The state uses a version of the “income shares” model that is very similar to what Arkansas now uses. If you are going through a divorce or if there is a strife between you and your partner. Without a doubt, you have questions concerning “who is going to take care of my kids and why?”. Thankfully, state law divides responsibility and obligation, meaning you’re not alone!
Here is what every parent in Connecticut needs to know about child support in 7 minutes or less.
As mentioned above, Connecticut uses an income shares model to calculate parental obligation. The model presumes that the child should receive the same proportion of parental support he or she would receive if the parents lived together.
From this assumption, a formula was created that takes into account the weekly net incomes of both parents, salary, commissions, bonuses, pension income, and all other payments.
Formulated and named after economist Erwin Roth Barth, Connecticut’s child support formula is based on the percentage of household income spent on adult goods. What does this mean?
First, the court uses economic tables to estimate the average monthly cost of raising the child. After that, the court decides what percentage of the calculated cost based on the proportionate share of both parents’ combined income will be spent on support. For example, if you, the non-custodial parent, earn $2000 a month, whereas the custodial parent earns $1000. Your obligation is 66% of your combined incomes. That means your monthly obligation is $666 per month.
Second, the amount calculated for the custodial parent is retained by that parent under the assumption that the money will be spent directly on the child.
What if there is shared custody?
‘Shared custody’ is an allowed deviation available under Connecticut child support guidelines.
Unlike other states, in Connecticut, a deviation occurs if parents agree amongst themselves to lower or decrease the amount dictated by the formula. Furthermore, state laws dictate:
“The presumptive current support order shall equal the presumptive current support amount of the parent with higher net weekly income, payable to the parent with the lower net weekly income”.
That means, the more you earn their higher the percentage.
Other allowed deviations from the formula include:
Any arrangement that,
one, substantially “reduces expenses for the child, for the lower-income earner”.
two, “any agreement that increases significantly expenses for the child, for the parent with the higher net income”.
three, “any arrangement that allows sufficient funds to remain for the parent receiving support to meet the need of the child after deviation”.
Additionally, if the parents have substantially equal income, a deviation may be allowed. So, talk to a family court attorney to find out if you are eligible for deviation.
For either parent, if you feel that child support is too high or too low, or if your income changes significantly, or if the cost of caring for your kids gets too high. It is possible to modify the order on your own.
What you must do is:
Gather these forms:
- Motion for modification.
- Application for a waiver.
- Financial affidavit.
- Affidavit concerning children.
Fill out the forms, hand them to a court clerk, then have the papers “served”. Remember, there will be a hearing where you will have to justify your standpoint, so gather bills, pay stubs, and a detailed summary of all your income.
When calculating child support, the courts consider:
- The length of the marriage.
- Cause for annulment.
- Dissolution of marriage or legal separation.
Additionally, legal paternity gives the child access to:
- Life and health insurance benefits.
- Veteran’s benefit.
- Inheritance rights.
- Social security dependent/survivor rights.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that in the state, you are presumed to be the legal father if you are married to the mother. What if you’re unsure?
In such a scenario, the court may order a paternity test. Remember, right after the baby is born, you are required to sign an acknowledgment form at any department of social security services office. If you do that, whether sure or unsure, your name will appear on the birth certificate making you the legal father.
The point is, if you are unsure, schedule a DNA test early to avoid courtroom drama. Also, the Department of Social Services offers DNA tests for free with or without court orders.
YES, but only up to a certain point, what do I mean?
According to state law, or to be more specific, “Connecticut Child Support and arrearage guideline. If the non-custodial parent has a second family, his/her situation will be figured in the calculation. However, once a child support order is established, the second family is not factored in.
If the non-custodial parent decides to skip town, the SES will use state and federal computer databases to track the delinquent parent.
On the other hand, If the non-custodial parent resides in a different state where CT and DSS may not have jurisdiction. An existing court order will allow you to collect child support via IWO (income withholding order), meaning, his or her wages will be garnished right at the source. Furthermore, CT and DSS (department of social services) can ask for assistance under UIFSA (Uniform Interstate Family Support Act). A law that allows information to be sent to the non-custodial parent’s current state’s central registry. Where the data will be reviewed and forwarded to the appropriate local child support center.
This raises the question.
Honoring your parental obligation is the easiest way to stop enforcement action in Connecticut, on top of that, if you know that you will be unable to make the payments. Either contact DSS or the custodial parent and inform him or her about your situation, why?
Willful failure to pay child support will result in a court order. This court order allows the state or enforcing body (DSS) to:
- Garnish wages or benefits including unemployment and social security. This also applies if you reside out of state.
- Federal and state income tax returns interception.
- The delinquent parent may be fined.
- Your Lottery winnings will be withheld.
- Money or assets held by a third party such as a bank or employer may be garnished.
- If the amount is at least $500, liens will be placed on the property or foreclosure might be forced.
Contact this number if you are in prison or unemployed (1-800-228-KIDS).
If the custodial parent is not receiving any form of payment, the matter will be referred back to court and the judge will hold the delinquent parent in “contempt of court”.
Non-custodial parents should not take Contempt charges lightly, in fact, if you owe more than $5000 in back child support, you will face federal charges. And it doesn’t stop there!
If the back-support amount is more than $1000, your information may be handed to credit bureaus making it difficult to secure a loan or mortgage. Worse still, you may have to pay a fine and do time behind bars.
Remember, according to Connecticut law. All kids are entitled to support by both parents. Thus, neither of you can waive his or her right on behalf of the child.
Furthermore, there is no statute of limitations for the enforcement of child support arrears in Connecticut.
Can you negotiate back child support arrears?
Connecticut child support laws don’t allow retro-modification; thus, this can only be done if your ex agrees to it, but remember any agreement made out of court is not enforceable!
Additionally, if you disobey a child support order and you were able to pay. The court may order you to make lumpsum payments, you may lose your driver’s/ professional license, or you may be summoned back to court.
The good news is if your income is low, the court may appoint a public defender on your behalf.
It is at the judge’s discretion to decide or increase/decrease support maintenance, meaning, your best course of action is to talk with a lawyer and figure out if you are eligible for either.
Will my stimulus payment offset if I owe child support?
If you owe more than $150, federal law requires that stimulus payments be intercepted up to the total amount you owe.
Connecticut child support guidelines say that payments stop when the child reaches 18, however, if the child is still in high school. The payments might continue until he or she is 19. Additionally, if the teen is mentally or physically disabled, payments may continue into adulthood.
Connecticut child support laws require teenagers to reach the following requirements to get emancipated. First, you must be 16 or 17 to be eligible, if you fit that base requirement, you can get emancipated by:
- Getting married.
- Join the US armed forces.
- Be financially independent.
- Demonstrate to the court that emancipation is in your best interest.
Remember, this is a big decision that will cut off your parent’s financial obligation to you, so think long and hard before you take the route. Our advice, talk to a family lawyer near you!
Overall, Connecticut child support laws are there to protect the kids, so, don’t think of it as giving money to your ex, think of it as supporting your kids into adulthood. Additionally, if you feel the amount is unjustified, talk with a family court lawyer to find out if you are eligible for modification.
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