Modifying Child Support


Talk to an Attorney

Modifying a child support order is very complicated. Consider talking to an attorney to go over your options. One way to talk to an attorney is to visit a free legal clinic. Clinics provide general legal information and give brief legal advice.


Modifying a Child Support Order From Another State

An order from another country or another state is called a "foreign order." The Utah district court can modify a child support order from another state if it has jurisdiction. The first of several conditions that must be met for a Utah court to modify a foreign order is that the foreign order must be registered and confirmed as a judgment of Utah. For more information, see our webpage on Registering a Foreign Order.

After a Utah court modifies a foreign order, the party filing the Petition or Motion to Modify must notify the court of the state that entered the order and every court in which the order has been registered.


Jurisdiction

The Utah court must have "jurisdiction" to modify child support. Jurisdiction can be very complex, especially if the controlling child support order was entered in a state other than Utah or the child or the parents reside in a state other than Utah. Before spending the time and money to modify child support in a Utah court, make sure that the Utah court, rather than the court of another state, has jurisdiction. For more information, see our Support Modification Jurisdiction Chart.

  • Support Modification Jurisdiction Chart - PDF Document PDF | Word Document Word

Motion or Petition?

Attention! Be sure to use the correct forms. Read this section carefully!

In limited circumstances, you may file a Motion to Modify Child Support, but usually, you must file a Petition to Modify Child Support. The documents and procedures are different, so be sure to use the correct forms. The next section describes when you may use a motion and when you must use a petition. The forms for both methods are in the paragraph on Forms.

Whether you file a motion or petition, you must serve the other party by one of the methods authorized by URCP 4. Simply mailing the motion or petition is not enough.


Grounds to Modify Child Support


Motion to Modify Child Support

A child support order can be modified by motion if it has been three or more years since the order was entered and:

  • there is a difference of 10% or more between the support amount as ordered and the support amount as required under the guidelines; and
  • the difference is not temporary; and
  • the proposed child support amount is consistent with the guidelines.

See Utah Code Section 78B-12-210(8). If any of these things is missing from your case, you must file a Petition to Modify Child Support.

Petition to Modify Child Support

A child support order can be modified by petition if it has been three or more years since the order was entered and:

  • there is a difference of 10% or more between the support amount as ordered and the support amount as required under the guidelines; and
  • the difference is not temporary; and
  • the proposed child support amount is not consistent with the guidelines.

See Utah Code Section 78B-12-210(8).

A child support order can be modified by petition if it has been less than three years since the order was entered and there has been a material change:

  • in custody; or
  • in the relative wealth or assets of the parties; or
  • of 30% or more in the income of a parent; or
  • in the employment potential and ability of a parent to earn; or
  • in the medical needs of the child; or
  • in the legal responsibilities of a parent for the support of others; or
  • in the availability or cost of health care coverage; or
  • in work-related or education-related child care expenses of the payor or the payee of child support; or
  • due to the emancipation of a child.

The material change must result in a difference, which is not temporary, of 15% or more between the support amount as ordered and the support amount as required under the guidelines. See Utah Code Section 78B-12-210(9).

A child support order can also be modified by petition regardless of the time since it was entered if:


Child Support Worksheets

Child support is calculated by a formula established by statute. The courts have fill-in-the-blank Child Support Worksheets to help you calculate child support and an interactive web Child Support Calculator (orscsc.dhs.utah.gov) that will make the calculations and prepare the worksheets for you. The calculations are different depending on the custody arrangements; make sure you use the correct forms.


Child Support Guidelines

Utah law presumes that parents will support their children at a certain level, given a variety of circumstances, such as income, number of children, etc. The Child Support Worksheets and Child Support Calculator calculate child support payments that conform to these guidelines. If you show good reasons not to follow the guidelines, the court court's worksheets and calculator will not apply. See Utah Code Section 78B-12-202 and Section 78B-12-210.


Failure to Answer

A party who fails to answer or otherwise appear after being served with the petition and summons is in default and will lose. A judgment against a non-appearing party is called a default judgment. For more information, see our webpage on Default Judgments. If you qualify for a default judgment, use the Forms for Default Judgment listed below.


Forms


Motion to Modify Child Support


Forms to Move That Child Support be Modified
Forms to Respond to a Motion to Modify Child Support

Petition to Modify Child Support


Forms to Petition That Child Support be Modified
Forms to Respond to a Petition to Modify Child Support
Forms for Default Judgment (Order Entered Because Other Party Does Not Answer)
Forms for Asking to go to Trial

Related Information


Page Last Modified: 9/20/2013
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