How courts determine parents’ income for child support

Utah courts follow a specific formula when calculating child support. This formula is based in part on the parents’ gross incomes. Sometimes the parents’ incomes are straightforward, such as when a parent works 40 hours per week for a set salary. When a parent has a second job, earns overtime, or has additional sources of funding, determining that parent’s income can be more complicated. Utah law provides guidelines to help courts determine income for purposes of calculating child support.

Utah law defines gross income as income from a variety of sources. Salaries, wages, bonuses, rent, gifts, commissions, trust income, dividends, pensions, severance pay, disability benefits, and Social Security benefits are just a few of the examples of what is considered income for purposes of child support. The list goes on. Basically, gross income can include many financial sources, with a few exceptions. 

Overtime pay is sometimes included in a parent’s income. This depends on whether the parent normally and consistently works more than 40 hours per week as part of his or her job.

In some circumstances, a court may impute income to a parent. This means that a court will assign a particular income to a parent based on what the court believes that parent could or should be earning. In deciding whether to impute income, the court considers factors such as the parent’s work history, qualifications, prior earnings, and possible employment opportunities.

There are certain situations in which courts cannot impute income even if the parent is not working. Examples include when a parent is mentally or physically unable to work, engaged in job training, or caring for a child with unusual physical or emotional needs. 

Calculating child support can be tricky. The amount of child support depends not only on the parents’ incomes but also on things like alimony, childcare costs, medical expenses, and the number of overnights each parent has with the children. To get help with your child support case, consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney. 

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