January 8, 2016
When parties are divorced or subject to a separation order in Utah, the Decree of Divorce or Separation Order will identify the child support obligation will be. It would, however, be quite unusual for the parties’ income to remain stagnant for the entire time that child support is owed. Jobs are lost, and new jobs found. Promotions are given. So how does the court calculate when your child support obligation can it be modified?
There are generally two ways to modify child support: administratively (through the Office of Recovery Services) and judicially (through the courts).
Under federal and state law, you have the right to request a review of your child support order. A private attorney can assist you with the review or the Office of Recovery Services/Child Support Services (ORS/CSS) can conduct a review. The review may result in a change to the child support amount. If the amount changes, it may go up or it may go down.
To modify child support through ORS, you must first have a “case” or “account” opened with them. If you have an open child support case with ORS, you may make a written (must be written) request ORS to review your child support order. If you do not have an open child support case with ORS, you will need to apply for child support services prior to requesting a review.
ORS will review your order to decide if the amount of child support needs to be increased or decreased and ORS itself will request that the child support award be modified if:
- the order is at least 3 years old and the new award for either parent is at least 10% higher or lower than the current award;
- the order is less than 3 years old and you provide proof that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred that is not temporary (less than 12 months); and the new award for either parent is at least 15% higher or lower than the current award; or,
- your order does not require a parent to have insurance for medical expenses for the child(ren). ORS may request that the order be modified to require a parent to get insurance, if it is available at a reasonable cost.
However, ORS will not adjust your child support:
- if the youngest child will be 18 years old within a year;
- if either parent cannot be located;
- if either parent is incarcerated; or,
- for other issues, such as visitation or custody.
There may be additional reasons ORS can deny your modification if your decree contains additional provisions limiting their abilities.
You may also ask the court to modify your child support obligation; however, the process will take longer and will undoubtedly cost you more money, as you will likely need or want to hire an attorney.
To get your child support obligation changed it would be wise to speak to an experienced attorney who can review the order and determine what legal hoops you may need to jump through to change your child support. If your decree does not contain a mechanism for adjusting child support, then the law requires that you prove a “material and substantial change in circumstances” has arisen since the decree was entered that was not contemplated at the time the decree was entered.
You will need to provide evidence to the court that income for at least one (if not both) of the parties has changed (and changed for a non-temporary period) and that child support needs to be modified accordingly. Your ex-spouse will have an opportunity to provide evidence on the subject of child support as well. So if your ex-spouse believes you are trying to mislead the court, or if your ex believes you have not complied with the provisions of your decree for modifying support, it will make your job more difficult, meaning it will cost you more money at the court level.
Regardless of the avenue you take to try and modify your child support obligation, there are ways to make sure your child support is calculated correctly and fairly. Given that your child support obligations can last up to 18 years per child, it is important to get the numbers right. Click here for ORS’s online Child Support Calculator.
If you feel you need to speak to an attorney to help with having your Child Support adjusted, click below to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys. 801-466-9277 | firstname.lastname@example.org