During a divorce involving children or a paternity case, child support is one of the most important issues that must be settled. Connecticut recognizes the obligation of both parents to contribute to the financial well-being of the child. In most cases, the non-custodial parent ends up paying support to the custodial parent. The amount of support paid is determined by a complex formula. There are also factors and circumstances that allow the courts to deviate from the formula.
Connecticut “Income Shares” Model
Connecticut is one of 40 states that applies the “income shares” model when calculating child support. This model calls for each parent to contribute the same proportion of their income toward the support of their child(ren) as they would if they were living together.
The first step in applying the income shares model is to calculate the basic support level. This is done by combining the weekly incomes of each parent to determine how much is available overall. Next, the court plugs the parents’ overall income into a chart to determine how much support the child(ren) should receive. This child support obligation is then divided proportionally between the parents based on their percentage of the income.
Here is an example of what that might look like. If the non-custodial parent earns 75% of the overall income, this parent is responsible for 75% of the child support payment, and the custodial parent is responsible for the other 25%. The non-custodial parent pays his/her share of the support to the custodial parent, and the custodial parent “pays” his/her share by providing directly for the needs of the child(ren).
The Connecticut income shares formula only considers support payments for combined weekly net incomes up to $2,500. If the parents’ combined weekly net income exceeds that amount, the court has discretion on what should be done with the additional income.
Deviations from the Income Shares Calculator
The court can make adjustments to the child support calculation formula for a number of reasons. These may include:
- If either parent pays child support for children from a prior relationship;
- If either parent pays for group health insurance;
- If either parent has unreimbursed medical costs for the child;
- If either parent pays day care/child care costs;
- If the child has special needs and requires additional financial support for that reason;
- If there are any assets or unearned income received on behalf of the child;
- If either parent has a new spouse or partner who contributes to their household income;
- Extraordinary expenses incurred by either parent, such as the cost for the non-custodial parent to travel to see the child;
- Shared physical custody arrangements in which the non-custodial parent has the child for nearly half of the days in a calendar year;
- College expenses incurred when a child reaches the age of majority.
- If the non-custodial parent is incarcerated.
Other factors beyond those mentioned may be considered if they are deemed to be in the best interests of the child. For example, a non-custodial parent may argue that because they are paying for private school tuition for the children as well as all their unreimbursed medical expenses, their child support payment should be lower.
A court may also consider the ability for the non-custodial parent to pay the calculated guideline amount. For example, if the non-custodial parent already has a large number of other expenses that make it unrealistic to pay the amount called for in the guideline, the court might decide to lower it. On the other hand, if the non-custodial parent earns a significant amount of money, the court might decide that he/she can afford to pay more support than the guideline calls for.
Speak with a Knowledgeable Hartford, CT Family Law Attorney
Child support is calculated in Connecticut using a pre-determined formula that is based on the income shares model. However, the court has discretion to deviate from the formula guidelines when it decides that it is necessary to do so. If you are involved in a divorce with children or a paternity case, it is important to have strong legal counsel by your side forcefully arguing for your rights and interests, and the best interests of your child(ren).
At The APEX Law Firm, LLC, we have in-depth experience successfully representing clients for divorce and other family legal matters. Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of this area of the law, and we work closely with our clients, putting our experience to work to provide the skilled and personalized representation they need and deserve.
For a consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (860) 900-0900, visit our Hartford County office in person, or you may send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.