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The basics of Connecticut child support law

When someone becomes a parent, his or her life changes in many ways. But one unwavering fact is established: the duty of that mother or father to support his or her child financially until the son or daughter reaches adulthood. In Connecticut, the law emphatically makes this moral duty a legally enforceable one.

"Child support" is the regular payment of money from one parent to the other to help pay for the child's basic needs. Child support is legally established by an order of the Connecticut state court, usually in conjunction with a divorce, separation, annulment, paternity or similar legal matter concerning minor children.

Connecticut child support law is extremely precise and complex.

Connecticut child support guidelines

Connecticut has child support guidelines that apply a formula to the number of kids and the parents' weekly net income to come up with a dollar amount of child support. The law presumes that the amount of child support calculated by the guidelines is appropriate.

The basics of Connecticut child support law

For a judge to deviate from the guideline's presumed amount, Connecticut regulation allows consideration of factors in six categories:

  • Other resources of a parent, including earning capacity, and recurring, substantial contributions or gifts from a spouse or domestic partner in certain circumstances
  • Extraordinary, ongoing expenses of the child related to education, medical costs that cannot be reimbursed or the child's "special needs"
  • Extraordinary, ongoing parent expenses related to visitation, certain employment expenses or certain medical or disability expenses
  • Particular expenses related to the needs of other dependents
  • Overall family support that takes into account the couple's property division, future tax consequences and alimony
  • Special circumstances as defined by law

If the judge finds that deviation from the guideline in a given case is in the child's best interest, he or she must explicitly set out in the court order the specific facts and reasons for that departure. Alternatively, if the parents negotiate an agreement that includes a decision on child support in an amount that differs from the guidelines, it still must be approved by a judge, and the agreement should set out the reasons and supporting facts for the departure.

Other important factors in child support decisions

Connecticut law also specifies certain factors to be considered by the judge that help determine the child's needs and the parents' ability to provide for the child. For example, the court should look at the child's age, health, educational expectations, income, needs and more; and each parents' age, health, job, "earning capacity," income, employability and more.

Connecticut law is particularly serious on the issue of a parent's earning capacity. In other words, if he or she is not working, but a judge believes he or she could get a job, to enforce a child support order, the court may order that the parent obtain employment.

Get solid legal advice

This is only a brief introduction to Connecticut child support law, which is very complicated, in some ways more complex than that of many other states. To understand how the law is likely to apply to his or her unique situation, anyone in the Constitution State facing child support issues should consult with an experienced Connecticut family lawyer for advice and representation.