The Utah legislature has designed and issued a significant change in the Utah Child Support Minimum Guidelines. In many states, the state legislature institutes a minimum amount of child support that should exchange hands for the care of a child. States vary as to how that calculation is done.

In Utah, the method used is to:
1. Determine the monthly income of each parent,
2. Combine that income to find a total monthly joint income,
3. Compare that joint monthly income to a square on a grid of joint income and number of children. The grid will provide a combined child support amount. That combined income amount is supposedly what it takes to raise that number of children using that family’s combined income.
4. Calculate each parent’s percentage portion of the total monthly joint amount is calculated.
5. Multiply that parent’s percentage portion of the joint income amount by the combined child support amount as found on the grid.

Click here for worksheets, created by the Utah government, that will assist you in doing a calculation. If you need help, contact your Long Okura attorney or paralegal.

Following this process or competing a worksheet will provide each parent with their child support amount. Only one parent must actually pay an amount to the other; the other parent is presumed to have paid his or her support by the presence of the child in his or her home. The amount produced by this process is to calculate a minimum, in some circumstances greater amounts of child support may be appropriate.

The new child support guidelines do not change the process of calculating child support and many other relevant child support-related issues are the same. What the Utah Legislature has changed is the grid of combined incomes and the resulting combined child support amount. The parents who most severely feel the effects of the change are high income producing payers of child support. Please contact your Long Okura attorney to discuss how the change many impact your case.

For years, family law practitioners, and parents receiving support, have complained that Utah’s child support minimums were far below that of most states. Proponents of a change to the guidelines stated that the data used to surmise the amount of money it takes to raise a child each month was seriously antiquated. The Utah Legislature attempted a modification to the guidelines in 2006 but that attempt failed. In 2007, the bill passed and became enacted in July 2007.

The new guidelines are to be used in any case where a final order did not issue prior to January 1, 2008. If a final order issues prior to January 1, 2008, the “old” guidelines apply and parents will have to wait until 2010 to modify their current award of child support to an award calculated under the new guidelines. However, modification of child support can be warranted in some other circumstances, so be sure to speak with your Long Okura attorney.