New Canaan Child Support Lawyer
What is Child Support?
Child support is a recurring payment that one parent is obligated to make to the other parent to help pay for a portion of a child's daily living expenses such as food, shelter, and clothing. Notably, child support payments are not intended to cover all expenses incident to raising a child. For example, basic child support payments are not intended to cover any portion of a child's extracurricular activity, camp, unreimbursed medical, or work-related childcare expenses.
How is Child Support Calculated in Connecticut?
In Connecticut, child support is determined in accordance with the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines prescribe a mathematical formula for calculating child support obligations that is based primarily on the respective incomes of the parents' and the number of children that they have. Application of the Guidelines formula results in a weekly child support amount that is presumed to be the correct amount (referred to as the “presumptive” child support amount). However, the “presumptive” child support amount can be rebutted by a specific finding that such an amount would be inequitable or inappropriate in a particular case.
While the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines were designed to simplify and standardize the calculation of child support, in reality the issue of calculating child support is not always straightforward for the following reasons:
- While the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines call for the application of a formula that yields a “presumptively correct” child support amount, they also set forth “deviation criteria,” which are specified facts or circumstances which may justify a child support obligation that differs from the “presumptive” child support amount;
- Determining the correct income figure to utilize for parents is often an issue that is ripe for dispute, particularly in circumstances where one parent receives variable income in the form of bonuses, stock grants or other employment awards, trust distributions, or where a parent has significant control over the amount of his or her income;
- The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines require only that the proscribed mathematical formula for calculating child support be applied to the first $4,000 of the parents' combined net weekly income.
Child Support in High Net Worth/High Income Divorce Cases
Where a family's combined net weekly income exceeds $4,000, Courts have the discretion to fix a child support obligation at any amount between the presumptive minimum (the calculated child support amount if the family's combined net weekly income was $4,000), and what is referred to as the “presumptive maximum.” These presumptive amounts may be rebutted based on deviation criteria as discussed below, and an experienced New Canaan child support lawyer will know which deviation criteria are appropriate to apply.
Deviations From the Child Support Guidelines
In some cases, courts may order a child support amount that is different from the Guideline amount (called a “deviation”). Parents can request that the court deviate from the Guidelines to increase or decrease child support obligations based upon consideration of any of the following deviation criteria:
- Other financial resources available to a parent, limited to the following: (a) substantial assets, including both income-producing and non-income-producing property; (b) the parent's earning capacity; (c) parental support being provided to a minor obligor; (d) the regularly recurring contributions or gifts of a spouse or domestic partner, but only if it is found that the parent has reduced his or her income or has experienced an extraordinary reduction of his or her living expenses as a direct result of such contributions or gifts; and (e) hourly wages for regular, overtime and additional employment over 45 total paid hours per week, but not to exceed 52 total paid hours per week;
- Extraordinary expenses for the care and maintenance of the child;
- Extraordinary parental expenses;
- Needs of a parent's other dependents;
- Coordination of total family support.
Whether your situation is straightforward or complex, it is critical to arrive at a fair and accurate child support calculation so that you can plan your life accordingly. Our New Canaan child support lawyers excel in cases involving complex incomes and routinely fashion comprehensive and creative child support orders within the confines of Connecticut law.
Do I have to pay child support if I share custody of the children?
Shared physical custody alone does not relieve a parent of his or her child support obligation. The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines provide that in a shared physical custody situation, “the presumptive current support order shall equal the presumptive current support amount of the parent with the higher net weekly income, payable to the parent with the lower net weekly income.” Thus, presumptively, the child support obligation is identical regardless of the amount of time a child resides with either parent. However, the presumptive child support amount can be rebutted and deviated from if appropriate. Our New Canaan child support lawyers can help you determine if a deviation is appropriate.
When Does Child Support End in Connecticut?
Child support in Connecticut ends automatically upon the earlier to occur of a child turning 19 or graduating from high school. In certain limited circumstances, child support can be extended until a child attains the age of 21. In order for child support to be extended until age 21, the child that is the subject of the support obligation: (a) must have an intellectual disability or physical disability, (b) must reside with a parent, and (c) is principally dependent upon such parent for maintenance.
Connect with One of Our Experienced New Canaan Child Support Lawyers Today
Our New Canaan child support lawyers have decades of experience with the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines laws and the complicated nuances that can arise in their application. Regardless of whether you are a child support payor or payee, we will ensure that the Child Support Guidelines are applied appropriately in your matter. To schedule an in-person or virtual meeting with one of our New Canaan child support lawyers, please call 203-652-8018 or complete our online contact form.