Children require financial support, regardless of whether their parents stay married. If you are a parent going through a divorce in Utah, you probably have many questions and concerns about how a child support plan for your son or daughter will be created and enforced. For example, how are child support payments calculated? What happens if your former spouse stops paying child support in full and on time? What if you or your ex-wife or ex-husband has a change in financial circumstances, and needs to modify an existing child support arrangement? What if you and your spouse cannot agree on how much child support should be paid?
With years of experience assisting divorced men and women resolve child support disputes and enforce support orders, Utah child support lawyer Rex Bray can help you and your spouse bring your issue to a smooth resolution that protects your child’s best interests. Regardless of which stage you have reached in the dispute or support determination process, Rex Bray can answer your questions, protect your rights as a mother or father, and help ensure that your spouse complies with court orders. If you live in Utah and need help with a legal matter related to child support, call Rex Bray at (801) 708-0913 today for a free legal consultation.
How is Child Support Calculated in Utah?
Utah child support is primarily calculated based on a mathematical table located at Utah Code § 78B-12-301. This table is known as the “base combined child support obligation table.” The table applies to both parents regardless of gender, and works by comparing monthly combined adjusted gross income against the total number of children involved in the support proceedings.
The table has four basic purposes:
- To establish support orders entered on or after January 1, 2008.
- To modify support orders entered on or after January 1, 2008.
- To modify temporary support orders established on or prior to December 31, 2007, provided the new order was entered on or prior to January 1, 2008.
- To modify final support orders entered on or prior to December 31, 2007, provided the modification was made on or after January 1, 2010.
However, it isn’t only this table which impacts the final determination. Other factors also play a significant role in calculating just how much child support a parent should be ordered to pay. For example, the courts will also consider variables such as:
- Medical Expenses – Does your child have a health issue, medical condition, or disability which requires additional financial support?
- Child Custody Arrangements – What sort of child custody arrangement do you have with your spouse? If you’re sharing joint custody, exactly how many nights per year does your child spend in each of your households? If you have multiple children and have a split custody arrangement, how many children do each of you have custody over?
- General Child Care Expenses – Child care expenses can vary greatly depending on factors like the ages and total number of children, as well as financial factors affecting the parents. As a result, child care expense considerations can be very different from one family to the next. Here are some examples of questions the court may consider:
- What sort of nutrition, clothing, and school supplies will your child need based on his or her age?
- Are you responsible for supporting any additional children who aren’t included in the current support action?
- Are you currently receiving or paying alimony?
The Utah Department of Human Services provides a free-to-use child support calculator which prompts users to enter information such as:
- The gross monthly income of the mother and father.
- The total number of children, whether adopted or biological.
- Any alimony payments which are also being made.
- For joint custody cases, how many nights per year the child spends with each parent.
The calculator can be a useful starting point. However, while the calculator can give you an approximate estimate, remember that only a judge can make the official determination.
Additionally, there are a few final points to make regarding the parameters and limitations of the base support table:
- The table only goes up to six children. If you have more than six children, additional payment can be ordered. Pursuant to Utah Code § 78B-12-205, “The amount ordered may not be less than the amount which would be ordered for up to six children.”
- If you have an incapacitated adult child who needs help with self-care, anything that the adult child can add to his or her own support may justify reducing the total support ordered, with some exceptions.
What Can I Do if I Am Not Receiving Child Support From My Ex?
If your ex-wife or ex-husband stops paying court-ordered child support, or simply never complies with the support order to begin with, it can put you into an extremely stressful, frustrating, and difficult position, both financially and emotionally speaking. Nonetheless, it is crucial that you avoid making any rash or hasty decisions, and instead, discuss the issue with a Utah child support dispute lawyer. If you attempt to pressure or retaliate against your former spouse, you could wind up unintentionally breaking the law, which will simply create more problems than it solves.
Many people wrongly assume that if their former spouse stops meeting their support obligations, they are free to deny their ex-wife or ex-husband visitation rights in order to force them to comply. While taking such an action may seem fair or logical to you, denying visitation rights on the basis of child support nonpayment is actually illegal, and can lead to harsh consequences for you. The Utah court website puts in plain terms: “All parties must obey court orders. Custodial parents may not withhold parent time, even if child support is not being paid.” Conversely, “A parent may not withhold child support even if parent time is being denied.”
If you withhold parent time in response to missed payments, you are effectively doing the same thing as your ex-spouse – defying court orders – and instead of resolving the issue, your noncompliance will simply undermine your own case. Depending on the situation, you could even be found in contempt of court, which can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 30 days in the Salt Lake County Jail (or other county jails, depending on where you live).
If your ex-husband or ex-wife stops paying their child support, the answer is not to deny visitation, but to work with an experienced family law attorney in Salt Lake City, who can help you file a motion to enforce the judgment. This is known in Utah as a “motion to enforce a domestic order.” Provided at least 60 days have passed since the last payment was made, the court may assume the authority to suspend your ex-wife or -husband’s driver’s license, as well as any special occupational licenses, such as a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) for professional truckers.
The exact procedures for modifying child support in Utah differ based on which judicial district you live in, so be sure to consult with a lawyer for child support matters to ensure that you take the appropriate steps.
Salt Lake City Child Support Lawyer for Men and Women
If you’re a parent who’s filing for divorce and needs help calculating child support, or if you have already gotten divorced and now need assistance enforcing a support order, turn to child support attorney Rex Bray for aggressive and efficient legal representation. He will fight to protect you and your child’s financial interests, and can help you enforce court-ordered judgments if your ex-spouse stops paying.
If you need assistance with any of these issues, call Utah child support attorney Rex Bray at (801) 708-0913 right away to arrange for a private case evaluation, free of charge. Our law firm serves men and women throughout the state of Utah.