The successful enforcement of court orders for child custody, alimony, and child support can be highly complex, even in cases where both parties live in the state of Utah. If your ex-husband or ex-wife resides in another state, you’ll need to go through a special process called “registering a foreign order” before the order is considered valid and enforceable. In this blog post, child support lawyer Darwin Overson will explain the steps to registering a foreign order in Utah, including which forms you’ll need to complete, and how to make modifications to existing orders.
Steps to Registering a Foreign Court Order
In this context, the term “foreign” has nothing to do with nationality or country of origin. Any court order issued outside the state of Utah is considered foreign, even if it was issued mere miles from Utah’s borders. Because Utah’s judiciary does not have jurisdiction over matters which were handled outside the state, you will need to register any foreign order before it can be legally enforced here.
While this concept applies to orders pertaining to child support, child custody, parent time, and alimony payments, the specific forms you use will vary depending on which of these matters the order involves. While the forms vary, the general registration procedures are very similar.
First, you will need to gather the appropriate forms, which are outlined in the next section. Once you have prepared all of the supporting paperwork, you will need to file a formal Request to Register. The Request must be filed with the appropriate judicial services representative, in the county where your children or former spouse lives, depending on the situation.
The person being served with the Request has 20 days to respond by requesting a hearing. Once the order is confirmed by the judge, you must serve another document called a Notice of Confirmation on the other party.
In order to avoid missing a deadline, forgetting a form, or omitting an important piece of information, you should have an experienced family law attorney handle your legal matter. Your attorney can also protect your best interests if a hearing should become necessary.
Support and Child Custody Forms
There are four different sets of forms:
- Custody — Requesting Registration
- Civil Coversheet
- Request to Register a Foreign Child Custody or Parent Time Order
- Non-Public Information Forms (e.g. Personal Information)
- Notice of Registration
- Confirmation of Registration
- Custody — Opposing Registration
- Request for Hearing
- Notice of Hearing
- Non-Public Information Forms
- Support — Requesting Registration
- Support — Opposing Registration
The forms for requesting registration of custody orders are very similar to those for requesting registration of support orders, with two key differences where support orders are concerned:
- The forms also include an Affidavit of Arrears.
- The “Request to Register a Foreign Child Custody or Parent Time Order” is instead called the “Request to Register a Foreign Support or Income-Withholding Order.”
The forms for opposing registration of support are identical to the forms for opposing registration of child custody.
“Support” includes child support and spousal support, more commonly known as alimony.
How to Modify a Registered Order: Motions vs. Petitions
Once the order has been registered and confirmed as an enforceable Utah judgment, you may be able to modify its terms. However, there are limits on the types of circumstances which will allow for a modification. In turn, where child support is concerned, those circumstances will influence whether you must request modification through a motion or a petition.
In both cases, the following statements must hold true:
- At least three years must have passed since the order was first entered.
- There is a minimum 10% difference between the originally ordered support amount, and the amount required under Utah’s guidelines.
- This difference is permanent. A temporary flux in circumstances is not eligible.
The difference is that you must use a motion if your proposed amount matches the state’s guidelines, whereas the petition is for cases where the proposed amount does not match the guidelines. These guidelines are contained in the Utah Child Support Act under Part 3 (Tables), with one table for both parents’ “base combined child support obligation,” and another table for low income “obligor parents” (i.e. the parent who makes the payments).
The rules for modifying child support are further detailed at Utah Judicial Code §78B-12-210 (Application of guidelines — Use of ordered child support).
You may also be able to modify a registered child custody order. However, as with child support, there are limited circumstances where this is permissible. The court’s main concern is ensuring that the modification(s) you request will actually serve your child’s best interests. If your request seems like it will worsen your child’s quality of life, the court will not allow it.
The rules for modifying child custody are further detailed at Utah Code, Husband and Wife, §30-3-10.4 (Modification or termination of order) and §30-3-10.8 (Parenting plan — Filing — Modifications). A custody attorney can help you understand the rules and handle the modification process.
If you need assistance with any of these matters, alimony lawyer Darwin Overson may be able to help. To set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation, call Darwin today at (801) 758-2287.