The purpose of a child support order is to provide for the care and well-being of minor children. Pursuant to Connecticut statute, the parents of a minor child, whether married or unmarried, are required to support their child according to their respective abilities. The determination of a parent’s child support obligation must account for all of the income that would have been available to support the children had the family remained together. The support obligation of the noncustodial parent includes current support payments, health care coverage, child care contribution, and periodic payment on arrearages. The amount of child support required, pursuant to Connecticut’s child support guidelines, is based on the net incomes of both parents. In calculating how much child support should be paid, the court considers:
- Net income, including bonuses and overtime, of both parents
- Number of children in the family
- Cost of work-related childcare
- Cost of health insurance for the child
- Any pre-existing child support or alimony obligation of either parent
Connecticut’s Child Support Guidelines are used to determine each parent’s share of the basic child support obligation. The guidelines provide that the support amounts calculated thereunder are the correct amounts to be ordered by the court unless rebutted by a specific finding on the record that the presumptive support amount would be inequitable or inappropriate. In general, the grounds for deviation from the Guidelines are:
- Other financial resources available to a parent;
- Extraordinary expenses for care and maintenance of the child;
- Extraordinary parental expenses;
- Needs of a parent’s other dependents;
- Coordination of total family support; and
- Special circumstances.
Special circumstances are limited to the following:
- Shared physical custody only when there is a substantial reduction of the custodial parent’s, or substantial increase of the non-custodial parent’s expenses for the child and sufficient funds remain for the parent receiving support to meet the basic needs of the child after deviation.
- Extraordinary disparity in parental income;
- Best interests of the child;
- Other equitable factors.
Additionally, the court may consider earning capacity which is defined as an amount which a person can realistically be expected to earn considering such things as his/her vocational skills, employability, age and health providing some protection against parents who may willfully reduce their income in an attempt to avoid or reduce their child support obligation.
The primary purposes of the child support and arrearage guidelines are:
- To provide uniform procedures for establishing an adequate level of support for children, and for repayment of child support arrearages, subject to the ability of parents to pay.
- To make awards more equitable by ensuring the consistent treatment of persons in similar circumstances.
- To improve the efficiency of the court process by promoting settlements and by giving courts and the parties guidance in setting the levels of awards.
- To conform to applicable federal and state statutory and regulatory mandates.
When the parents’ combined net weekly income exceeds $4,000, child support awards are determined by the court on a case-by-case basis, consistent with statutory criteria.
Generally speaking, child support payments terminate when a child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school but no later than the age of 19. The court may order parents to pay the costs in connection with a child’s post-secondary education, including college, in amounts not to exceed the cost of in-state tuition at the University of Connecticut. Additionally, the court may make appropriate orders of support for any child with special needs until that child reaches the age of 21.
PARRINO|SHATTUCK, PC offers sophisticated legal counsel in all divorce-related matters. We assist our clients in navigating the legal path to dissolving their marriage by formulating case-specific objectives and strategies designed to protect their financial interests and serve the best interests of minor children.
PARRINO|SHATTUCK, PC is located on the Saugatuck River in Westport, Connecticut. We represent clients in family matters throughout Connecticut, including but not limited to Fairfield, Middlesex, New London and Litchfield Counties. Our clients reside in Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Ridgefield, Westport, Weston, Wilton, Fairfield, Easton, West Hartford, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Essex. We also frequently appear before the Regional Family Trial Court located in Middletown, Connecticut, as well as the Judicial Districts of Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Danbury, Milford, Norwich, and Hartford.