Is Using a Child Support Calculator Accurate?


Orem Family Law Lawyer

In addition to parenting your kids once the divorce is finalized, dealing with child support issues is not easy. What makes these legal matters more complicated is the fact that child support guidelines may vary from state to state, and relevant statutes may differ depending on the jurisdiction. For Utah residents, in particular, child support services are offered by the Utah Department of Human Services Office of Recovery Services (ORS). Among other things, they can help locate an absent parent, establish paternity, establish child support, modify child support, and enforce child support orders.

One may apply for ORS services, although they are automatic for families receiving public assistance. One must keep in mind, however, that ORS does not have the authority to settle child custody issues. If you need legal help for issues related to child custody, particularly those that may need to be brought to court, it is highly recommended to consult with a trusted Orem family law lawyer.

What this article will cover are the following:

  • Basics of paying child support
  • Calculating monthly child support payments
  • Using legal calculators


Basics of Paying Child Support

While divorce laws are generally associated with the dissolution of marriage and divorce cases, they are also referred to when determining how much child support is to be allocated. In general, child support laws take into account the monthly income levels of both parents vis-a-vis expenses related to raising the child.

Pursuant to relevant state law, every child is entitled to be supported by both parents until they reach the age of 18, which is also the age of emancipation in Utah. Child support enforcement is a joint effort of the federal and state government to help families obtain and enforce child support orders. In case circumstances change (such as the increased income of either parent, decreased ability to provide support, or additional needs of a child) modification of child support is a possibility. 

For tax law purposes, it might be helpful to know that child support is not considered taxable income. This would mean that the parent receiving child support payments does not have to claim such an amount on their federal income tax return. Conversely, the parent paying child support may not deduct any amount of child support paid from his or her taxable income.

Calculating Child Support Payments

In determining the amount of child support payments, the needs of the child, the number of children in need of support, the income of each parent, and other related factors are taken into account by the family court. Generally, payments for child support are calculated through a formula established by the Utah State Legislature.

The Utah child support calculator is useful in getting estimates from pertinent information provided, although such are based upon one parent having primary custody. The actual amount ordered by the court for a particular child support case could be different from the amount estimated by this calculator. Additionally, since these calculators assume that all of the children will primarily live with one parent, it may not be very helpful in split custody or joint physical custody cases.

Because many other factors affect the actual child support order entered by a court, it is important to seek legal advice from hands-on Orem family law attorneys to calculate child support.

Using Legal Calculators

While a child support calculator is essentially based on statutory guidelines, its nature is mostly informational. Extraordinary expenses are not taken into consideration and other factors may affect the amount of child support awarded. Figures from a legal calculator are only an estimate and shall not be taken as a guarantee of the amount of child support that will be awarded. It is still the court that has the final authority to determine the amount of the child support award.

To illustrate, however, the calculator will estimate your monthly child support payment based on the following:

  • Number of children who are the subject of the pending action
  • Gross monthly income of the custodial parent
  • Amount of monthly child support or spousal support (alimony) paid to a spouse from a prior marriage of the custodial parent
  • Cost of family group health insurance paid by the custodial parent each month
  • Gross monthly income of the non-custodial parent
  • Amount of monthly child support or spousal support (alimony) paid to a spouse from a prior marriage of the non-custodial parent
  • Cost of family group health insurance paid by the non-custodial parent each month
  • Cost of daycare paid by a custodial parent each month

To make use of the child support calculator, the appropriate information must be entered for each statement. Clicking the ‘Calculate’ button after the form is filled out will give one an estimate of the amount of child support that the non-custodial parent will have to pay to the custodial parent. Again, these are primarily educational. It is best to seek advice from a legal expert to know more about the child support program.

Seeking Legal Help from a Divorce and Family Law Expert

Child support is considered as the financial contribution of non-custodial parents to the raising and upbringing of the child, which is given to custodial parents. While child support expenses may seem straightforward (covering food, shelter, clothing, and medical care), how these are determined is not as simple as it seems. Contact our family law firm for assistance on child support cases. Call us at the Gravis Law and consult with an experienced family law attorney.