Utah Child Support & Overnight Calculations
Utah uses overnights, or where the children sleep, as the basis for figuring custody timeshare percentages used in its child support formula.
Besides income, overnight totals are a key part of the Utah child support formula. Your overnights directly affect your child support, whether you pay or receive.
Utah attorneys and judges often rely on overnight estimates, even if they are incorrect, because counting overnights is tedious and time consuming. Divorcing parents often rely on these estimates as well.
Using estimates means your overnight totals are wrong when compared to your actual parenting time schedule. This means your child support amount will not be fair or exact.
To calculate overnights, the easiest and most accurate way is to use software. Without software, you're forced to count each night for a whole year, which is error-prone when you include alternating holidays, summer break, and any changes to the schedule throughout the year.
The leading overnight calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your overnights to see if they were estimated incorrectly.
Using software, you can also tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your total overnights, and you can see how your overnights change each year due to holidays and other events.
You can also track what actually happens, and show how many overnights you've actually received for any period of time. Historical information is a powerful tool when you request a child support modification or when you request more parenting time.
Child support formulas in Utah are tied to sole or joint physical custody status.
Utah sole physical custody: The children reside with and are supervised by the residential parent, while the other parent is entitled to overnight visitations. In Utah, when the non-residential parent has 110 or fewer overnights with the children, the family courts classify it as sole custody. Parenting time does not figure into the formula.
Utah joint physical custody: Each parent has significant periods of physical custody, which allows them frequent and continuing contact with their children. Utah requires that each parent host more than 110 overnights per year to qualify for joint physical custody. The number of overnights affects the amount of child support.
Utah family courts use different formulas for sole and joint custody child support amounts.
Sole physical custody: Utah family courts use a physical care method, which assigns a child support amount based on each parent's income. The non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent. Parenting time does not factor into the formula.
Joint physical custody: Utah family courts use a formula that adjusts the amount of child support payment based on the number of overnights each parent has with the children. As the overnight totals increase, the amount of child support decreases.
Look at a sole custody scenario for a hypothetical child support case in Utah. Robert earns $4,000 per month, while Mary earns $2,400 per month. They have two children.
Robert and Mary agree that he will have fewer than 110 overnights and he will be the non-residential parent.
See how the child support amount differs in these sole custody examples:
- Scenario #1: As the non-residential parent, Robert will pay Mary $842 in child support.
- Scenario #2: If Mary got a new job with equal pay to Robert, he would pay $781 in child support.
- Scenario #3: If Mary became the higher earner at $4,000 per month while a layoff forces Robert to take a lower paying job at $2,400, he would still pay a portion of his income to Mary for child support. In this scenario, he would pay $502 to Mary.
In Utah, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent, regardless of which parent earns more.
If the custody was reversed, and Robert had sole physical custody of the children, Mary would pay a percentage of child support based on her income to Robert.
Consider the hypothetical joint custody case of Robert and Mary. Robert earns $4,000 per month, while Mary earns $2,400 per month. They have two children.
See how the child support amounts change in these joint custody examples:
- Scenario #1: Robert hosts the children for 111 overnights, the minimum required to qualify for joint physical custody. He pays $838 in child support to Mary.
- Scenario #2: If Robert increases his overnights by two week to 125 per year, his child support amount lowers to $788 per month.
- Scenario #3: If Robert's overnights are equal to Mary's, with 182 overnights, his child support amount lowers to $186 per month.
- Scenario #4: If Robert's overnights exceed Mary's, such as 200 overnights, Mary pays him child support. In this case, Mary pays Robert $43 each month.
In Utah joint custody cases, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent, based on a percentage of his or her income.
Utah's child support formula uses the following information to calculate your monthly amounts for joint custody child support:
Overnights: Unlike some states, Utah does not factor in daytime visitations into a child support formula—only overnights. The non-residential parent must host the children for 111 overnights or more to qualify for joint custody.
Eligible children: Qualifying children in Utah must be under the age of 19 or still in high school. Disabled children who must remain with the residential parent may require child support past these limits.
Gross earnings: Gross earnings are established based on tax records and current pay stubs. Utah law requires the use of both parents' incomes from the equivalent of one full-time job to determine a child support amount.
Paying accurate child support helps your children in several ways, primarily because it ensures their financial needs are met.
Here are some other reasons why accurate overnight numbers help you, the other parent and your children:
- It provides a fair way to determine your child support amounts
- It guarantees the child support amount reflects each parent's responsibilities
- It allows for modifications if your actual time and scheduled time are different
- It is compliant with Utah law
Your financial obligations to your children don't end with divorce, so whether you are paying or receiving child support, you owe it to your children to pay or receive the proper amount.
To ensure you are paying or receiving the right amount of child support in Utah, remember these 5 things:
- Utah parenting time percentages only count overnight visits. Child visitation during the day or into the evening does not affect child support amounts.
- When a Utah family court awards sole custody to the residential parent, the children will spend fewer than 110 overnights with the non-residential parent. The number of overnights will have no impact on child support.
- When a Utah family court awards joint custody, the children spend at least 111 overnights and probably more outside the primary residence.
- As the scheduled overnights increase with the non-residential parent, the child support amount slowly lowers.
- Most people use estimate to calculate overnights, which can lead to inaccurate numbers in the Utah child support formula, resulting in incorrect child support amounts.
Use the Custody X Change software to accurately calculate the total overnights for the Utah child support formula.