Child support can be granted during divorce, temporary separation, or as separate maintenance. Generally speaking, there is a legal duty for parents to support their children under the age of 18 but there are exceptions, such as if the child is emancipated or if they have a disability which means they will remain dependent even after turning 18.
The Utah guidelines determine all aspects of child support. The parent who has custody is paid child support by the non-custodial parent and is based on income. The three components of this payment include base child support, medical expenses, and child care expenses. In general, the portion of health insurance policy premiums attributed to the child(ren) is split between the parents in addition to uninsured medical expenses. As well, work-related child care expenses are also shared between the two.
Child support is calculated by accounting for the total gross income of both parents, along with the number of overnights spent in the household of each parent. Parents are required to provide proof that their income matches the amount inputted in the child support calculator, such as with pay stubs and copies of the most recent tax returns. If a parent has a reasonable explanation for why this information is not available, the other party can file a Declaration of Other Party’s Earnings to explain the income, similar to acting as a witness for the other person. In cases where one parent doesn’t work, the Court can assume the amount of a party’s earning potential based on their prior work history and an assumed 40-hour workweek. If there is no recent work history information to rely upon, or if there isn’t a specific occupation the party has had, then the Court’s assumption will be based on the federal minimum wage for a 40-hour workweek. This is how the Court accounts for the fact that the other parent can reasonably work, however, this is not done in every circumstance. Exceptions are made in the following cases of a non-temporary nature:
- The cost of childcare would equal, or almost equal, the amount of money earned by the parent with custody
- If the party has a physical or mental condition preventing them from obtaining and/or keeping a minimum wage position
- The party is undergoing training to establish basic job skills, or
- A child has unique needs requiring the parent with custody to care for them in the home
How many overnights the child(ren) spend in the parents’ respective homes also has an effect on how much child support is paid. There are three basic scenarios in terms of physical custody:
- If the child spends a minimum of 111 nights per year in the homes of each parent, this is known as joint physical custody.
- If the child spends over 225 nights per year in one parent’s home, this is sole physical custody.
- If there is more than one child and some live with one parent and some with the other parent, this is split custody.
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