How Do I Change My Child Support Payment?
We are often asked “How do I change my child support payment?”
The short answer is that there is no automatic recalculation of child support, you have to file a Motion for Modification.
Connecticut Child Support Guidelines
In “How Is Child Support Calculated in Connecticut?” we learned that 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.
Motion to Modify Child Support
The parent who wants to change (or “modify”) an existing child support order must show a “substantial change in circumstances.”
Substantial Change In Circumstances
Some examples of changes that might justify modification would be:
- an increase (or decrease) in one parent’s income
- an increased need for support
- or a permanent change parenting plan
Any changes to a parenting plan must be in the child’s best interests.
Definition of “Substantial”
If the difference between an existing award and the amount determined by a new analysis and application of the current guidelines varies by more than 15%, it will generally be considered “substantial.” However, this isn’t automatic, and won’t result in a change in the child support order in every situation.
Agreement to Modify Child Support
Parents can agree between themselves to a lesser or higher amount of child support, or when a Judge decides that the modification is appropriate. In both cases, the modification needs to be in the best interests of the child.
Even Agreements to Modify Need to Be Court Orders
Parents should consult with experienced family law counsel before agreeing to any changes to child support — an agreement between parents to modify is not a binding court order until it is entered and ruled upon by a court. In the meantime, the original court order on child support stands.
End of Child Support
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, whichever comes first.
In Connecticut the support obligation normally continues until a child who has finished high school turns 18, or until a full-time high school student completes twelfth grade or turns 19, whichever occurs first.
College and Post Secondary Support
Connecticut courts may also order a parent to contribute to expenses for a child between the ages of 18 and 23 who is a full-time student at a “post-secondary school” like college or a similar type of educational program. This is done via an “Educational Support Order.” Click here to learn more.
If would like to change child support or anything else in your current orders, you can learn more about how that works here. As always, if you have questions or want to learn more about post judgment motions might work in your specific situation, please contact us here.