Change a Child Support Order
ORS looks at current child support orders to see if they should be changed. Known as “review and adjustment,” this process can be started by people who receive child support and by people who pay it.
Requests for review and adjustment must be made in writing.
ORS will not change child support orders when:
- We cannot locate the people on the child support order
- The youngest child will be 18 years old in the next 12 months
- A conflicting child support order is in place for the same case
ORS cannot make any changes to custody or visitation.
What Information Does ORS Need?
The focus of the process is on changes to income. To understand that, we usually ask the people on the child support order to send to us the following documents:
- ORS’s Financial Statement form, filled in by each parent
- Documents verifying each person’s yearly gross income (for example, a tax return)
- For judicial child support orders, a copy of the Findings of Fact
Additional information may be needed in some cases.
What Does ORS Look for with Review and Adjustment?
We want to understand what has changed since the current order was made. This is known as a “change in circumstances.”
Common changes relate to a parent’s income or employment. Others are to a child’s educational or medical needs.
Changes since the current order cannot be considered temporary. Here “temporary” means the changes should last fewer than 12 months.
If the child support order has changed in the last 3 years, changes to income have to make the child support order amount at least 15 percent higher or lower than the current amount. There must also be another change in circumstances. Otherwise, the order amount will stay the same.
If the child support order has not changed in the last 3 years, changes to income have to make the child support order amount at least 10 percent higher or lower than the current amount. Otherwise, the order amount will stay the same.
What Counts as a “Change in Circumstances”?
- Permanent changes to custody for the children on the order
- Permanent changes in the amount of money a parent earns
- Permanent changes in the ability of a parent to earn money. For example: a parent developing a disability
- Permanent change in the medical needs of the child
- Changes in the legal responsibilities of the parent. For example: a child emancipating
What Counts as Income for Review and Adjustment?
We base child support amounts on the equivalent of one full-time job. To calculate that, we sometimes combine multiple part-time jobs.
Social Security benefits, worker's compensation, and disability insurance benefits count as income.
Overtime and part-time jobs that take a person beyond the equivalent of one full-time job do not count as income for review and adjustment. We view these as temporary increases in income.
Similarly, benefits from Cash Assistance, Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI), and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) do not count as income.
Can ORS Change an Existing Judicial Child Support Order?
Yes, ORS can change existing judicial child support orders.
ORS works with the State of Utah Attorney General’s Office to petition the court for the people on the order. Our involvement does not change the judicial process or make it go more quickly.
What If a Parent Has a Protective Order or Similar Protections in Place?
ORS reviews and adjusts child support orders without violating protective orders or disclosing any safeguarded information.
ORS encourages parents with protective orders and similar protections to apply for and participate in the review and adjustment process.
What If a Parent Is Incarcerated?
When ORS learns that a person who pays child support will be incarcerated for more than 180 days, the law requires us to start a review process.
This process may lead us to lower the child support amount while the person is incarcerated. If this happens, the order will not change again until that person has been released. Once the person is released, we adjust the amount back up to a predetermined amount.
Does ORS Review and Adjust Orders without Being Requested?
Yes, in addition to incarceration, other situations can lead us to review orders. Some common situations when we do this include:
- Adding a medical insurance requirement to an order that was missing one
- Changes in state or federal laws
- A court order directing ORS to review an order for adjustment
- The order is 3 years old and the parent is receiving Cash Assistance
Can ORS Determine the Best Interest of the Child as Part of the Review and Adjustment Process?
No, ORS cannot decide about the best interests of the child in this process.
How Long Does the Review and Adjustment Process Take?
ORS tries to complete the review and adjustment process in 180 days. It can take longer if the court or another state is involved.