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Salt Lake City Family Law Blog

Child support enforcement options for failure to pay

This blog recently discussed options for parents to consider through the family law system if they need to seek a child support modification. Child support enforcement measures are designed to help parents seeking to enforce a child support order obtain the court-ordered child support they should be receiving. It is important not to ignore a valid child support order and to seek family law resources when a child support modification may be needed. Otherwise the parent who has failed to pay child support can face serious consequences and penalties.

Potential penalties and consequences for failure to pay child support include wage garnishment; seizure of property; withholding of federal tax refunds; suspending a business or occupational license; driver's license revocation; and the denial of a passport. In addition, though it is reserved for extreme circumstances, jail time is also possible as a potential penalty for failure to pay child support.

Making changes to child custody or child support

Life changes following a divorce and circumstances change as children grow and develop. As a result, parents may find that they need post-divorce modifications related to child support and child custody. Child support modifications and child custody modifications may be possible in certain circumstances. Until a child support or child custody modification has been granted by the family law court, however, it is important to abide by all child support and child custody orders.

Parents can seek a modification of child support or a modification of child custody and visitation from the family law court. In circumstances of child support, either the paying parent or the recipient parent can request a modification. Child support or child custody may be changed based on a significant change in circumstances. If a parent has lost a job or had a significant change to their job or health, a child support modification may be possible. In general, either a significant change in circumstances for the parent or the child may warrant a modification.

How is property divided in Utah?

Property division may be one of the most significant concerns a divorcing couple has. It can be helpful to understand it and have answers to important questions like what property will be divided. Utah follows equitable property division rules when dividing property during a couple's divorce. This means that the family law court will seek to divide marital property as fairly as possible.

Marital property general includes all property acquired during marriage. How property is categorized is important for property division purposes. To determine how to fairly divide that property, the family law court considers the length of the marriage; the age and health of the divorcing spouses; the occupations of the spouses; and the amounts and sources of income of the parties, as well as other related considerations.

The benefits of prenuptial agreements

Prenuptial agreements can do many helpful things beyond simply protecting a wealthy spouse. It is a helpful tool for couples entering a marriage to be familiar with for a variety of reasons. In addition to protecting the assets of one party, prenuptial agreements can protect one party from assuming the debts of the other party; direct how property will be passed if one spouse dies; clarify rights and responsibilities of the spouses during marriage; and avoid lengthy and costly disputes in the event of divorce.

It is important to understand that if the couple does not have a prenuptial agreement, state laws will determine how property is divided if the couple divorces. In most states, though they follow different property division laws in the event of divorce, without a prenuptial agreement the couple will share property acquired during the marriage; receive at least a portion of the other's property in the event of death; share equally in debts acquired during marriage; and share responsibilities for managing property acquired during marriage.

Utah offers classes for kids to help them understand divorce

It is important to help children through the divorce process. Just like children, parents can benefit from understanding the divorce process and knowing what to expect from it. Demystifying the process and understanding it in advance can help avoid angry or confused feelings that can be a part of the process at times. In Utah, state courts are offering a class to help children ages 9 to 12 understand and cope with divorce.

Two divorcing Utah parents recently noticed changes to their 10-year old son following the announcement of their divorce. They were pleased to sign him up for the course in Utah once a judge recommended it to them. The mother reported that her son was calmer after the class and seemed to understand the divorce process better. The class is designed to help children understand the legal aspects of the divorce process and learn how to discuss their feelings about their parent's divorce.

The important role of the adoption process

Adoption is a legal process that not only brings families together but can also help structure families based on their unique situation and circumstances. There are different types of adoption based on different circumstances and it is helpful to understand the overall adoption process and the benefits it provides. While the adoption process can be celebratory, it can also be complicated so it helps to understand it.

Adoption options are varied, as are families and the structure that families come in. Agency adoption is one type of adoption and is considered a traditional form of adoption. Private adoptions are also another option that may be available when the adoptive parents have located a biological mother that wishes to have her child adopted. Single-parent adoptions are another type of adoption it can be important to be familiar with when seeking an adoption as a single individual.

Can I modify a child custody order in Utah?

This blog has previously discussed post-divorce modifications to child support. In addition to modifications to child support orders, child custody modifications may also be needed following a divorce as life and circumstances change. Post-divorce modifications of child custody orders may be possible in certain circumstances but to begin with, it is helpful to understand the different types of child custody arrangements in Utah.

There are different types of child custody including sole custody and joint custody. In addition, parents can have physical custody or legal custody of the children which can also be sole or joint. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with and legal custody refers to which parent has the right to make important decisions for the child. If one parent receives sole custody, the other parent will receive parenting time. Sole and joint physical and legal custody can be designated in different combinations based on what is considered in the best interests of the child given the circumstances of the child and family.

Different types of adoption may be available to families

Adoption is an important way that many families begin and grow. It is helpful, therefore, to understand adoption options and the legal technicalities sometimes associated with the adoption process. There are several different processes through which a child may be adopted including agency adoptions, independent adoptions, adoptions through identification and international adoption, among some others.

Agency adoption can refer to both public and private agencies that are licensed and regulated by the states to provide adoption services. Many children adopted through the agency adoption process are wards of the state or are in other similar circumstances, as they may have been abused, abandoned or orphaned. Independent adoptions may be arranged, alternately, directly through the birth parents and may be facilitated through clergy or a doctor. The laws concerning the regulation and availability of independent adoptions vary by state so it is helpful to be familiar with the local laws. It is important that any adoption is carefully documented, however, it may be even more important in circumstances of a private adoption.

How do I modify my child support order?

Child support modifications may be a significant concern for many parents who have a child support order as the circumstances of life change following a divorce or the establishment of an initial child support order. Parents may wonder if a child support modification is possible, under what circumstances it might be possible and how they can request a child support modification. Under both federal and state laws, individuals who have a child support order have the right to request a review of their child support order. The Office of Recovery Services/Child Support Services in Utah conducts the review and the child support amount can go up or down.

A request for review of the child support amount can be made by either parent and must be made in writing. Following the request in writing, the Office of Recovery Services/Child Support Services will request certain information and documents to help them review the request and certain information may be required on a case-by-case basis. Verification of each parent's income is needed when requesting a modification.

Understanding the impact of a paternity action

A determination of paternity has a number of important legal and emotional impacts for families. It can be an important to determine for child support and child custody purposes, as well as for purposes related to medical concerns or inheritance. A paternity action is a legal action to determine the legal identity of the father of a child. Paternity is determined by a DNA test that can be ordered by the court which will then legally establish the identity of the child's father.

A paternity action may be brought by a mother seeking child support or by a father seeking child custody rights. Paternity can be established through different methods depending on the circumstances of the child and parents, however, a paternity action is one option to enjoy the legal rights and emotional benefits of a legal determination of paternity.

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Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law
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