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Office of Recovery Services

Children in Care
Frequently Asked Questions


Table of Contents

  1. Why does a parent have a financial obligation when legal custody of their child is given to the state, department or agency?
  2. Why do I have to pay the full monthly support amount when my child was only in care for a few days during the month?
  3. How much child support will I have to pay while my child is in state care?
  4. How does ORS determine the amount of support when parents are divorced versus parents who are married?
  5. How can I find out who my agent is?
  6. What is the process ORS uses for establishing a parent's monthly support obligation?
  7. How do I pay this support amount?
  8. Are stepparents required to pay support for stepchildren in state care?
  9. Will I still receive child support for my child in state care?
  10. My child received a Medicaid card when he was placed in state custody. Why do I have an obligation to carry medical and dental insurance for my child, when the state gave my child a Medicaid card?
  11. What if my income goes down or I lose my job while my child is in state care?
  12. What if I change jobs or move out of state?
  13. What happens if I owe support for another case too?
  14. If my child is still in state care after he turns 18, do I still have to pay support?
  15. Is there a process to waive or suspend the child support payments?

Questions and Answers

Why does a parent have a financial obligation when legal custody of their child is given to the state, department, division or agency?

Utah Code Annotated 78A-6-1106 requires that when a child is placed in the care or custody of the state, the court shall order the parents or any other obligated person to pay child support for each month the child is in care. Based on this law, the juvenile court judge orders the parents of the child placed in state's custody to contribute to the support of that child.

Parents whose children are placed in one of the following divisions/programs are required to contribute financial support toward their child's care.

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Why do I have to pay the full monthly support amount when my child was only in care for a few days during the month?

In accordance with Utah Code Annotated 30-3-10.5 child support is due on the first day of each month. If a child is in state care on the first day of the month the full support obligation is due for that month. If a child is placed in care after the first day of the month, a support obligation will not be charged until the following month, if the child remains in care.

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How much child support will I have to pay while my child is in state care?

Although the cost of supporting a child in some programs can be very expensive, a parent's monthly child support obligation is based on the Utah Child Support Guidelines, which are established by the Utah State Legislature. The state of Utah uses an "income based" child support model; therefore, the amount a parent is required to pay toward their child's care is based on their income and the number of natural or adopted children. Because the Child Support Guidelines are used to determine the support amount, parents are responsible for only a small portion of the actual cost the state has incurred.

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How does ORS determine the amount of support when parents are divorced versus parents that are married?

Parents who are divorced, separated, or were never married have separate child support obligations and separate cases with ORS/CIC. In accordance with Utah Code Annotated 78-45-4.4, if there is an existing child support order for the child in care, ORS/CIC may charge the amount stated in the existing order. For example, if a parent is currently ordered in a divorce decree to pay $200 a month for the child in care, ORS/CIC will charge a monthly support amount of $200 while the child remains in care. If the parent's income has changed (either increased or decreased) since the original order was issued, either ORS/CIC or the parent may request a review of the support amount. If a review is requested and the criteria found in Utah Code Annotated 62A-11-320.5 or 320.6 is met, ORS/CIC will establish a new support amount that will be valid only while the child is in care.

Married parents (of the child in care) have a combined support obligation and case with ORS/CIC. Typically, married parents of the child in care have not been previously ordered to pay child support. When there is no existing child support order, ORS/CIC will establish a support amount based on the Utah Child Support Guidelines that will be used while the child is in states care.

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How do I find out who my agent is?

Given the nature of the child support collections 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 workers 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, please call the Office of Recovery Services/Children in Care (ORS/CIC) bureau after your child is placed in care. Call (801) 536-8770 for the Division of Child and Family Services, the Division of Juvenile Justice Services placements, and guardianship placements; call (801) 536-8817 for the Division of Services for People with Disabilities, the State Hospital, or other placements. The receptionist will refer you to the appropriate worker.

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What is the process ORS uses for establishing a parent's monthly support obligation?

Once a child is placed in the state's care, the parent, or other obligated person ordered to pay support should contact ORS as soon as possible. The purpose of calling ORS/CIC is to provide us with pertinent information (e.g. address, place of employment, health insurance information, etc.) needed to open a case. After the case is opened, the process of determining a support order will differ depending on whether the parent is previously ordered to pay support for the child in care.

If the parent is previously ordered to pay for the child in care, ORS/CIC will begin enforcing on the amount stated in the existing support order and determine whether a review of the support obligation should be conducted in accordance with Utah Code Annotated 62A-11-320.5 or 62A-11-320.6. ORS/CIC will send the parent a letter and Financial Statement to notify him/her of the obligation amount. If the parent would like ORS to review the amount they are ordered to pay, they may complete and return a financial statement with their financial verification (i.e. pay stubs, tax returns).

If the parents are not previously ordered to pay support for the child in care, ORS/CIC will send a Notice of Agency Action, Financial Statement, and Hearing Request to the parents shortly after the child is placed in care. The parents have thirty (30) days to return the completed financial statement with their income verification (i.e. pay stubs, W2's and taxes). Based on the information provided by the parents, ORS will calculate the monthly payment by using the Utah Child Support Guidelines. After completing an assessment ORS will send the parents a stipulation agreement. If the parents disagree with the amount, they may request an agency conference with an ORS Program Presiding Officer by returning the completed Hearing Request Form. If the parents are not satisfied with the Program Presiding Officer's decision, they may then request a hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings.

You can estimate your monthly payments by using the tables contained in Utah Code Annotated 78-45-7.14 or refer to the ORS on-line Child Support Calculator.

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How do I pay this support amount?

Federal law 42 USC 653A(g)(1)(A)(i) requires ORS to send a mandatory income withholding to your employer within 2 business days in most child support cases. Income withholding means your employer will deduct child support from your paycheck and send it to ORS. An exception may be allowed for collection of support for children in care at the State Hospital or children receiving care through the Division of Services for People with Disabilities; however, delinquencies will result in a mandatory income withholding.

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Are stepparents required to pay support for stepchildren in state care?

A stepparent is not required by law to pay a support obligation for stepchildren unless he/she adopts the child in care. However, in accordance with Utah Code Annotated 78-3a-906, the juvenile court judge may order the parents or any other obligated person (e.g. stepparent) to pay child support for the child in care.

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Will I still receive child support for my child in state care?

Utah Code Annotated 62A-1-117 requires child support be assigned to ORS/CIC when a child is placed in protective custody, temporary custody, or state care for at least 30 days. In accordance with this law, if a parent receives child support for a child while he or she is in the states care, the parent who received the support will be required to pay the amount to their ORS/CIC case. In addition, if a parent is receiving child support through the Office of Recovery Services/Child Support Services (ORS/CSS), ORS/CIC will open a case and collect the portion of current support for the child in care.

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My child received a Medicaid card when he was placed in state custody. Why do I have an obligation to carry medical and dental insurance for my child, when the state gave my child a Medicaid card?

Medicaid is NOT insurance. When a child receives medical services, any private insurance will be billed first. Medicaid is the payor of last resort.

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What if my income goes down or I lose my job while my child is in state care?

ORS/CIC 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 of the child support amount. ORS/CIC will review your order to determine whether a new amount should be established for the remaining time frame your child is in states care. This means, that once your child is released from state care, the amount in your original order becomes effective again. Before you request a review, you may want to estimate what your child support payment will be if a new amount is established while your child is in care. To calculate the new support amount and print copies of the necessary forms and worksheets click here. Consult with your ORS/CIC agent if you need more information about requesting a review.

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What if I change jobs or move out of state?

By law (U.C.A. 62A-11-304.2(7), you are required to keep ORS/CIC apprised of your whereabouts. If you change jobs or addresses, call your ORS agent with the new information as soon as possible.

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What happens if I owe support for another case too?

When ORS/CIC 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 it's proportionate share.

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If my child is still in state care after he turns 18, do I still have to pay support?

A parent is required to pay an obligation until their child becomes 18 years of age, or has graduated from high school during the child's normal and expected year of graduation, whichever occurs later.

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Is there a process to waive or suspend the child support payments?

Administrative Rule R495-879-5 allows the Good Cause Deferral/Waiver request (DHS Form 602) to be used as criteria to deviate from the child support guidelines. This form MUST be completed by the Division or Institution who has custody of the child or who is providing services to the child on behalf of the parent(s). Generally, this will be the case manager or someone working closely with the child and the parent(s).

The waiver may only be submitted after the following occur:

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