Connecticut Child Support Guide
Child Support Eligibility
In Connecticut, you must have a court order to receive child support. A court order for child support establishes the monetary support order for your child(ren) as well as other orders for health insurance and child care. Even if the non-custodial parent is willing to sign a voluntary agreement to pay child support, it must be approved by a court. There are three ways to get a court order for child support:
- Hire an attorney to pursue your case in court.
- Represent yourself in court.
- Apply for child support services (IV-D) offered by the State.
A Connecticut court will consider the following factors when ordering child support:
- Parent’s age
- Parent’s health
- Parent’s ability to maintain or find adequate employment
- Parental skills
- Amount and sources of parental income
- Estate and needs of the child
- Parent’s education and expected education
- Parental occupation
Establishing Child Support Order
If the parents were not married, legal paternity must be established. Establishing paternity is the legal term for determining the father of the child. If the parents were married when the child was born, the husband is the legal father noted on the child’s birth certificate. To create the same legal relationship between unmarried parents and their children, paternity must be established. It’s an important step in ensuring that both parents support their child, and is the first step in collecting child support.
When a father agrees that the child is his, he may sign a Certificate of Parentage (COP), which legally proves who the father of a child is. The first opportunity to sign the COP is at the hospital, right after a baby’s birth. Hospital staff can help you complete it. COPs can also be signed after leaving the hospital at a state or county registrar’s office, or at a local welfare office.
Shared Physical Custody
Parents share physical custody if they each spend substantially more time with a child than the standard visitation schedule described above. There is no absolute number of days required—exactly equal time isn’t necessary, only something approaching equal time. A court will sometimes reduce the non-custodial parent’s payment in a shared custody arrangement, but only if the parenting arrangement actually changes the way the parents divide expenses. In other words, if the parents share time almost equally, but the custodial parent still pays for the majority of child-related expenses, the court won’t order a reduction. The reduction also can’t be so much that the custodial parent won’t have enough money left to meet the child’s basic needs.
“Split custody” means that each parent has primary custody of at least one child. In this type of arrangement, parents must calculate each parent’s support obligation on separate Worksheets. After subtracting the lower obligation from the higher obligation, the parent with the higher obligation pays the difference to the other parent.
Obligations of Child Support
Basic Child Support Obligation
Under Connecticut law a father, no matter what his age or if he’s married, has responsibility for his children. In fact, the DSS Bureau of Child Support Enforcement has ways to find a father and arrange for paternity to be proven so he can start providing for his child.
To get the basic child support figure in Connecticut, both parents’ net weekly incomes is added together, and the total amount is matched with a column containing the applicable number of children in the Connecticut Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations.
Receiving Child Support
In Connecticut, child support is the financial contribution from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent towards the expenses of raising the child. Generally child support expenses include the basic necessities such as food, clothing shelter and medical care. Every child is entitled to be supported by both parents until they reach the age of majority (usually 18) or become emancipated.
In Connecticut, parents who have a mentally-disabled child must provide for the child until the child reaches age twenty-five.
Modification of Child Support Amount
Modification and Termination
Once a court has made an initial child support order, a parent who wants to modify (change) the support order must show a substantial and ongoing change in circumstances. Some examples of changes that might justify modification would be one parent’s getting a much higher paying job or the parents making a permanent change in the number of days per week that each of them spends with a child. Courts will generally presume that a modification is appropriate if the difference between an existing award and the amount determined by a new analysis and application of the current guidelines varies by more than 15%. This isn’t automatic, however, and even a 15% variation won’t justify a change in the support order in every situation.
In Connecticut, child support obligation normally continues until a child who has finished high school turns 18, or until a full-time high school student turns 19; however, a court may also order a parent to contribute to expenses for a child between the ages of 18 and 23 who is attending post-secondary school (either college or a similar type of educational program) full-time.
Child Support Enforcement
The Bureau of Child Support Enforcement (BCSE) of the Connecticut Department of Social Services is responsible for helping parents obtain and enforce child support orders, including locating absent parents and establishing paternity, if necessary.
The Connecticut Child Support Enforcement Program (referred to as the “IV-D” program) (pronounced Four-D) is a cooperative effort between the Judicial and Executive Branches of Connecticut government. In Connecticut, a case is considered IV-D if the family has received public assistance benefits, or if an application for services was filed with either the Department of Social Services or the Support Enforcement Unit. The IV-D program is the Support Enforcement Services Unit of the Court and performs the following activities:
- Locating Non-custodial parents
- Establishing paternity
- Establishing support orders, both financial and medical
- Enforcing support orders
- Reviewing and adjusting support orders to ensure that the orders are appropriate
- Providing payment processing services
The Support Enforcement Services Unit enforces child support orders in court using three tools:
- Income Withholding – all child support orders may be collected through a court order to deduct money from the non-custodial parent’s income (Income includes wages, overtime pay, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, retirement benefits, etc.).
- Contempt – the court finds that the non-custodial parent willfully failed to obey the court order. A person found in contempt may be ordered to pay a lump sum of money. The person also can be sent to jail (incarcerated) until a certain sum of money is paid.
- License Suspension – the court finds the non-custodial parent failed to obey the court order and orders his or her driver’s license, professional, occupational license, or recreational license suspended after 30 days.
Military Service Modification of Child Support
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
If you are called to active duty, you are protected under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), formerly called the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act. The purpose of the SCRA is to allow United States military personnel to devote their full attention to the defense of our nation by temporarily suspending judicial and administrative civil proceedings that may impact their rights. In some instances, your military service activation may make you eligible for a change in your child support order during your time of service. If you feel that you qualify, you may ask the court to modify your order by filing a motion to modify.
SAMPLE CONNECTICUT WEEKLY CHILD SUPPORT ALLOCATION
Combined Net Weekly Income
|1 Child||2 Children||3 Children||4 Children|
|% $||% $||% $||% $|
|500||25.14% 126||35.25% 176||40.76% 204||45.45% 227|
Connecticut Financial Assistance
If you need financial help, either temporarily or in addition to child support, there is help in Connecticut! Connecticut’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides assistance to needy families and pregnant women meeting eligibility criteria in all political subdivisions of the state. Assistance for basic needs is provided to needy families through the Temporary Family Assistance (TFA) component of the Jobs First program. TANF Resource Line: 1-855-6-CONNECT (1-855-626-6632)
Connecticut Child Support Resource Line:
Note: The foregoing information is provided as general child support law guidelines in Connecticut and should not be considered as legal advice specific to your case. After reviewing the above material, you will be presented with the opportunity to submit more details specific to your case directly to
About The Children.
Submitted by Linda O’Marie, Paralegal