involved can be complex. Having the assistance of an experienced Utah divorce attorney can be critical. Based in Salt Lake City, we provide legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with a Utah divorce lawyer in Salt Lake City.

Utah Child Support Guidelines

Utah family law statutes establish guidelines that are to be used in determining the amount of child support to be awarded in a Utah divorce or custody case. These guidelines are intended to make child support awards easy to determine and more uniform and predictable. These guidelines are generally based on the income of both parents, the number of children involved, other children a parent may have obligations to, and the custody split between the two parents (joint custody, 60/40, etc.).

In theory, a parent should be able to determine the appropriate child support amount by filling in numbers in an online form, and clicking a few buttons. In practice, the determination of child support can involve complex litigation.

When one parent is self-employed, owns a business, or is employed by a family-owned business, it is common for there to be allegations that the parent is hiding income, under-reporting income, or intentionally reducing the amount of income being earned - for the purpose of reducing the amount of a child support award. While it is easy to make such allegations, proving the allegations or responding to the allegations can be complicated. An experienced family law and divorce attorney on your side can be invaluable.

Determining a Utah Child Support Order if the Guidelines are Rebutted

While the Utah child support guidelines are presumed to apply, a court may deviate from those guideline amounts if it is determined that the evidence is sufficient to rebut the guidelines. In such cases, the court may then consider any relevant factors in determining an appropriate child support order, but must consider at least the following:

  • the relative wealth and income of both parties;
  • the standard of living and situation of both parties;
  • the ability of the obligee (the person receiving child support) to earn;
  • the ability of the obligor (the person paying child support) to earn;
  • the needs of the obligee, the obligor, and the child;
  • the ages of the parties; and
  • the responsibilities of either the obligor or the obligee to provide for the support of others.
In cases where a support order may apply to an incapacitated adult child, the court should also consider the ability of that adult child to earn an income as well as other benefits received by the adult child (including Supplemental Security Income).

Continuing Court Jurisdiction to Modify Child Support

Utah laws governing child support give a divorce court continuing jurisdiction over a divorce case, even after a final divorce decree has entered. This allows the court to make adjustments in child support orders in the event that circumstances change following the final decree, and to enforce payment of child support obligations.

In order to obtain a modification of a child support order, the party seeking modification will have to show a change in circumstances sufficient to justify a modification of the award. This often involves evidence of a substantial increase or decrease in income.

Enforcing Child Support Orders in Utah

Utah's Office of Recovery Services (ORS) is often involved in collecting child support. Having an automatic payment taken from the obligor's paycheck (garnishment) can help ensure timely payment of the support. It can also protect the obligor from allegations by an ex-spouse that payments are not being made. There are fees for having ORS put a garnishment in place. These fees do not increase the payments made by the obligor, but are instead taken from what is received by the recipient parent.

In the event that a parent fails to make the required child support payments, either voluntarily or through an ORS garnishment, Utah law allows a divorce court to enter an order to show cause (OSC) requiring the obligor to appear in court and provide a satisfactory explanation as to why child support payments have not been made. If the court determines that the obligor's explanation is not satisfactory, the court may hold that party in contempt and order jail time as a sanction.

Conditions that May Terminate Child Support in Utah

A Utah divorce decree may require that child support continue to be paid even after the child being supported reaches the age of 18. If it is anticipated that a child will not graduate from high school before turning 18, it is common for a divorce decree to require child support to continue until the child's normal expected graduation date. In other cases, a court may order that a parent continue to provide support for a child or pay for educational expenses for a child who continues on to college.

Finding a Utah Divorce Attorney in Salt Lake City

Based in Salt Lake City, our family law and divorce attorneys provide legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation in regard to alimony or divorce.

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