Calculating child support in a Utah divorce case

Utah calculates child support based off of both parents’ income, as well as a variety of other factors that help to minimize financial distress during a divorce.

Parents in Utah and across the country have a joint responsibility to emotionally and financially support their children, regardless of whether they are married, separated or divorced. Going through a divorce can be financially straining on everyone involved, especially children. Child support can help to minimize the financial gap and change in lifestyle that children may be exposed to in a time of divorce and separation.

Income shares model of child support

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Utah uses an income shares model of calculating child support. This model stems from the belief that children should be able to enjoy the same quality of life that they would have been exposed to if their parents had stayed together. Both parents have an obligation to share the financial duties that comes with raising children. Rather than base the child support payment on the non-custodial parent's income alone, both parents' income are considered when determining a child support amount.

Child support amount: More than just income

Although child support is based off parents' income, there are several factors that Utah courts consider before determining the final amount, as reported by the Utah Child Support Act. These include:

  • Any work-related child care costs, such as day care, is split by both parents.
  • The ability of each party to hold a job and his or her potential income.
  • Each parent's age, as well as the ages of the children involved.
  • Whether either parent is supporting any other children.
  • The standard of living that was achieved during the relationship.
  • How much time the child spends with each parent. Different parenting schedules may constitute different amounts of support.

The judge presiding over the case will often use his or her discretion when considering these factors in each unique case.

Modification

Once a child support amount is ordered by the court it is not set in stone, according to the Office of Child Support Enforcement. Different life circumstances occur and modification of a child support order may be required. In order to qualify for modification, however, the change in child support amount must be at least 10 percent of the current amount. If the order is not at least three years old, the party applying for modification must prove that a significant life change has occurred. This change must result in a change of at least 15 percent of the total amount.

Standing up for your child's rights

Whether you are going through a divorce and need to establish child support or you wish to modify your previously ordered child support amount, an established attorney may be helpful. A family divorce lawyer in Ogden or Park City may be able to answer your questions and help you explore your options when it comes to getting your children the child support money they need and deserve.