Connecticut Child Support Basics
Child support is an important and complicated issue in Connecticut divorce and custody cases. Understanding Connecticut child support basics will help you make the best decisions for yourself and your family.
What is Covered By Child Support
Child support payments are meant to cover a broad range of expenses for the minor child, including the basics — shelter, food, and clothes. They do not include extracurricular activities, unreimbursed medical expenses, or summer camps. Under most circumstances, child support is paid until a child turns 18. When a child has not graduated from high school by age 18, child support payments typically continue until the earlier of the child’s (1) graduation from high school or (2) 19th birthday.
Amount of Child Support
When determining child support, the court shall consider the respective:
- earning capacity
- amount and sources of income
- vocational skills
of each of the parents and of the child, as well as the needs of the child. Contrary to a very common child support myth, shared physical custody alone does not relieve a parent of his or her child support obligation.
Connecticut Child Support Calculation
The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines provide a mathematical formula to provide some predictability and consistency when determining child support. Courts consider the guidelines in addition to (not instead of) the factors listed above. But that’s not the end of the story. Importantly, courts can “deviate” from default child support calculation based on the “deviation criteria” discussed below. Read: How Is Child Support Calculated in Connecticut? Read: How Does Child Support Work in Connecticut?
High Net Worth Divorce & Child Support
Connecticut Child Support Guidelines only address situations where the family’s combined net weekly income falls between $0 – $4,000. But what happens in families with a high net worth or high income? Child support is determined on a case-by-case basis for families where the parents’ combined exceeds $4,000. Read: What Happens to Trusts in Connecticut Divorces?
Child Support Deviations
For some families, it’s more appropriate to “deviate” from the calculation under the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines. Possible deviation criteria include:
The following are examples of permissible deviation criteria:
- certain other financial resources available to a parent
- extraordinary expenses for the care and maintenance of the child
- extraordinary parental expenses
- needs of a parent’s other dependents
- coordination of total family support.
Child support deviations are nuanced and Freed Marcroft’s family law attorneys are well-versed in the complexities. Deviations occur in all approaches to family law cases, including litigation, collaborative divorce, and mediation. Read: Do We Have to Follow the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines? Read: Paying for Private School After a Divorce
Child Support Modifications
If you are currently paying or receiving child support and you or ex have had a substantial change in circumstances, you may be able to get a Post Judgment child support modification to your payment requirements. For example, the court may increase child support if a parent has more income — for example, due to new, higher-paying employment, a growing business, or a significant raise. On the other hand, a court may reduce child support payments if a parent becomes disabled, or was laid off. It’s important to know that all child support modifications — even when you are your spouse agree — must be formalized through the court. Read: How Do I Change My Child Support Payment?
Enforcing Child Support Orders
The primary means to enforce child support orders is via a Motion for Contempt.
Generally speaking, the court doesn’t patrol when people are following its orders, which means you affirmatively need to bring the problem to the court’s attention. We do this by filing a Motion for Contempt. A Motion for Contempt seeks that the court rule that your spouse was in contempt and order your ex to follow the court order.