Can You Pay Child Support in a Lump Sum?

  •   |   Meghan Freed

Child support is an important and complicated issue in Connecticut divorce or custody action. One question that you may have is “Can I pay child support in a lump sum?” In other words, can you pre-pay or buyout child support?

Read on to learn more.

How Does Connecticut Calculate Child Support?

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) a series of factors. But that’s not the end of the story. Importantly, courts can “deviate” from default child support calculation based on the “deviation criteria.”

What’s CT Typical Child Support Payment Timing?

Under the CT Child Support Guidelines, we calculate child support on a weekly basis. Accordingly, many people pay child support each week. That said, some parents agree to pay child support either bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly. For example, if a parent’s employer pays bi-weekly, that family might coordinate child support to line-up with the employer’s paycheck schedule.

Why Would a Parent Want Lump Sum or Pre Paid Child Support?

Sometimes the parent paying child support wishes to do so in a lump sum payment all at once rather than via periodic payments. For example, for cashflow reasons, the payor parent might want to make one large child support payment or “buyout” child support. In other cases, the parent receiving child support requests the court order the payor parent to pre-pay child support. For example, Harvey Weinstein’s ex-wife was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to pay child support after resolving all the pending lawsuits against him. As a result, she sought a lump sum child support payment.

Are Lump Sum Child Support Payments Allowed in Connecticut?

Connecticut courts use lump-sum payments more frequently for alimony than they do for child support purposes. In fact, whether lump sum child support payments are allowed at all is an open question. That said, it is theoretically possible. Back in 1935, a Connecticut court granted the mother’s request that the father pre-pay child support. In that case, the mother was concerned that the father would move out of the United States and would not make regular child support payments.

That said, 1935 was before the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines, which says that child support orders “shall include a specific dollar amount of support as a primary element, to be payable on a recurring basis.” (Emphasis added.)

However, Connecticut courts do strive to protect child support for children. To that end, if the court is concerned that chance a parent may disappear, squander assets, or become unreachable for purposes of collecting child support, the court might theoretically consider ordering a lump sum child support.

Modifying Lump Sum Child Support

A number of Connecticut judges have ruled that parents cannot agree that child support cannot be modified. In other words, the court retains the ability to modify child support at a later date even if the parents originally agreed that child support would be non-modifiable.

This seems to suggest that even if Connecticut allows one large child support payment — for example to protect the child by collecting as much child support in advance as possible — a lump sum order might not end the parent’s child support obligation.

Next Steps

For more information about Connecticut divorce and family law, check out our Divorce Information and Facts. If you have questions or want to learn more about how our team of divorce attorneys can help you with your divorce or Post Judgment issue, please contact us here.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC