If Both Parents Share Custody, Does Anyone Pay Child Support?

Courts generally do not award someone custody without also making a child support order. If the child is with you physically but no custody order has been entered, then as long as paternity is established, either parent could take the child from the other and prohibit any visitation without it being a violation of a court order. Just having the child physically present with you is not the same as having court-ordered custody. In order to have custody, a court order must be entered. If neither party has obtained a custody order, the party with the child can still request that the Utah Office of Recovery Services administratively set a child support amount and begin collecting child support from the other parent. Usually, the Utah Office of Recovery Services, otherwise known as ORS, will only do this if it is undisputed that the child is primarily in the care of only one parent.

If both parents share custody, ORS may require evidence or some form of an agreement in order to make an administrative order for child support. However, either parent may file a petition for paternity or custody and in that petition, ask for a child support order. The court determines child support and even if the parties are sharing custody 50/50, a child support order may still enter. If one parent’s income is significantly greater than the other parent’s income, then even if the parties are sharing custody 50/50, the parent with the greater income will end up paying support to the other parent.

What Is The Process To Get Child Support Started?

Either party may file a petition for divorce, paternity, or custody requesting that a child support order is entered. Alternatively, even if a petition has not been filed, either party may file a request for an administrative order for child support from the Utah Office of Recovery Services. In order for ORS to establish and begin collecting child support, the requesting party needs to provide proof of the child’s existence and of paternity. If paternity has not been established, ORS can require the alleged father to undergo DNA testing to determine whether or not he is actually the child’s father. If the DNA test results demonstrate paternity, then ORS can begin collecting child support administratively.

How Is The Amount Of Child Support Determined?

Child support is based on the parties’ gross monthly incomes, the number of children, and the custody arrangements. Those incomes and the number of children are plugged into a formula that has been set up by the Utah State legislature. An online child support calculator is available, allowing anyone to enter their gross monthly incomes and number of children to determine what the child support amount will be. One other factor determines child support and that is the number of overnights the child spends with each parent. On the online child support calculator, there is a place to insert the number of overnights each parent receives. If a parent receives 111 overnights per year or more, they are determined to have joint physical custody and then the child support is calculated differently than custody situations where the noncustodial parent has fewer than 111 overnights per year. The custodial parent in that situation has sole physical custody. The greater number of overnights that the noncustodial parent has, the less child support they will pay.

Can The Amount Of Child Support Ever Be Adjusted?

If a court order is entered for child support, either party may request an adjustment if one party’s income or both parties’ incomes have significantly changed since the date of the last order. Often, it requires either a 30% change in one party’s income or a 10% change in the total child support amount, if it were to be recalculated. Those are not the only circumstances under which child support can change, but those are the most common. If a party’s earning ability has changed significantly, that may also justify a modification to the child support amount. Requests may also be made of ORS to administratively adjust child support.

For more information on Child Support In The State Of Utah, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 616-3301 today.

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*Child Welfare Law Specialist Nat’l Assoc. of Counsel for Children