Salt Lake City Attorneys Walk You Through the Utah Child Support Process
Many calculations are cut-and-dried, but the court listens to mitigating circumstances
In Utah, all minors are entitled to parental support until they turn 18, complete high school or are emancipated by marriage or a court order, whichever comes later.
Generally, child support is set according to state guidelines and established by a divorce court order governing how and when child support payments are made. However the court can order a different amount if either of the parties seeks a different amount and demonstrates good reasons for the amount requested. At Huntsman | Lofgran, our lawyers know what the court looks for and which arguments it is more likely to consider.
Serving all Utah with a simple approach in the face of complex accounting
Child support boils down to three simple components:
- Base child support — This figure considers the parents’ combined monthly adjusted gross income and the number of children being supported. The income from each parent is limited to the equivalent of one full-time job; overtime and additional part-time jobs are not calculated. Case assistance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are not considered as income, but pension payouts, Social Security benefits, workers’ compensation payments and disability insurance benefits are.
- Medical care — If a health insurance policy is reasonably available, the cost of a minor child’s portion of the premium is shared equally by the parents, as is the cost of any uninsured medical expenses, including deductibles and copayments.
- Childcare expenses — Parents must also share work-related childcare expenses equally.
However, as with many family law issues, things can get complicated, depending on whether legal or physical custody is awarded jointly and the number of “overnights” accorded to each spouse — and if either spouse must care for children from a previous marriage, as well.
Alterations to the formula
The court may amend the terms of child support that the formula determines if it finds a good case can be made because of:
- The standard of living and situation of the parents and child
- The relative wealth and income of the parents and child
- The ability of the noncustodial parent to earn income
- The ability of the custodial parent to earn income
- The ability of an incapacitated adult child to earn an income, or other benefits received by the adult child or on the adult child’s behalf, including Supplemental Security Income
- The needs of each parent and the child
- The ages of the parents and child
- The responsibilities of the parents for the support of others
Modifying and enforcing child support
Court orders for child support must be followed to the letter. Custodial parents may not withhold parent time, even if child support is not being paid, nor may a parent withhold child support if parent time is being denied. If either parent experiences difficulties regarding child support, the court order can be modified — or enforced.
A word about tax exemptions for child support
Both parents cannot claim a child as a dependent in the same tax year — the Internal Revenue Service investigates this and may impose penalties. Your child support order establishes which of you may claim the child as a dependent for federal and state income tax purposes, but:
- The court may not award an exemption to a parent unless the award results in a tax benefit for that parent.
- The court does not award an exemption to the noncustodial parent if that parent is not current on child support payments.
Retain a firm that protects your and your child’s best interests when it comes to child support
There are significant financial ramifications to Utah child support awards, some of which you may not see coming until after the fact. At Huntsman | Lofgran in Salt Lake City, our legal team knows what to watch for in child support deliberations, and we work that knowledge into our overall strategy in promoting your and your child’s best interests. Call us at 801.838.8900 or contact us online.