Establish Child Support Orders

To “establish” a child support order means to legally set and record that order. In Utah, both ORS and the courts have the power to establish child support orders.

As soon as a child support order is established with us, we begin to enforce the order.

The Process for Establishing Child Support

Exactly what happens during the child support process will depend on your specific case. 

At some point, though, most child support cases will involve:

  • Legally reviewing the child’s parentage. This is also known as establishing paternity. DNA testing may be required to determine parentage
  • Legally establishing child support amounts
  • Legally establishing medical support
  • Contacting employers to get income and insurance information
  • Serving the proposed child support order to the parents

Child Support Orders Outside of Court

The law gives ORS the power to establish paternity and child support orders. 

In most cases, establishing a child support order through our administrative process costs less than going to court and saves time. Our administrative orders have the same effect and are as valid as judicial child support orders.

Court Orders for Child Support

The court can also establish paternity and child support orders.

Judicial orders may be set in county, district, or juvenile courts. Those types of orders supersede the administrative orders set by ORS. 

Sometimes ORS is working to establish a child support case but finds that the same parties have a case pending in the courts. When that happens, ORS may ask the Attorney General’s office to intervene in the pending court case.

How Long It Will Take to Establish an Order

Like other legal processes, establishing a child support order can take time. It can also be unpredictable. 

ORS usually needs a few months to create a child support order when the parents’ addresses are known.  

If both parents agree to the child support and will sign the papers, an order can be finished in about a week through our administrative process.

Sometimes, the process can take a year or more. Some applications never lead to orders. For example, sometimes we cannot locate the other parent or find a Social Security number.

In general, ORS tries to establish a child support order in less than 6 months after both parties receive the legal paperwork.

Agreement and Information Can Make the Process Faster

The child support process almost always goes faster when parents can agree and can provide us with the information we need.

  • Agreement. Does the other parent on the case agree with decisions about the case? For example, does the other parent agree about paternity or the amount of child support? When parents disagree, courts may end up having to decide on the case
  • Information. Does ORS have the information we ask for on the child support application? More information normally speeds up the process. Probably the most important information is about the other parent, especially how to contact them and their employer

The Time between Getting a Child Support Order and Receiving a Payment

Once we have a child support order in place, ORS immediately begins to enforce the order. Collecting child support payments is central to enforcing the order. 

How long it takes to start collecting differs from case to case. A lot depends on whether the noncustodial parent is employed and how often they get paid.

Some custodial parents receive their first payment about a month after an order is established. Others may take longer. Some may only receive a payment after other enforcement tools have been used.

Child Support and Changes to Physical Custody

Most child support cases involve a parent without physical custody of the child (a noncustodial parent) paying support to a parent with physical custody (the custodial parent). 

If sole physical custody of the child changes, ORS can sometimes use the existing order to change which parent or party will receive payments. 

If someone disputes custody or the custodial parent is receiving public assistance, the parents have to resolve the custody issue first. Some support orders need to have the custody changed in court before the child support can change.

The same rules apply to child support cases involving relatives or legal guardians.