Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

New Utah bill proposes that sex offenders pay child support

The legal system can be complex and confusing for Salt Lake City residents to understand. What seems like a simple, straightforward issue can involve nuances and complications that leave the result anything but clear in certain cases. What's more, the law is constantly changing, as new laws are introduced in the legislature that change the way things are done, while courts interpret the existing laws in different ways depending on the circumstances of each case.

For instance, a bill was recently introduced in the Utah Legislature that proposes changes to the State's child support laws. The bill would require convicted sex offenders to pay child support, meaning the person would have to pay child support if he committed sexual assault and a child was born as a result. The child support would come about if the victim made a request for it in the courts.

The bill also contained separate provisions that would prevent that sex offender from getting child visitation or custody, absent consent from the guardian of the child. It remains to be seen whether the bill will pass and become law.

While the bill addresses a specific area of the law, it is important that individuals understand the broader child support laws and how visitation and child support are related. Typically, child support is established as part of a divorce, or it can be established when parentage is established in other cases where the parties are not married.

The amount of child support that is ordered will vary from case to case. However, there are guidelines in place as to how child support is to be calculated in all cases. These guidelines produce a calculation that looks at a number of factors, such as the non-custodial parent's income and ability to pay support each month. The goal is to set an amount of child support that will meet the child's needs, while also being a payment that the non-custodial parent can afford to pay each month based on his or her income.

Source: Fox 13, "Rapists may have to pay child support under bill in the Utah Legislature," Ben Winslow, Feb. 25, 2016

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