Child support is a hot topic in almost every divorce. I have yet to have a client who does not want to ensure that their children receive all of the support they need, at the same time some custodial parents want too much child support so they can waste it on themselves. Here are a few things to know about child support before you sign a divorce decree.
Child Support is a Child’s Right
First, child support is your children’s right. It is not a right that is controlled by your ex-spouse. This is good and bad. The good news is, your ex-spouse cannot dictate how much support will be. The bad news is your ex-spouse cannot waive child support either. The state of Utah views child support as the children’s right to support, and it has an administrative agency that works hard to ensure children receive the proper amount of support.
Child Support Calculation
Second, child support is calculated based on your gross income for a 40 hour/week job. Gross income means the amount you earn before taxes. It is also based on the custodial parent’s gross income and how many overnights the non-custodial parent has. In cases where a parent is not working or is underemployed, an income can be imputed based on their ability to earn. Other factors can also be considered. All of that information is placed in a calculator provided by the state of Utah. It spits out a number for how much each parent is responsible for the support of the children. The non-custodial parent then pays that amount in child support.
Can You Change Child Support?
Child support can be changed if certain criteria are met. Usually, if the most recent child support order is less than three (3) years old then the person seeking to modify child support would need to show a change in income that results in a 30% change in child support. Once the most recent child support order is more than three (3) years old, a person can seek to modify child support by showing a change in income that results in only a 10% change in child support. Also, as each child in the family graduates from high school or turns 18 (whichever is later), child support would automatically reduce as well.
Even though the state of Utah has outlined a specific formula for calculating child support, a savvy attorney can find ways to manipulate that calculation to lower or raise child support, depending on which direction you want child support to go. No matter what, consult a competent family law attorney before signing any kind of divorce decree to be sure you understand everything that you are signing.
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