The parents of a child may split for several reasons. This can be an issue of concern because many parents tend to abandon the responsibility of caring for the child. This leaves only the custodial parent to bear all the costs associated with bringing up the child. However, the split of parents does not eliminate the obligation that both parents have to support their child. The Office of Recovery Services in Utah helps establish and enforce child support payments to assist custodial parents with childcare costs.
Child Support Process
The Child Support Services (CSS) in Utah are provided by the Office of Recovery Services (ORS), a division of the Utah Department of Human Services (DHS). While applications may be submitted physically or online, ORS recommends that parents go through the online application process. The services provided include locating the noncustodial parent, establishing the paternity of the child, establishing, or modifying child support orders, and enforcing already established orders.
The online application portal can be accessed at https://orsoac.dhs.utah.gov/orsoacapp-hs/orsoacweb/actions/Oac0005. Alternatively, the download link for a printable application is https://orsdda.dhs.utah.gov/orsddaapp-hs/orsddaweb/actions/Dda0001/getDocument?formId=XAPP. During the child support application, some information would be required by the ORS. This includes details about the applicant (custodial parent) like full name, date of birth, social security number, gender, relationship to the child, etc. The application also contains a section to indicate if the father of the child is known, or not. Some details of the noncustodial parent are also required in the application form. Details like name, social security number, address, phone number, height, hair and eye color, race, etc. The information provided at this point may be used to help locate the noncustodial parent. Until the noncustodial parent is located and served a notice of child support, the case cannot progress. It is therefore important that the information provided is as accurate as possible. If the custodial parent doesn’t have sufficient information, the ORS may utilize state and federal parent locator services to help find the noncustodial parent, however, this can significantly prolong the process. For more details on the application process and the documents required, visit https://ors.utah.gov/how_to_apply.htm.
After the noncustodial parent has been located and served with a notice of child support, the next step is usually to establish the paternity of the child. If the mother of the child was married when the child was born, her husband is presumed to be the father of the child. For children born outside of marriage, a process must be followed to acknowledge the man as the legal father of the child. The common way is for both parents to sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity form in the presence of two witnesses not related to any of them. For minors who are signing, a parent or guardian must also sign the form. The Voluntary Declaration of Paternity is usually provided and signed right after the child’s birth but can also be signed at any time afterward. If the man is not sure that he is the father of the child, genetic testing may be requested before paternity is established. The testing is often provided at no cost when a case is opened with the Office of Recovery Services. If the results come back showing that the man is the child’s biological father, a court order will be entered to that effect.
Once paternity is established, the child support case can proceed to the establishment phase itself. At this point, a reasonable amount will be determined for the child support order
How Do You Receive Child Support
The ORS uses Electronic Funds Transfer to send child support payments to custodial parents in Utah who have an established child support case. There are two available electronic transfer options for parents.
Parents can opt to receive their payments via Direct Deposit. This means that the child support payments would be paid into an authorized account owned by the parent. Direct deposit allows parents to access the funds easily from their bank account and eliminates additional fees that may have been incurred.
Alternatively, the funds can be received on a Utah Debit Card. This is a MasterCard debit card with a separate account created for parents to receive their child support entitlements. The Utah Debit Card does not require the parent to already have an existing bank account. This card can be used like a regular debit card, including to make purchases, get cashback services, make ATM withdrawals, etc. The balance is also readily available using the card.
Parents must complete an enrollment form indicating their preferred method of receiving payments. This form can be accessed at https://ors.utah.gov/documents/ElectronicPaymentEnrollmentForm_000.pdf. Unlike some other states, Utah does not allow parents to receive their child support via checks in the mail. This option is only available temporarily for parents who are currently in the process of setting up an Electronic Funds Transfer payment method.
Amount Receivable as Child Support
The amount entered in a child support order in Utah is determined with several considerations. The ORS takes into account the gross income of the parents, the number of children, alimony settlements (if any), custody arrangement for the child, parent covering medical insurance, etc. These details are used to establish a fair and reasonable amount of money to be paid as child support. The goal is to set an amount that gives the child a decent quality of life yet is not too much for the noncustodial parent to pay.
Utah hosts a child support calculator for estimation purposes. This calculator can be found at https://orscsc.dhs.utah.gov/orscscapp-hs/orscscweb/actions/Csc0002.
Enforcement of Child Support
Noncustodial parents are expected to make prompt and complete payments every month. Unfortunately, this is not the case as some parents make delayed payments, pay on a part of the amount, or do not even make any payment at all. To help with enforcing child support orders, ORS can take several actions to force parents to comply with child support orders. These include suspension of licenses, denial of passport applications, deduction of arrears from the parent’s income, interception of state and federal tax refunds, etc. Outstanding child support payments must all be paid, even if the child has been emancipated and is no longer eligible for child support.