Custodial parents: FAQs
Applying for Child Support
How Do I Open a Child Support Case?
Complete a child support application. Parents and relatives of a minor child can apply. Anyone receiving public assistance or Medicaid will automatically be referred to ORS for child support services
After I Open a Case, How Long Will It Take to Receive Child Support?
The amount of time between opening a case and receiving a payment varies.
In general, ORS will open a case record within 20 days of receiving an application. The next actions on the case include seeking to collect payments. You can find more information about the child support timeline on the Notice of Services.
ORS cannot guarantee that we will collect child support. But in our effort to collect, we will use as many tools as possible. These include comprehensive databases and serious enforcement actions.
The Noncustodial Parent Lives in Another State. Can ORS Still Collect Child Support?
Yes. When a noncustodial parent lives in another state, ORS has one of two options. It can send an income-withholding order directly to the parent's employer in the other state. Or it can ask the child support program in that state to collect.
Each state program operates independently from the others, but each state has to follow federal rules about how to handle a child support case.
If a case is sent to another state, the case becomes that state’s case. ORS cannot tell the other state what to do with the case.
What Information Does ORS Need to Proceed with a Case?
The more information you provide in the application, the better.
Documentation is especially important. Be sure to attach copies of the legal documents needed for your case. Common examples include birth certificates, Voluntary Declaration of Paternity documents, divorce decrees, court judgments, and earlier child support order modifications.
You will be contacted if ORS needs further information. If we do call or write to you, be sure to respond. If you do not respond, your case may be closed due to non-cooperation.
What If I Can’t Answer All of the Questions on the Application?
Try to answer all of the questions as best you can.
One way to find missing information is to look at documents such as tax forms, military papers, and vehicle registrations. You might also want to ask family members and friends. If you find more information after you submit the application, you can still call ORS to report it.
The information you give us often makes the biggest difference in what happens with your case. Although ORS can use state and federal tools to look for addresses and other information, some of that information may be out-of-date.
Payments and Changes to Payments
My Child’s Other Parent Just Got a Raise. Can I Get More Child Support?
A permanent change in the noncustodial parent’s income may affect the child support amount.
You can estimate the possible new amount using our online calculator. You can then request the change by contacting ORS.
Any change will only happen under the conditions of the review and adjustment process.
What If the Noncustodial Parent Pays Child Support to Another Custodial Parent?
When ORS receives a payment, we apply that payment to all current child support. If the noncustodial parent owes support to more than one custodial parent, we apply that payment to all the noncustodial parent’s cases.
If the payment amount is too small to cover the amount due on all of that person’s cases, we apply part of the payment to each case. The amount we apply is based on the overall amount owed.
Can ORS Send Payments to a Third Party?
No. Federal law requires ORS to send any payments directly to the custodial party on the child support case.
We also cannot change the custodial party’s address so that payments go to a third party.
What Kind of Enforcement Measures Can ORS Take?
ORS can take a variety of legal measures to collect child support.
An income-withholding order is the most common type of enforcement. This order requires the noncustodial parent’s employer to subtract child support from that person’s paycheck before they receive it.
Other enforcement tools include:
- Intercepting a tax return or stimulus payment
- Applying lien-levies to bank accounts
- Seizing personal property
- Filing a civil contempt case in court
- Filing criminal charges against someone with the means to pay but who refuses to do so
Each enforcement tool carries its own requirements and limitations that ORS and others must observe.
Contact ORS for more information about enforcement.
What Gives ORS the Power to Enforce Child Support Orders?
State and federal laws give ORS the power to enforce child support orders.
Within the state, the Utah Child Support Act gives ORS the authority to enforce the right of support on behalf of the oblige (the custodial party) against the obligor (the noncustodial parent).
Can I Use a Private Child Support Collection Agency While I Have a Case Open with ORS?
ORS will not automatically close your case if you contract with a private agency or attorney. But you will be required to tell ORS the name and address of the private agent.
You and the private agent must also keep ORS informed of actions taken on your behalf.
We cannot change the name of the payee on the case to the private agent or attorney.
Custody, Visitation, and Child Care
Can ORS Help with Custody and Visitation?
ORS cannot address legal custody or visitation issues. To settle questions of custody and visitation, we recommend getting professional legal help.
Utah law requires that child support follow the child. This means that ORS will enforce the child support order against the parent who does not have physical custody.
Sometimes neither parent has physical custody of the child. This happens when, for example, the child is living with a relative. In these cases, ORS will enforce the child support order against both parents.
If physical custody changes, ORS may enforce the child support order against the other parent (or parents) without changing the order.
If you do not know where the other parent is but need to enforce a court order for visitation or custody, we may be able to help. Contact ORS about sending an address request to the Federal Parent Locator Service.
Can ORS Collect Child Care?
ORS can collect child support but the child care amount must be part of the overall child support order. ORS cannot collect child care when the amount is being legally disputed.
If child care is past-due and you have a judgment for that amount from the court, ORS will try to collect the past-due child care.
How Do I Get Copies of Information about My Case?
For information about the release of information, please see the Utah Government Records and Access Management Act.
Who Do I Call for More Information?
Contact ORS at 801-536-8500. You can also email us at email@example.com.