Should I be receiving more than $300 a month in child support if my ex-husband makes $1,200 per week?
Each jurisdiction has different child support laws and rules, but I can answer this question in the context of Utah law, because I practice divorce and family law in that state:
Your question is how do I know if I am receiving the correct amount of child support from the child support obligor parent. “Obligor” means the person who is obligated to do something, in this case a child support to the child support recipient, who is also known as the child support “obligee”.
In the past, Utah’s law left how child support was calculated to what the parties and/or the courts felt was appropriate. As you can imagine, however, leaving something so contentious as child support so wide open led to a tremendous amount of child support litigation. In response, the Utah State Legislature created a presumptive statutory formula for calculating child support.
Now let me walk you through what the statutory guidelines for child support calculation in Utah are, and how they apply. I have provided links to the code sections that I cite at the end of this post.
Utah Code § 78B-12-210 is entitled “Application of guidelines—Use of ordered child support.” For the average family and their children, the guidelines apply as a rebuttable presumption in establishing or modifying the amount of temporary or permanent child support. That means the amount of the child support award resulting from application of the guidelines, and the use of worksheets consistent with those guidelines, are presumed to be correct and binding upon the parents. This presumption can be rebutted and child support award be lower than what the guidelines provide, but only where the court is convinced that use of the guidelines would be unjust, inappropriate, or not in the best interest of a child in a particular case. Deviating downward from the guidelines rarely occurs.
Utah Code § 78B-12-205, entitled “Calculation of obligations” provides that, except for parents whose monthly adjusted gross incomes are $1,050 or less, each parent’s child support obligation is established in proportion to their adjusted gross incomes. Utah Code § 78B-12-204 defines “adjusted gross income” is the amount calculated by subtracting from gross income alimony previously ordered and paid and child support previously ordered. The guidelines do not reduce the total child support award by adjusting the gross incomes of the parents for alimony ordered in the pending proceeding. In establishing alimony, the guidelines do not provide for your alimony obligation to be deducted from your gross income. So if you are not paying alimony or child support to a previous spouse (not your current spouse) or to children in addition to the ones who are the subject of your current child support case, your child support obligation will be calculated based upon your gross monthly income. Gross monthly income means before tax income.
Some people get angry when they hear that child support is based upon gross before tax income. Remember, the statutory guidelines don’t treat you as though you don’t pay taxes. The child support calculation formula takes the fact that you have to pay taxes into account.
So if your ex-husband makes $1,200 per week, if that’s a gross amount he is paid, then that means he earns $5,200 per month. Child support is based upon both what your husband earns and what you earn. There is a child support calculator provided by the State of Utah free of charge. I’ve included a link to that calculator at the end of this post too. Here is how filling out the child support worksheet works:
You need to know how much both your ex-husband’s and your adjusted gross monthly incomes are. You need to know how many minor children will be included in the child support calculation, and you need to know how many overnights the minor children spend with each parent.
So assume for our purposes that your ex-husband’s gross monthly income is $1,257 per month. $1,257 is equal to earning minimum wage on a full-time, 40-hour per week basis, so it would be almost impossible to calculate child support on anything less than $1,257 per month. We would also plug your gross monthly income into the calculator. So let’s use $1,257 for you too. If you are not disabled and can work full-time, even if you are unemployed currently, you cannot have your income be less than $1,257 per month because it’s assumed that anyone can earn minimum wage.
Let’s also assume that you have three minor children and that you have them in your custody 220 overnights annually and your ex-husband has than 145 overnights annually.
Now we have all the information we need to fill out the calculator, so will fill it in now in the appropriate blanks, then will click the “Continue” button to generate the child support worksheet. As you can see, your ex-husband’s child support obligation for three minor children would be $260 per month. As you can see, the child support calculator is pretty clear and straightforward, and now you know the basics of how child support is calculated, you can figure out for yourself what child or will be in your case by following the instructions on the child support worksheet calculator. You can even calculate different scenarios to find out what child support would be depending upon differences in income and in number of overnights each parent spends with the children on an annual basis.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277