Is a Mother in Utah obligated to support their minor child?

Full Question:

My schoolmate is living with her mother in Utah after her father's death. She is about to quit her schooling since her mother is not paying anything for her living. Can she sue her mother for non-support?
03/08/2017   |   Category: Minors ยป Support   |   State: Utah   |   #33572

Answer:

Yes, she can sue her mother for criminal nonsupport since her mother knowingly failed to provide for her support in a needy circumstance. In Utah, if a mother knowingly failed to provide for the support of her child, who is under the age of 18 years and is in needy circumstances, she has committed the offense of criminal nonsupport. It is a class A misdemeanor which is punishable for a term not exceeding one year and a fine up to $ 2,500 upon conviction. So your friend’s mother may be punishable up to one year and upon conviction she may have to pay a fine up to $ 2,500 as she has committed a class A misdemeanor.

Utah Code Ann. § 76-7-201 reads:

 “(1) A person commits criminal nonsupport if, having a spouse, a child, or children under the age of 18 years, he knowingly fails to provide for the support of the spouse, child, or children when any one of them:
 
     (a) is in needy circumstances; or
 
     (b) would be in needy circumstances but for support received from a source other than the defendant or paid on the defendant's behalf.
 
(2) Except as provided in Subsection (3), criminal nonsupport is a class A misdemeanor.
 
(3) Criminal nonsupport is a felony of the third degree if the actor:
 
     (a) has been convicted one or more times of nonsupport, whether in this state, any other state, or any court of the United States;
 
     (b) committed the offense while residing outside of Utah; or
 
     (c) commits the crime of nonsupport in each of 18 individual months within any 24-month period, or the total arrearage is in excess of $ 10,000.
 
(4) For purposes of this section "child" includes a child born out of wedlock whose paternity has been admitted by the actor or has been established in a civil suit.
 
(5)  (a) In a prosecution for criminal nonsupport under this section, it is an affirmative defense that the accused is unable to provide support. Voluntary unemployment or underemployment by the defendant does not give rise to that defense.
 
     (b) Not less than 20 days before trial the defendant shall file and serve on the prosecuting attorney a notice, in writing, of his intention to claim the affirmative defense of inability to provide support. The notice shall specifically identify the factual basis for the defense and the names and addresses of the witnesses who the defendant proposes to examine in order to establish the defense.
 
     (c) Not more than 10 days after receipt of the notice described in Subsection (5)(b), or at such other time as the court may direct, the prosecuting attorney shall file and serve the defendant with a notice containing the names and addresses of the witnesses who the state proposes to examine in order to contradict or rebut the defendant's claim.
 
     (d) Failure to comply with the requirements of Subsection (5)(b) or (5)(c) entitles the opposing party to a continuance to allow for preparation. If the court finds that a party's failure to comply is the result of bad faith, it may impose appropriate sanctions.”
 
Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-204 reads:

“A person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor may be sentenced to imprisonment as follows:
 
     (1) In the case of a class A misdemeanor, for a term not exceeding one year . . ..”

Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-301 reads:
“(1) A person convicted of an offense may be sentenced to pay a fine, not exceeding:
     ***
     (c) $ 2,500 for a class A misdemeanor conviction . . ..”