How is Child Support Determined in Utah?

When a couple goes through a divorce or temporary separation, the welfare of their children becomes a crucial concern. Child support is an essential aspect of ensuring that children’s needs are met during these challenging times. In Utah, as in many other places, there is a legal duty for parents to support their children under the age of 18, but there are exceptions, such as emancipation or if the child has a disability that results in ongoing dependence even after turning 18. In this article, we’ll explore the factors that determine child support in Utah and how it is calculated.

The Utah Child Support Guidelines

Utah follows specific guidelines that determine child support amounts. These guidelines take into account the income of both parents and the custodial arrangement. The parent who has custody of the child receives child support payments from the non-custodial parent. The child support payment is broken down into three components: base child support, medical expenses, and child care expenses.

Base Child Support

Base child support is calculated based on the combined gross income of both parents. The court considers the income of both parents to determine the financial support needed for the child.

Medical Expenses

Health insurance premiums attributed to the child(ren) are divided between the parents. Additionally, both parents share the responsibility for uninsured medical expenses.

Child Care Expenses

Work-related childcare expenses are also shared between the parents to ensure that the child receives adequate care while the custodial parent is working.

Calculating Child Support in Utah

To calculate child support accurately, the court considers the total gross income of both parents and the number of overnights the child spends with each parent. Both parents must provide evidence of their income, such as pay stubs and tax returns, to ensure that the child support calculator accurately reflects their financial situations.

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Income Assessment

If a parent is unable to provide recent work history information or a specific occupation, the court can assume their earning potential based on their prior work history and an assumed 40-hour workweek. In some cases, the court may use the federal minimum wage for a 40-hour workweek as a benchmark.

Exceptions to Calculations

Exceptions to the standard child support calculations are made in specific non-temporary cases:

  1. If the cost of childcare is equal to or nearly equal to the amount earned by the custodial parent.
  2. If a parent has a physical or mental condition preventing them from obtaining or maintaining a minimum wage job.
  3. If the parent is undergoing training to establish basic job skills.
  4. If the child has unique needs requiring the custodial parent to provide care at home.

Impact of Custody Arrangement on Child Support

The number of overnights the child spends with each parent can influence the amount of child support paid. Different custody arrangements have varying effects:

Joint Physical Custody

When the child spends a minimum of 111 nights per year in the homes of each parent, this is known as joint physical custody. In such cases, child support is calculated differently from sole physical custody.

Sole Physical Custody

If the child spends over 225 nights per year in one parent’s home, this is classified as sole physical custody, and child support is determined accordingly.

Split Custody

In cases where there is more than one child, and some live with one parent while others live with the other parent, this is known as split custody, and the child support calculations are adjusted accordingly.

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Child support is a vital aspect of ensuring the well-being of children during divorce or separation in Utah. The guidelines and calculations take into account the income of both parents and the custody arrangement. Understanding these factors helps provide a fair and suitable support system for the children involved.


  1. Can child support be granted during temporary separation? Yes, child support can be granted during temporary separation as long as the legal duty to support the child under the age of 18 still applies.
  2. Are there exceptions to child support calculations in Utah? Yes, there are exceptions, such as cases where childcare costs are prohibitively high or if the parent has physical or mental conditions that hinder their ability to work.
  3. What happens if one parent doesn’t work? In such cases, the court can assume the amount of earning potential based on the parent’s prior work history and an assumed 40-hour workweek.
  4. What if there is joint physical custody? If the child spends a minimum of 111 nights per year with each parent, joint physical custody rules apply for child support calculations.
  5. How is split custody handled for child support? In split custody scenarios where children live with different parents, the child support calculations are adjusted accordingly.

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