Overview Spring 2016

CHILD SUPPORT IN CONNECTICUT, SPRING 2016

In Connecticut, child support is a major component of divorce proceedings. Child support is made up of three parts, the actual child support, the unreimbursed expense for medical care and the percentage of daycare contribution owed by each party.

Generally speaking, in Connecticut "if there is an unmarried child ... who has attained the age of eighteen and is a full time high school student, the parties shall maintain the child according to their respective abilities ... until such child completes the twelfth grade or attains the age of 19, whichever occurs first." The court may make appropriate orders of support for a child with an intellectual disability until the child is twenty-one (21). If the original order of child support was rendered in another state, the law of the state that is determined to have issued the initial controlling order governs the duration of the obligation of support. Thus, if the initial controlling order for a disabled child was rendered in Florida, the payer's obligation could last indefinitely according to the law of Florida even though the child may have lived in Connecticut for many years.

Child support is calculated according to the Child Support Guidelines pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46b-215a. Both parents' gross incomes less certain allowable deductions are added together. The final figure is correlated with the Child Support Guideline tables to arrive at a child support figure. That figure is then multiplied by each party's percentage of the total income to arrive at each party's obligation.

In a circumstance where the parties have shared custody, the party making considerably more than the other party pays the guideline figure to the other party. In a shared custody arrangement where both parties earn essentially the same, there may be a deviation from the presumed amount.

There are other reasons for deviation from the presumed amount of child support under Connecticut law. They include a party's earning capacity, total family coordination, parental support being provided to a minor obligor, substantial assets, regular recurring gifts of a spouse or domestic partner but only if it is found that the parent has an extraordinary reduction in his or her living expenses as a result of the contributions or gifts, extraordinary expenses for the care and maintenance of the child, and coordination of total family support. Where a party is unemployed, a court may attribute the minimum wage to that party.

Sometimes it becomes necessary to modify child support if there has been a substantial change in circumstances or a party is able to show that the final order for support substantially deviates from the child support guideline amount. There is a rebuttable presumption that any deviation of les than fifteen percent (15%) is not substantial and any deviation of fifteen percent (15%) or more from the guidelines is substantial. A court may look at the division of real and personal property in the divorce in order to determine whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances.

Child support that exceeds a combined net weekly income of $4,000.00 is an entirely different matter. The courts must exercise their discretion consistent with the guidelines on a case-by-case basis in order to arrive at the proper level of child support. The presumptive support amount ranges from the dollar amount at the $4,000.00 level to the percentage amount at that level applied to the combined net weekly income of the parties.

It is important to note that no order of child support is subject to retroactive modification except that the court may order the modification to commence from the date of service of the pending motion.