How Do You Calculate Child Support in Utah?
If you are going through a divorce or custody case in Utah one parent will likely be ordered to pay child support. This article explains how the court decides who has to pay child support and how much.
If a parent has sole physical custody of a child then the noncustodial parent will have to pay child support based on each parent’s income. Child support is calculated based on a mathematical formula found in the Utah Code. You can access an online calculator which gives you an estimate of what the noncustodial parent will have to pay depending on how much each parent makes.
If the parents share joint custody of their children then depending upon how much each parent makes and the number of overnights they have with their child(ren) one or the other may or may not have to pay child support under the state calculator. “Joint physical custody” means a child stays with each parent overnight for more than 30% of the year (111 overnights), and both parents contribute to the expenses of the child in addition to paying child support.
If the parents are sharing equal amounts of parent-time and have similar incomes it is possible neither parent will owe the other child support. But if one parent has significantly more overnights than the other and/or makes more money then it is possible that parent may have to pay child support. Generally child support awards under the joint custody guidelines are lower than the sole custody guidelines because the parents are sharing more of the day-to-day expenses of raising a child.
If parents have more than one child and each parent has sole custody of at least one child then you have a “split” custody arrangement. Based on the number of children in each parent’s custody and their incomes the state calculator will tell you who has to pay child support and how much.
Credits for Child Support
Under certain circumstances a parent may receive a “credit” in the child support calculator that lowers the amount they are expected to pay. For example, if a parent is already paying alimony or child support as part of a prior court proceeding they may be allowed to deduct those payments from their income for the purpose of calculating their new child support obligation. Also if a parent is responsible for supporting other children they may receive a credit for that even if they are not actually paying child support for them.
Medical and Daycare Expenses
In addition to child support, the Court will typically require each parent to pay 1/2 of their children’s reasonable and necessary medical expenses (including their portion of the family health insurance premium) and 1/2 of reasonable work-related daycare expenses. Unless the parents are sharing joint physical custody then the noncustodial parent is generally not required to contribute to other expenses such as clothing, food, school fees, extracurricular activity fees, etc. on top of child support and 1/2 of medical and daycare expenses. If the parents are sharing joint physical custody then the court has discretion to require parents to share expenses besides just medical and daycare expenses.
Duration of Child Support
Unless the court orders otherwise, child support generally lasts until each child turns 18 or has completed high school during their regular and expected year of graduation, whichever occurs last. In some cases the court may order child support to continue past age 18 if a child is disabled.
As part of a support and custody order the court will often decide which parent gets to claim a child for tax purposes. The court considers several factors in making this determination such as the relative contribution of each parent to the cost of raising the child, their parent-time and custody schedule, and the financial benefit each parent would reap depending on who claims the child. Commonly courts will try to equally divide this benefit such as by allowing parents to claim a child in alternating years. However, if a parent is not current on child support by the end of the year that parent may not be allowed to claim any children for tax purposes.
Modifying Child Support
Child support can be modified every three years or earlier if there has been a substantial change in circumstance (e.g. a drastic increase or decrease in income, a job loss, a change in custody, a change in the child’s health, etc.).
Do you have questions about child support? Give the experienced family attorneys at Wiser Law a call today at 855-254-2600.