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Utah Child Support Bills Flood State Legislature, Address Serious Statewide Problem

With a 2005 legislative audit revealing that $325 million is owed to Utah children in child support, state legislators have kicked the New Year with numerous bills to combat this problem.

A recent story in the Deseret Morning News details how the 2005 audit examined 80,000 Utah child support cases and found more than half of them (approximately 47,000 cases) to be deficient in payments.

Legislators have already proposed bills which would revamp Utah child support and family laws.

Senate Bill 23

  • Senate Bill 23 would update 13-year old Utah child support guidelines and lead to increased monthly payments in most cases. Monthly Utah child support payments would get higher with increased incomes under SB23. For example, a noncustodial parent who earns anywhere from $1501-1600 a month and has one child would see a $57 jump in a monthly Utah child support payment, from $227 to $284. Similarly, a single-child, noncustodial parent earning anywhere from $2501-2600 would pay $89 more per month.

SB23 was introduced by Utah Senator Greg Bell last year but ultimately failed.

This Utah child support bill has drawn the ire of noncustodial parents who feel the data is inaccurate and that SB23 perpetuates the stereotype of the deadbeat dad and struggling mother to nearly all cases.

  • Imagine not being able to operate your car if 60 days behind on Utah child support payments. House Bill 15 would make this happen by allowing the Utah Office of Recovery Services to suspend noncustodial parent driver’s licenses after failing to make a child support payment in 60 days or more. Also introduced and rejected last year, HB15 is the work of State Representative Julie Fisher, who has proposed two other related bills as well.

Fisher’s HB18 would let the Office of Recovery Services electronically transfer monthly Utah child support payments from the banking accounts of eligible noncustodial parents instead of withholding this money from their paychecks.

HB32 would expand a pilot program which currently offers mediation to parents in Utah child visitation disputes in the 3rd District throughout the entire state.

  • House Bill 17 would make posting bond much more costly for delinquent noncustodial parents. Specifically, HB17 would make bond equal to 36 months of Utah child support payments. HB17 was introduced by Representative Lorie Fowlke, who has also penned related bills in the legislature.

House Bill 128

If becoming a part of Utah divorce laws, HB128 would not allow married couples to file for divorce without first filing a temporary separation order and also attending a divorce orientation course.

HB would include Halloween as a holiday for Utah child visitation purposes and allow overnight parent-time for infants who are 12 to 18 months old.

The legislative response to this problem with delinquent Utah child support payments reveals an important issue in not only this state but all other 49 states in the United States.

Child support was created to make sure that children have enough financial support for their everyday and most important needs. When a parent fails to make child support payments, he or she is not only breaking the law but also hurting the child or children involved.

If you’re ex-spouse is behind on child support payments or you need to learn more about how child support is calculated during the divorce process, speak to a lawyer in your area.