How Is Child Support Calculated in Connecticut?

As we discussed in our article “How Does Child Support Work in Connecticut,” child support stems from parents’ duty to support their minor children.  Read on to learn how child support is calculated in Connecticut.

How is Child Support Determined in Connecticut?

In determining child support, courts consider a multitude of factors as listed in Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-8 and explained here.  In addition to these factors, the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines provide a mathematical formula to provide some predictability and consistency when determining child support.

What are the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines?

Connecticut uses an “income shares model” for child support, which presumes that a child should receive the same proportion of parental income as he or she would have received if the parents lived together.  At their most basic level, the Child Support Guidelines are a mathematical formula based upon the income shares model.  What that means is that the calculation of child support under the Child Support Guidelines is based on the parents’ combined net income rather than on the actual costs (think necessary living expenses like food, shelter, and clothing) associated with raising a child.

How Does the Child Support Formula Work?

Under the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines, each parent’s net income is used to calculate support. “Net income” is defined as “gross income minus allowable deductions.”  Salary, commissions, bonuses, pension income, retirement income, and trust income can all be included in “gross income.”

Federal taxes, state taxes, Social Security, etc., and mandatory expenses like medical insurance premiums and mandatory retirement contributions, etc., are deducted from “gross income” in order to determine “net income.”

Both parties’ weekly net incomes are combined, and the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines then calculate a percentage based upon the income shares model described above, and how many children the parties have.  Each parent’s support obligation is determined by calculating the percentage that each parent contributes to the combined net weekly income. The amount calculated for the custodial parent is retained by that parent and presumably used for the support and maintenance of the child.  The amount calculated for the noncustodial parent becomes the presumed support order to be paid to the custodial parent.

What Happens When There is Shared Custody or Parenting?

The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines work on the premise that one parent is the custodial parent.  To learn more about what happens when there is shared custody or a shared parenting plan, click here.

What is the Minimum and Maximum Child Support in Connecticut?

The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines cover combined net weekly incomes ranging from \$50 a week to \$4,000 per week.  When parents have a combined net weekly income above \$4,000, child support is determined on a case-by-case basis.

What Happens if a Parent’s Income Changes?

The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines do not currently provide a mechanism for adjusting or reevaluating child support.  In order to modify a child support order, a party files a Motion for Modification with the court. Click here to learn more about when modifications child support orders may be necessary.  Or, if you already have an existing child support order, you can learn more about changing it in “How Do I Change My Child Support Payment.”

Can We Agree to a Child Support Payment That’s Different From the Calculation?

There is a presumption that child support calculated under the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines is the correct amount to be ordered by the court. However, there are particular circumstances in which a “deviation” from the presumptive amount of support provided for by the Guidelines is appropriate.

A deviation occurs when the parents agree between themselves to a lesser or higher amount of child support than is dictated by the formula, or when a Judge decides that the calculation under the Guidelines would be inequitable or inappropriate in a particular case.