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How to Calculate Child Support in a Utah Divorce?

(Video above: Utah attorney, Trevor Osborn, explains how to calculate the amount of child support you be paying or receiving in your Utah divorce or Utah custody case). 

The easiest way to calculate child support is to use the child support calculator provided on the Office of Recovery Services’ (ORS) website, HERE.  If you’re unsure of how to go about using this calculator, this article will help you.

In Utah, there’s a number of factors the court will consider when determining how much child support you will have to pay, or how much child support you will receive in your divorce or custody battle.  The court will consider (1) the income of both of the parties; (2) the number of children born to both of the parents; (3) the type of physical custody awarded; (4) whether one of the parties has another child support or alimony obligation in a different case; (5) whether there are other children currently living with one of the parents whom that parent is obligated to support.  This article will discuss each of these factors in more detail below.

The Parties’ Income.

We consider the income of both of the parties when calculating child support:  the party paying child support and the party receiving child support.

Unemployed Parent.  Occasionally, one of the parents is unemployed and therefore does not have any income.  When this occurs, the court can impute income–this means that the court will look at the work history and employable skills of that unemployed parent to determine the amount of income the parent is capable of earning.  For example, if the parent was previously employed making $60,000 per year, the court may determine that the parent presently has the ability to make $60,000 per year, and then court will use this hypothetical figure to calculate the amount of child support owed/received.

Unemployed with No Previous Work History.  If the parent doesn’t have any previous work history or any employable skills, the court will likely determine that the parent has the ability to make at least minimum wage.

Inconsistent Income.  Sometimes a parent is employed in a position where their income is dependent upon commissions, where their work is seasonal, or where for any other reason their income fluctuates month to month or year to year.  In this case, the court may look at the parent’s salary over  the past several years to determine an average salary that the parent will be held to for the purposes of calculating child support.

Second Job or Overtime Pay.  Generally, child support is calculated based on a parent’s 40 hour work week.  Overtime pay and income from a second job can be considered when calculating child support, but generally is not.

Number of children that the parties have together.

The number of children born to both of the parents has one of the most significant impacts on the amount of child support that will be paid/received.  Of course, if there are more children born to the parents, the amount of child support paid/received will be higher.

Type of physical custody awarded.

The type of physical custody awarded to the parents is another factor will significantly impact the amount of child support paid/received.

Joint Physical Custody.  Joint physical custody is determined by the number of overnights each year that the children spend with each of the parents.  The amount of child support will fluctuate depending on the number of overnights the child spends with each of the parents.  For example, in a joint custody situation, if a child spends 111 overnights with one parent and 254 overnights with the other parent the child support obligation will be much higher than if the child spends 183 overnights with one parent and 182 overnights with the other parent.

Primary Physical Custody.  If one party is awarded primary physical custody then we no longer consider the amount of overnights the children spend with each of the parents and we calculate child support based only on the fact that primary physical custody has been awarded.

Previous Child Support or Alimony Obligation in a Different Case.

The court will consider the amount of child support or alimony (spousal support) that one of the parents has to pay in another, different case when calculating the child support owed/received in your case.

Obligation to Children in the Present Home.

If one of parents has been remarried and there are other children of that marriage living in that parent’s home, the court will consider the financial obligation that parent owes to those children when calculating child support.

You can find more information in our Utah family law library.  Or contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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