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FAMILY LAW - Child Custody

Posted by T. Jake HinkinsOct 25, 20190 Comments

A lot of people wonder what is child support and how is it calculated? Child support is the basic amount that's required under the statute and under the Utah Child Support Guidelines for a payor spouse to pay the recipient spouse. And child support, basically, is used to take care of the children.

Now, a lot people have questions and say, “well, how do I make sure that my ex-spouse is going to actually use the money to take care of the kids.” Unfortunately, you don't have an ability to do that. The money goes to the spouse and the hope is that they're taking care of the children. The amounts that are required under child support are set forth by a formula: the amount of income, the number of children and the number of nights that each party has the children are really the only factors that go into the calculation to determine how much child support is paid.

If you get remarried, you can also look at how much income the new recipient spouse is making, but those things have a marginal difference in the amount of child support that's paid. The amounts of child support really can't vary a lot. They can't be a big derivation from what the child support guidelines say, otherwise it has to be approved by the court and there has to be a reason for that derivation. A lot of people say, “well, can't I just waive the child support?” And, the answer is, really, you're not supposed to. Child support is for the children. It's not actually for the recipient spouse. You shouldn't be waiving children's rights.

A lot of people have questions as to whether medical expenses and daycare expenses should be included as part of child support amounts. The answer is typically not. Usually, child support is its own separate, stand-alone issue. Then you have daycare expenses that are work related and medical expenses that are laid out in statute. Usually, those things are split 50/50 and the amounts that the spouses pay are based on what the actual out-of-pocket costs are for those different items.

Sometimes, in a joint physical custody situation people will have obligations outside of those three things. They may also have to pay for extracurricular activities and things like that. When people say that they are already paying for child support why should they have to pay for medical expenses, the child support calculator really doesn't take into account any type of out-of-pocket medical expenses that may be incurred. Those things are actually done separately outside of child support.