The Office of Recovery Services (ORS) will assist a recipient spouse to collect child support from the obligor. In fact, any time a court enters an order for child support, the order must include a provision for income withholding (or, in other words, wage garnishment) that allows for the collection of child support from the obligor by ORS. See Utah Code Section 30-3-5.1.
Income withholding by ORS of the payor’s wages will typically apply, even if the payor is not behind on his or her support obligation, unless good reason exists for the court not to apply income withholding. See Utah Code Sections 62A-11-404, 502.
ORS also has the authority to issue administrative orders regarding child support. See Utah Code Section 62A-11-304.2.
ORS has authority to pursue court action with respect to withholding, revoking, or suspending driver’s licenses, and professional and recreational licenses of parties who owe past due support. See Utah Code Section 62A-11-107 (5).
There are certain procedural safeguards and specific requirement for when ORS may seek suspension of an individual’s driver’s license for prolonged failure to pay child support. Payment in full of any delinquency or good faith payment arrangements based on employment and financial ability will tend to avoid this drastic remedy. Terms of reinstatement of a suspended license are also provided by law. See Utah Code Sections 62A-11-602, 603.
ORS will not typically garnish wages for spousal support (alimony) alone. However, it will garnish wages to collect alimony if there is also a concurrent child support order.
If the paying spouse maintains health insurance for the benefit of the minor children, he or she is typically entitled to a credit against his or her support obligation for one half of the out-of-pocket cost of the children’s portion of the premium. The parent must provide ORS with the insurance information in order to receive the credit.
If a parent is court ordered to maintain health insurance through his or her employer and fails to do so, ORS may notify the employer to enroll the children in
The ORS may impose an annual fee of $25 to be collected from the recipient spouse’s child support if the custodial parent has never received TANF (temporary aid to needy families) benefits. See Utah Code Section 62A-11-303.7.
The maximum amount that may be garnished from an individual’s paycheck from an administrative or judicial judgment for failure to support dependent children is 50% of his or her disposable earnings for the work pay period. See Utah Code Section 62A-11-316 (4).
Recipients of public cash financial assistance are required to assign their right to child support to the State of Utah, which may keep the child support collected until the financial assistance benefits paid to the recipient have been recovered. Anyone receiving public cash financial assistance is required to deal in good faith with ORS. See Utah Code Section 35A-3-108. See also Utah Code Section 62A-11-307.2.
Each installment of child support becomes a judgment on the day after it becomes due and ORS may file judgment liens against real estate of the debtor and levy personal property of the debtor that is in possession of third parties. Utah Code Section 62A-11-312.5.
Utah Code Section 62A-11-327 sets forth the circumstances in which ORS may report past due support to consumer reporting agencies.
ORS will assist a parent in adjusting a child support order that is at least three years old if there is a change of 10% or more between the amount currently ordered and the amount that would be required by the child support guidelines, and the difference is not of a temporary nature. No showing of substantial change of circumstances is necessary if these requirements are met. The change must be in the children’s best interests. See Utah Code Section 62A-11-320.5.
An obligor may also request income withholding. See Utah Code Section 62A-11-414. I have seen parents with a child support obligation prefer to have income withholding for reasons such as accounting and convenience (i.e., not having to worry about cutting a check to the other parent each month and keeping a detailed paper trail or accounting).
An obligor may make arrangements with ORS for electronic funds transfer from his or her account to the obligee, in lieu of income withholding. See Utah Code Section 62A-11-703.
ORS will collect child support arrears but only until four years after the youngest child reaches the age of 18, or for eight years after child support arrears have been reduced to a sum certain judgment by a Utah court, whichever is longer. A sum certain judgment may be renewed to extend its duration. See Utah Code Section 78B-5-202 (6) (a). See also Seeley v. Park, 532 P.2d 684 (Utah 1975).
The ORS will only collect ongoing cash medical support or child care expenses if there is a specific dollar amount in a court order and neither parent disputes the amount of child care expenses. ORS will attempt to enforce judgments for past due amounts if the parent obtains a judgment from district court.
ORS currently charges a $5.00 processing fee to the application each time a payment is processed and sent by mail. The processing fee, however, will not exceed $10 per month.
It is important to keep in mind that ORS does not represent either parent. They are assisted by attorneys from the state attorney general’s office, who represent the state. Parents seeking specific legal advice should contact a private attorney.
In sum, ORS provides comprehensive child support services and has fairly broad powers to issue and enforce child support orders. It should be apparent from this synopsis that the state takes seriously parents’ primary obligations to support their dependent children. My experience has been that almost all parents, even in vigorously contested divorce or custody cases, recognize the need to provide adequately for their children to the best of their abilities.
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.