Very few legal issues impact a parent’s life as much as child support. Child support can affect a wide range of other issues when it comes to raising a child or children. Thus, it is important to know what the applicable laws says about child support and what you may be required to do for child support.

If you reside in Utah, then the Office of Recovery Services (ORS), which is a part of the Utah Department of Human Services, can educate you about your rights and obligations under child support laws.

Utah Family Law: Who Needs to Pay Child Support?

Generally, the obligation for child support falls on the parent who does not have physical custody. If you share physical custody with the other parent, you may still be required to pay some sort of child support if you do not have the child at least half of the time.

Child support can sometimes also be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the specific needs involved as well as the living arrangement between the child and the parents. Child support calculations may be based on a number of different factors, which can include:

  • The income level of the paying parent as well as the other party involved (the “custodial parent”);
  • Whether the child has any special considerations or needs;
  • Whether multiple children are involved;
  • The geographic location where the child is being raised (costs of living may be higher or lower);
  • The history of past child support payments and arrangements; and/or 
    • The courts may often lower or raise child support amounts based on previous amounts.
  • Academic, educational, and extracurricular needs of the child or children.

Utah Family Law: How Can I Get Child Support?

You can ask for child support by filling out forms in your local court, which is what you should do if you are also filing for divorce or custody. Otherwise, you can apply for child support services through the Utah Department of Human Services. When applying you will need to provide information about yourself, the other parent, and the child, such as Social Security numbers and addresses.

You should also send in any copies of birth certificates if the child was born outside of Utah, financial information for both you and the other parent, and copies of any documents regarding paternity.

Utah Family Law: Can I Face Consequences For Not Paying Child Support?

If you are not paying child support, the court can find you in contempt and fine you. In serious or severe cases, jail time can sometimes result due to outstanding payments. Usually, before it gets to that level of seriousness, the court will just have the money taken from your check directly.

The Office of Recovery Services can also help you receive child support by taking the money from the non-paying parent’s bank account, lottery winnings or tax refunds. Your personal property, real property, securities, and other assets can have a lien put up against it for the amount you owe. Credit scores can be impacted and your driver’s license can be suspended.

Utah Family Law: What is Wage Garnishment?

As mentioned, courts will sometimes take child support payments directly from the paying parent’s paycheck. This is known as “wage garnishment”, and is typically ordered when the paying parent has not kept up with the regular child support payments.

Under a wage garnishment order, the paying parent’s employer will be directed to set aside a portion of the parent’s paycheck, which will be used for the child support payments. The payments may go directly to the court, or in some cases, they may be processed through an agency that specifically handles those types of financial arrangements. In some cases, there may be ways to file to stop wage garnishment, depending on the situation.

Utah Family Law: Will I Lose My Visitation For Not Paying?

Child visitation and child support are two different legal issues. This means that nonpayment of child support should not necessarily affect your visitation rights. You may be able ask the court to enforce your visitation order if the other parent is being vindictive and refusing to let you see your kids because of nonpayment.

Utah Family Law: How Can I Avoid Paying Child Support?

There are legal ways that you can end child support. The most straightforward way to stop paying child support is to prove that you are not the kid’s parent. If you voluntarily established paternity, you have 60 days under Utah child support laws to take that back and prove that you are not the parent through a paternity test. You can also reach an agreement with the other parent but have to file that agreement with the court.

Otherwise, the parent paying child support will need to wait until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school (whichever happens later). But if the child marries, no longer has a disability (which was the basis of child support) or dies, then child support will automatically end.

Where Can You Find the Right Utah Family Lawyer?

Having legal is extremely important for child support cases. You do not want to go to court unprepared, especially if the other parent has a lawyer and you do not have one. Thus, you should contact a Utah child support lawyer if you are dealing with a child support case.