After a divorce, parents should provide sufficient financial support to ensure they’re properly caring for their children and meeting their needs. A West Hartford child support lawyer can help you and your co-parent reach a reasonable understanding regarding how to provide for your children. At Freed Marcroft, our family attorneys are committed to helping you prepare for your children’s future.
Determining Minimum Payments According To the Law
Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-215b establishes child support guidelines to help parents calculate the child support they might owe or receive. A parent’s gender has no impact on child support. Under Connecticut’s approach to child support, a child should receive the same share of parental income they would have received if the parents were residing together under one roof. Accordingly, in joint custody cases, the parent who earns more may still provide child support to the parent who earns less. While the guidelines set a minimum amount for child support, the divorcing parties could decide that a higher amount is appropriate, depending on their circumstances.
The child support guidelines consider the parents’ combined weekly income and determine the percentage they would spend on the children if they lived together. This calculation includes spending for food, clothing, housing, medical care, educational expenses, and activities. A West Hartford lawyer can help determine parents’ basic child support obligations.
Child Support as Outlined in Parental Agreements
Parents can resolve all issues, including child support, without a divorce court’s intervention, although any agreements must ultimately have court approval. For example, parents can work with a mediator and through their Freed Marcroft attorneys to develop a plan for child support.
The divorce court must review all child support agreements to ensure they are in the children’s best interests. It typically won’t approve any agreement that calls for less than the minimum amount of child support unless a parent can prove the amount would be a financial hardship or other circumstances justify paying less support. (For example, if the children split time roughly equally between the parent’s homes, the child support payments might be less than if the children spend most of their time with one parent.) If you’re seeking a lower support payment, a lawyer can analyze your situation and determine the likelihood of that goal.
Larger Support Payments
Sometimes, child support payments are greater than the guidelines recommend. The divorce court is mainly concerned with the children maintaining their standard of living once their parents divorce. The court might mandate a higher support payment, including if it allows the children to remain in the same school, receive high-quality services for their special needs, or participate in the same extracurricular activities. At Freed Marcroft, we can help you make your case for greater payments by your co-parent.
Common Issues When Determining Child Support
Freed Marcroft’s West Hartford attorneys work with parents to navigate many child support issues:
Distinguishing Child Support From Visitation
Child support is a legal obligation and has nothing to do with how often a parent sees their children. A parent must pay child support when a divorce court orders it, even if the divorce agreement limits or forbids them from spending time with their children. On the other hand, the custodial parent cannot withhold access to the children, even if the noncustodial parent has not met their child support obligations. Your child has a right to a meaningful relationship with both parents, and it is a violation of the divorce court to hinder that relationship unless there are concerns about abuse.
Intentionally Earning Less
Some parents leave a job, take a lower-paying job, or remain unemployed or underemployed to lower their child support payments. Parents who do this risk sanctions from the divorce court. If the judge determines a parent is trying to avoid paying support, they could determine the income that the parent could be earning and use that as a baseline of child support. A lawyer has the resources to determine if a parent is intentionally trying to shirk their responsibilities.
Some parents want to leave a high-paying job for one that’s more meaningful or less stressful. If you’re in that position, consider whether you could continue your current child support payment even if you earn less. If not, you could approach your co-parent about adjusting the current payment. If your co-parent agrees to accept less, you must show the divorce court that the reduced child support is in your children’s best interests. A West Hartford child support attorney can emphasize the benefits to help convince the judge that less child support is appropriate.
Work With a West Hartford Attorney To Resolve Child Support Issues
Couples who want the best for their children can still disagree about the appropriate level of support. A West Hartford child support lawyer can help you focus on what matters most—your children. Schedule a consultation with Freed Marcroft today.