Tag: child support award

Do you think it’s fair for a non-custodial parent to pay more child support?

Do you think it’s acceptable for the non-custodial parent to have to pay more child support because the custodial parent chooses to barely work or not work at all?  

Generally, no, it is not acceptable. In the jurisdiction where I practice divorce and family law (Utah): “Every child is presumed to be in need of the support of the child’s mother and father. Every mother and father shall support their children.” (78B-12-105(1). Duty of parents.) A parent is not legally permitted, by being unemployed or underemployed, to avoid his/her financial support obligations to a child and/or burden the other parent with his/her share of financial responsibility. See Utah Code § 78B-12-203 entitled “Determination of gross income — Imputed income.”  

Subsection (8) provides that one, income may not be imputed to a parent unless the parent stipulates to the amount imputed, the parent defaults, or, in contested cases, a hearing is held in a judicial or administrative proceeding and findings of fact as to the evidentiary basis for the imputation are made. If income is imputed to a parent, the income shall be based upon employment potential and probable earnings considering, to the extent known:  

(i) employment opportunities;  

(ii) work history;  

(iii) occupation qualifications;  

(iv) educational attainment;  

(v) literacy;  

(vi) age;  

(vii) health;  

(viii) criminal record;  

(ix) other employment barriers and background factors; and  

(x) prevailing earnings and job availability for persons of similar backgrounds in the community.  

Subsection (8)(c) further provides, “If a parent has no recent work history or a parent’s occupation is unknown, that parent may be imputed an income at the federal minimum wage for a 40-hour work week. To impute a greater or lesser income, the judge in a judicial proceeding or the presiding officer in an administrative proceeding shall enter specific findings of fact as to the evidentiary basis for the imputation.”  

Subsection (8)(d) further provides, “Income may not be imputed if any of the following conditions exist and the condition is not of a temporary nature:  

(i) the reasonable costs of child care for the parents’ minor children approach or equal the amount of income the custodial parent can earn;  

(ii) a parent is physically or mentally unable to earn minimum wage;  

(iii) a parent is engaged in career or occupational training to establish basic job skills; or  

(iv) unusual emotional or physical needs of a child require the custodial parent’s presence in the home. If you are an underemployed or unemployed parent who believes you can gain the child support system, you are mistaken.  

So, in Utah if you you are an underemployed or unemployed parent who believes you can game the child support system, you are mistaken. If you are the other parent who is confronted with an underemployed or unemployed parent who is trying to game the child support system, know that the law is on your side, so long as you can prove that the other parent is underemployed or unemployed and needs to have a reasonable income imputed to him/her for the purpose of determining each parent’s financial child support obligations. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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How should the child support payment system in the U.S. be changed?

How should the child support payment system in the U.S. be changed to make it more fair? 

What is unfair about child support for the child support payor (also known as the child support obligor): 

  • tying child support to the number of overnights the child spends in the custody of a parent entices many parents to seek being awarded as many overnights as possible, thereby ensuring that the one receiving child support receives as much as possible or ensuring that the one who pays child support pays as little as possible. Even when the child would benefit from being in the joint (or even joint equal) physical custody of the parents, many parents try to seek sole or primary physical custody awards simply to gain the child support calculation process. 
  • child support recipients (also known as the child support payees or obligees) who use child support money for the their own personal expenses and not for the child’s actual support.  
  • lack of accountability on the part of the child support recipient for how the child support monies are spent, to ensure that the monies are being spent on the financial support of the child, as opposed to the personal expenses of the child support recipient. 
  • child support calculation formulae that are not commensurate with the child’s actual financial needs, i.e., orders that someone has to pay more money each month (in some cases substantially more money) than is necessary to meet the child needs. 
  • child support awards that “kill the goose that lays the golden eggs” by requiring such a high amount of child support be paid that the child support payor cannot meet his/her own basic monthly costs of living. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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Do you pay tithing on child support?

Nothing is more frustrating to a sincere Christian than to ask the question, “Should I pay tithing on child support money I receive as a parent?” and to receive this kind of response: “It’s between you and the Lord.” 

While “it’s between you and God,” is important to your analysis of the question, and while you need to ask God to guide you in your analysis and your ultimate decision, “it’s between you and the Lord” it doesn’t really answer your question. It gives you too little guidance. 

What you want to know is whether you should pay tithing on the child support you receive or not pay tithing on it and why. I can and will answer these questions for you substantively. 

First, while you will find faithful, devoted, rational Christians who will answer your question with a “yes” and other equally faithful, devoted, rational Christians who will answer your question with a “no,” unless the church you attend has a specific policy on what is and is not tithed* there is no definitive answer to this question (don’t be upset, I will give you as definitive an answer as I can in the next paragraph). 

The answer is: no. Here is why: 

  • If you administer (spend) child support for the sole and exclusive benefit of the child(ren), then 
    • child support is not yours and thus not “your increase” and thus not money on which you pay tithing (Deuteronomy 14:22; see also Leviticus 27:30-33); 
    • and if the person who earned the funds out of which child support is paid has already paid tithing on it, then there is no purpose in “tithing” it again just because it has changed hands by being entrusted to you to administer for the benefit of the minor children. 
      • If the payor did not pay tithing on the child support funds entrusted to you, you are still not obligated to pay tithing on the funds, as they are not your income/increase. 

“But,” you may ask, “if I spend some of the child support funds on myself (and you can legally do that if, for example, you use child support to pay your rent, your heat, electric, and/or water bill or similar utilities), then is that ‘increase’ to me, such that I should pay tithing on that portion/fraction that benefits me?” I don’t think so. To explain further by way of a real-life analogy: 

  • I once had a job as a caretaker for mentally disabled adults during the day. Among the services I provided for these adults was taking them to the occasional movie. 
  • My employer provided me with money to purchase movie tickets for these adults, as well as to purchase a movie ticket for me. 
    • Obviously, they money my employer entrusted to me to buy a movie ticket was not for my own enjoyment. I had no choice as to whether I would purchase the ticket for myself or spend the money as I chose. 
    • Whether I wanted to watch the movie (or liked the movie) was irrelevant because the purpose of providing me with money to purchase a movie ticket for me was enable me to accompany the disabled adults I cared for into the movie theater to supervise and attend to them during the movie. 
  • The money my employer gave me to purchase a movie ticket for myself was not income/increase to me in any way. I clearly had no moral obligation to pay tithing on that money.

If you are obligated to provide housing, heat, and water to your children under the same roof as where you reside, then you cannot do that without providing housing, heat, and water for yourself at the same time. As long as you utilize those child support funds responsibly for the benefit of your children, then those funds are not income/increase to you. You have no moral obligation to pay tithing on those funds. 


*The original version of this question specifically asked whether the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints requires a child support recipient to pay tithing on child support, and the answer to that question is: the church has no specific policy on the subject. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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Is there a “statute of limitations” for seeking child support?

In Utah, yes:

Utah Code § 78B-15-109. Limitation on recovery from the obligor.

The obligor’s liabilities for past support are limited to the period of four years preceding the commencement of an action.

As to the period of time in which one has to enforce an existing child support award:

Utah Code § 78B-5-202. . . . Child support orders.

(6)(a) A child support order or a sum certain judgment for past due support may be enforced:

(i) within four years after the date the youngest child reaches majority; or

(ii) eight years from the date of entry of the sum certain judgment entered by a tribunal.

(b) The longer period of duration shall apply in every order.

(c) A sum certain judgment may be renewed to extend the duration.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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