Can ORS Lower My Child Support?

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).

Modifying Administratively

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.

Modifying Judicially

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 |



  • I like how you said that it would be a good idea to talk to a layer in the attempt to lower child support. My brother got divorced not too long ago and recently was laid off from his job. He’s going to have a bit of a hard time paying the child support until he gets a new one so I think he should probably talk to someone about getting the amount lowered until he can get a new position somewhere.

  • Update your info. It’s 30% over three years, not 10%

    • Divorce Utah
      June 11, 2018 5:31 pm

      Jeff, thanks for reading and commenting. You make a mistake in construing the Utah Code that many people make. Let me clear it up:

      There are two different ways that Utah Code Section 78B-12-210 can apply to modify child support:

      #1) If a child support order has not been issued or modified within the previous three years, you can move the court to adjust the amount of a child support order. Think of it as a sort of cost of living adjustment.
      If there is a difference of 10% or more between the payor’s ordered support amount and the payor’s support amount that would be required under the statutory child support guidelines

      #2) You can petition to modify the child support order at any time (and not have to wait 3 years) if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. A substantial change in circumstances may include (among other factors), material changes of 30% or more in the income of a parent, such that the change results in a difference of 15% or more between the payor’s ordered support amount and the payor’s support amount that would be required under the guidelines.

  • What happens if my Ex refuses to provide documentation/information to ORS during a modification review? I live in a different state, but my Ex lives in Utah. Our child support order is from utah. I requested a modification through ORS who then sent a letter requesting income verification etc. But my Ex won’t provide anything or respond. What are my options from here?

    • I don’t work for ORS, but my guess is that if you follow ORS procedures and your ex does not, then either ORS will modify based upon your ex’s failure to respond or claim that because they don’t have the needed information from your ex, ORS cannot make any changes and they will refer you to the court to seek a change. What does ORS tell you?

  • Can ORS collect child support if the child is incarcerated and over the age of 18?

  • Morris Fonda
    June 3, 2020 12:50 am

    Would I be able to lower child support if I am remarried and have other kids with my wife?

    • Divorce Utah
      June 20, 2020 2:02 pm

      Not likely. Here are the Utah Code section that applies:

      78B-12-210. Application of guidelines — Use of ordered child support.

      (a) Natural or adoptive children of either parent who live in the home of that parent and are not children in common to both parties may at the option of either party be taken into account under the guidelines in setting a child support award, as provided in Subsection (7).
      (b) Additional worksheets shall be prepared that compute the base child support award of the respective parents for the additional children. The base child support award shall then be subtracted from the appropriate parent’s income before determining the award in the instant case.
      (7) In a proceeding to adjust or modify an existing award, consideration of natural or adoptive children born after entry of the order and who are not in common to both parties may be applied to mitigate an increase in the award but may not be applied:
      (a) for the benefit of the obligee if the credit would increase the support obligation of the obligor from the most recent order; or
      (b) for the benefit of the obligor if the amount of support received by the obligee would be decreased from the most recent order.

  • Gary L goulding
    December 8, 2020 11:55 am

    My son has turned 18 and moved out of ex’s house. He dropped out of school at 17. Utah State states the support stops at 18, or when his H.S. class graduates!
    He doesn’t HAVE a school. He’s dragging his feet to get diploma, which would end it. Meanwhile, Mom is still getting 450/mo. Until May, otherwise.
    Any ideas?

  • A friend’s question: He pays a high child support for 3 kids. He has them 3 night, ex 4 nights. His ex chooses to work a small amount and just had a baby with someone else. She now works even less but wants more child support. She’s capable of a full time job but would lose state assistance. Should he go through ORS to see if he can lower the child support or is this more of a court/hire a lawyer issue?

    • Please give me a call if you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss your question in greater detail. 801-466-9277.

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