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Utah child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this Utah child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is Utah child support determined?

In Utah, either or both parents may be ordered to pay child support payments, including medical and dental expenses and health insurance. The courts will also order the parents to share day care and childcare expenses while the custodial parent is working or undergoing any training.

There are official Utah Child Support guidelines, designed to be reasonable and in the best interests of the child, that the courts use to help determine the correct amount of child support. The guidelines will be followed, unless the parents have agreed to a different child support amount, or the courts determine the guidelines are unjust for a particular case.

Factors for deviating from the guidelines include:

  • the standard of living and the situation of the parties
  • the relative wealth and income of the parents
  • the earning power of each parent
  • the needs of the parents and the child
  • the ages of all involved
  • any responsibility of either parent to support others

The state guidelines are generally based on a percentage of the total gross income of both parents, the number of children to be supported and the percentage each parent contributes to the total gross income.

At what age does child support payments end?

Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 18 years of age or the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. A child will also automatically be ineligible for child support if that child marries, is removed from disability status by a court order, or the child dies.

Utah's custody guidelines:

Generally, the parents agree upon decisions about parenting and custody. If there is no agreement between the parents, then the courts will make these decisions.

In Utah, joint or sole custody may be awarded based on the best interests of the child and the following factors:

  • which parent is the primary care giver
  • the past conduct and the moral standards of the parents
  • the welfare of the child
  • the child’s preference if they are at least 12 years of age
  • which parent is likely to act in the best interests of the child
  • which parent is likely to allow frequent and on-going contact between the child and the other parent

If the other spouse has abandoned a spouse, the court is likely to give the abandoned spouse custody of any children. If there is an allegation of child abuse by either parent, an investigation will be ordered. The courts will not discriminate against a parent with a disability when considering child custody.

Joint custody may be ordered if:

  • it appears to be in the best interests of the child
  • both parents agree to joint custody
  • both parents appear capable of implementing and managing joint custody
  • upon consideration of certain factors, such as each parents’ ability to give first priority to the child’s welfare and their ability to make joint decisions benefiting the child, the parents appear prepared and mature enough for joint custody

Utah's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, the decision as to which parent is going to provide medical insurance coverage for the child and how medical bills will be paid is set out in the marital settlement agreement. If it is not, the courts may order a parent to pay medical and dental expenses and provide health insurance coverage for the child. Usually, if a reasonable medical insurance plan is available through one of the parent’s employment, they are required to cover their child on it. Both parents are required to share, equally, any uninsured expenses.

How permanent are the provisions for Utah child support and custody ?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change or modification to reflect significant changes in income, and/or living arrangements of the children.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Most states, including Utah, have a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. The payments are withheld much like income tax is withheld from earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

If a non-custodial parent can show that they are providing more than 50 percent of the support for dependents not included in the court order from a second marriage, and is not in arrears, no more than 50% of their disposable income can be attached if they cannot pay the full court-ordered amount of both orders.

That number goes to 55% if the non-custodial parent is in arrears, 60 percent for a person only providing support to dependents under the current order, and 65% for a person who is in arrears and paying only on the current order.

How does joint custody work?

Joint custody is now widely recognized by parents, courts and state legislatures as the preferred parenting plan in much of the nation.

Specifically, joint custody is a form of custody of minor children that requires both parents to share the responsibilities of the children, and for both parents to approve all major decisions related to the children.

While joint custody is a 50-50 sharing of responsibilities and major decisions affecting the children, it rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. Often one parent is named as the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation. The primary joint custodian typically retains the decision making power to determine the child’s primary residence and school and to designate things such as the child’s primary physician.

How Utah determines child visitation:

Generally, parents are free to visit with their children at all times that are mutually agreed to by both parents. However, when parents cannot agree to exactly when visitation will occur, the standard visitation schedule accepted most everywhere in the nation is:

  • every other weekend
  • four to six (4-6) weeks during the summer
  • alternating holidays
  • one week night a week (5:30 - 8:30 PM)
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