Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the function of the Office of Recovery Services Child Support Program?
- What authority does ORS/CSS have to collect child support?
- What if I am not sure I am the child's father?
- How much child support will I have to pay?
- What if my income goes down or I lose my job?
- Does child support have to come out of my paycheck?
- What if my ex-spouse is receiving public assistance? Why do I have to pay support too?
- What if I don't know if my kids are receiving public assistance? Should I still pay support?
- What if I paid the rent and bought food for my kids instead of paying cash child support to the custodial parent?
- ORS/CSS says I owe more than I think I do. What can I do to correct this?
- How do I find out who my agent is?
- What about custody and visitation issues? Why should I have to pay when the other parent won't let me see the kids?
- What if I change jobs or move out of state?
- What happens if I owe support to another family too?
- I have also been contacted by a private agency to collect my child support. Is this legal?
- Who do I call for more information?
- How do I get copies of information pertaining to my case?
The Office of Recovery Services (ORS) is an agency located within the Utah Department of Human Services . Within ORS, Child Support Services (CSS) is responsible for collecting child and medical support. Services include locating absent parents, establishing paternity, establishing and modifying child support orders, and enforcing child support and medical insurance obligations. ORS/CSS also collects spousal support (alimony) if a dollar amount is ordered with child support in the divorce decree. Remember, both parents are responsible for supporting their children. It does not matter what your relationship is with the other parent, the children deserve to have a living standard that is only possible when both parents contribute to the household finances. Child support is a legal responsibility - a financial responsibility that must come first - for the kids' sake.
ORS/CSS is a federally funded state agency, which means that many of the actions taken by ORS/CSS are regulated and/or mandated by federal and state law. It is every parent's legal responsibility to support his/her child, whether or not the child's parents live together. When child support is not being paid, ORS/CSS often becomes involved. A case is opened at ORS/CSS whenever a custodial parent or relative begins receiving public assistance, or when a custodial parent or relative requests ORS/CSS to collect child support. Non-custodial parents may also apply for services. ORS/CSS does not legally represent either parent. Rather, ORS/CSS' role is to collect on behalf of the children.
If ORS/CSS is contacting you regarding a paternity (fatherhood establishment) proceeding, it is because we have received information from the custodial parent stating that you are or may be the father of the child. If you agree that you are, paternity can be established very quickly and easily, at no additional cost to you. If you disagree or are unsure that you are the father, the most important thing to remember is DO NOT IGNORE ORS/CSS CORRESPONDENCE! If you fail to answer the legal documents, fail to show up for hearings, etc., you may be deemed the father by a court or administrative order because you have failed to respond and thereby defaulted on your opportunity to make your objections known. If you truly do not think you are the father, ORS/CSS can arrange genetic paternity tests to determine whether you are the father. Again, it is extremely important that you cooperate with ORS/CSS when you are contacted regarding a paternity claim. You may hire a private attorney at any point in time, if you wish.
In Utah, child support obligations are computed using an income shares formula, using a calculation table established by the Utah State Legislature . This means that both parent's income is used to compute the monthly child support amount. The number of children needing support and other factors are also used to determine how much you will be required to pay. Child support worksheets and tables are available at each Clerk of the Court office and in every ORS office.
ORS/CSS will collect child support based on the amount in the order that is currently in effect. If your income permanently changes, you may wish to pursue a review and adjustment of the child support order. ORS/CSS will review orders to determine whether the amount should be modified, but usually not more often than once every three years from the last date the order was established or modified. Before you request a review, you may want to estimate what your child support payment could change to if the order is modified. To calculate the new support amount you will need a pre-review packet consisting of child support guidelines worksheets, instructions and tables. To find out information about a pre-review packet and to view and print copies of the necessary forms and worksheets, click here . Consult the Customer Service Unit in the appropriate ORS/CSS office if you need more information about requesting a review.
Yes, unless your support order was issued or modified before October 13, 1990 and you always paid your support on time. Income withholding is an easy way to meet your child support obligation because your employer withholds the appropriate amount from your paycheck and sends it directly to ORS/CSS. You do not have to worry about going to the bank, writing a check, finding a stamp, etc. The majority of Utah employers withhold child support from many employees' paychecks each pay period. Paying through income withholding is no longer indicative of a delinquency. It is simply viewed as a no fuss way to meet your monthly obligation.
When children are receiving state assistance, ORS/CSS automatically provides child support services to the family because the amount of grant money the custodial parent receives each month accrues as a debt to the state which you (the non-custodial parent) must repay. In other words, when your children are receiving monthly support in the form of public assistance, the child support you owe for that month must go to the state to offset the debt. You will be required to repay this money until the debt is satisfied, even if the custodial parent goes off public assistance, and even if you and the custodial parent reconcile. If the child support owed during the times of public assistance exceeds the total grant amount paid to the family, the excess amount will be sent to the custodial parent.
ORS/CSS will notify you if and when the custodial parent begins receiving state assistance. Once you are notified by ORS/CSS that the custodial parent is receiving state assistance, or you find out on your own, do not pay the custodial parent child support directly. All ordered child support payments must be paid to ORS/CSS so your case can be properly credited. If you have paid the custodial parent ordered child support directly, you must provide ORS/CSS with proof of those payments (canceled checks, receipts, etc.) in order to receive credit.
ORS/CSS may give credit to non-custodial parents for "in-kind" support payments that have been made in lieu of cash support payments when certain conditions exist. For example, if the non-custodial parent was ordered to pay the house payment instead of paying child support. Or, there is a written in-kind support agreement between the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent that has been filed with the court, and ORS/CSS had notice of the agreement and registered no objection when the custodial parent applied for cash assistance.
ORS/CSS may also give credit if there is no support order and the non-custodial parent has made in-kind support payments to or on behalf of the custodial parent or child(ren), and payment was made prior to the date the non-custodial parent received notice from ORS/CSS. The non-custodial parent must provide verification of the in-kind payment, e.g., canceled checks or notarized statements signed by the custodial parent.
As the person owing support, the burden of proof is yours to dispute the amount of child support the custodial parent is claiming is owing or the amount ORS/CSS states you have paid. This can be done by providing proof of payment, such as canceled checks. It is also your responsibility to provide ORS/CSS with proof of income, proof of medical insurance and any changes to your address or employer information.
Prior to any administrative action to collect support, ORS/CSS will send you an Annual Notice of Past-due Child Support, or other document which outlines how and when you can dispute the alleged facts of your case, including the amount of support owed. Again, the most important thing for you to remember is do not ignore ORS/CSS correspondence . Failure to respond could result in collection actions, such as your Federal and State tax refunds being intercepted, or withholding up to 65% of your disposable income. Whenever you have a question or concern about your case, immediately contact the person listed on the ORS notice, or call the Customer Service Unit in the ORS office nearest to you
Given the nature of the child support collection process, and the growing caseload, you may have many different people working on your case at various points in the process. If you receive a letter or a notice, look to see if there is a worker name and number at the bottom of the letter. This is the appropriate person to call directly if you have a question about the notice or letter. Otherwise, call the Customer Service Unit in the closest ORS office and they will research your case and either address your issues themselves, or refer you to the appropriate worker. Although you may not speak to the same person each time you contact CSU, each CSU representative is capable of assisting you with any questions, concerns or issues you have regarding your case.
It's true that kids need both parents, emotionally and financially. Unfortunately, both parents don't always put kids first when making daily decisions, whether it is deciding whether to pay support or to let the other parent visit with the children. As far as ORS is concerned, visitation and custody are usually court ordered and therefore just as legally required as child support. However, ORS/CSS does not provide services regarding establishing or enforcing custody and visitation orders. Non-custodial parents must pay child support in accordance with an existing child support order, regardless of whether the custodial parent is following the order regarding custody and visitation. Utah law requires the child support obligation to follow the child. This means we will enforce the obligation against the parent who does not have physical custody of the child. If neither parent has physical custody of a child who is living with a relative, we will enforce the obligations of both parents. When physical custody of the child changes, we may enforce the obligation against the other parent (or parents) without modifying the order.
If you are trying to establish or enforce a court order for visitation or custody and you do not know the location of the other parent, you may petition a court with proper jurisdiction to submit a request to ORS/CSS to access the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) on your behalf. You may NOT submit a request directly or through private counsel.
By law (U.C.A. 62A-11-304.2(7)), you are required to keep ORS/CSS apprised of your whereabouts. If you change jobs or addresses, call the Customer Service Unit in the appropriate ORS office with the new information as soon as possible. This way, your children will continue to receive the support to which they are entitled, without interruption or delay.
When ORS/CSS receives a payment, the payment is applied to all current support. When support is owed to more than one custodial parent but the payment amount is not enough to cover the current support due on each case, the payment is prorated so each case receives its proportionate share.
We are aware of several private collection agencies in the business of collecting past-due child support. Any custodial parent not receiving public assistance may contract with such an agency, or hire a private attorney, and at the same time have a case open with ORS/CSS. If you have any questions or concerns about this, contact the Customer Service Unit in the nearest ORS office.
For more information about child support services, including processing time frames, fees, etc., please read the Notice of Services. Also, for general information or for information about your case, you may call the Customer Service Unit in any of the ORS offices.
For information regarding release of information, please refer to Utah Code governing the Government Records and Access Management Act .