Divorce can be difficult, stressful, and financially taxing. When you have children, the process can be doubly so. You want to know that your custody agreements are settled, that your child support orders are fair, and that you and your child or children are provided with a safe, comfortable lifestyle. Depending on your situation, you may also want to know that the support you provide to your former spouse isn’t being misused and is actually going to your kids.
At Christensen Law, we know there’s a lot to worry about. Whether you are just beginning to understand Utah’s child support laws, or if you want expert help revisiting your existing orders, our compassionate family lawyers will provide the help you need. It’s crucial that you have a seasoned child support attorney on your side. Our attorneys at Christensen Law have over twenty-five years of courtroom experience.
After a quarter-century on the job, we understand the intricacies of Utah state law, and will explain your choices to you plainly and accurately. Contact us at (801) 303-5800 today to schedule a free, confidential consultation. The first step to peace of mind is getting clear information and a clear roadmap of your case. Let Christensen Law firm help you today.
How Is Utah Child Support Calculated?
Depending on where you are in the divorce process, you may need basic information on how child support is usually calculated in Utah. Under state law, parents have a legal duty to support their children financially. Just how much money makes up that support depends on the parents’ income.
The court follows standard guidelines after calculating both parties’ gross income. According to UT Code § 78B-12-203 (2018), gross income includes income from almost any source, which can include:
- Trust income
- Capital gains
- Social Security benefits
Depending on your and your ex’s financial situation, calculating the gross income can be simple or very complicated. That’s why it’s important to have an attorney who has ample experience with the process.
If one of the parents involved is unemployed or pretends to make less money for the purposes of securing a lower child support payment, the court may “impute” their income. Sometimes, the court will calculate a payment based on the parent earning at least minimum wage. At other times, they may use evidence of past employment to calculate a fair total.
From the gross income, Utah uses a table to calculate the minimum support your child or children should receive. The table lists minimums. The agreement could be to pay more, but it can’t be for less. The total will be divided by the parents according to their relative income. Finally, the allocation of the calculated total child support payments will depend on your custody agreement and whether you have sole, joint, or split custody.
Can Child Support Amounts Be Changed?
In short, yes. After you have consented to a child support agreement or received orders from a court, you can ask the court to revisit your child support if your circumstances change. If you’re within certain time limits, you can use appeals and objections to formally dispute your current situation. It’s to your advantage to start your appeal or objection as soon as possible. You don’t have much time to begin the process.
Often, your family law case will start out with a commissioner making recommendations based on written affidavits and short arguments. The commissioner’s process is usually quicker than a full court hearing. You can object to their recommendation if you disagree with it. From there, your case will be reviewed by a judge. Your next option would be an appeal. Our talented family lawyers at Christensen Law can evaluate your current orders and advise you whether you are likely to receive more advantageous ones in an appeal or objection.
If your child support has been settled long enough to disallow an objection or appeal, you may still be able to modify your order. If it’s been more than three years since your order, you can use a motion or petition to modify the child support. You’ll have to show that there’s a significant difference between your current support amount and the support amount under the guidelines. You’ll also have to show that the difference isn’t temporary. Alternatively, you can file a petition to change the amount if it’s been less than three years and there’s a significant change in custody, or in your or your ex’s wealth or income.
Utah Child Support FAQs
How long do I have to object or appeal my child support order?
It depends. If you received a commissioner’s recommendation, you have to object within 14 days. If you received a judge’s decision that is a final order, you can appeal within 30 days. A competent lawyer will advise you about your options and discuss with you the other ways you can modify your child support agreement if you miss the deadline.
Are there reasons other than custody and income changes that can change your child support situation?
Yes. Other reasons to change the child support agreement include:
- Changes in a parent’s employment potential or ability to earn
- Changes in your child’s medical needs
- Changes in the legal responsibilities of one parent to support others
You can check with your lawyer to see if any of these might apply to you or if you otherwise qualify.
What if my child’s other parent lives in another state?
If you need child support from a parent who lives out of state, you may have to prove that Utah has jurisdiction over them. At Christensen Law, we have experience in proving jurisdiction and can advise you how we’ll do it.
Contact Christensen Law for a Free Consultation
We value our relationship with our clients and know that the key to our success is honest, compassionate advice. We know the law inside and out and are ready to explain it to you. You need a dedicated Utah family lawyer on your side to protect your interests. Our attorneys at Christensen Law are just that. Call us at (801) 303-5800 or fill out our free legal consultation form.