CHILD SUPPORT PART III: DEVIATING FROM THE GUIDELINES

As discussed in Part I and II of this series, child support in Connecticut is determined by the Child Support Guidelines and numerous statutory factors. In the Connecticut court system there is a presumption that the amount of child support as calculated by the guidelines is the correct amount to be ordered by the court. However, in some cases, either an upward or downward deviation from the guidelines may be necessary or appropriate for certain families, including those who live in the towns of Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, New Canaan and Westport.

The presumptive amount of support as determined by the guidelines may be rebutted by a specific finding on the record that such amount would be inequitable or inappropriate. Parties may also enter an agreement that rebuts the presumed amount so long as the agreement cites or more deviation criteria as outlined by the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines. In order to deviate from the presumptive amount of support as determined by the guidelines, the presumptive amount of support must first be stated and specific deviation criteria must be cited. Connecticut case law emphasizes that all child support awards, including those resulting from agreements of the parties, must be made in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines.

The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines provide a set number of criteria than can be used to determine a deviation from the presumptive amount of support. The Guidelines provide six different criteria as outlined below. Many of the listed criteria take into consideration the entire family unit, including the needs of the family and additional assets and resources that are available to the family.

The presumptive amount of support may be deviated from for:

(1) Other substantial resources available to a parent including substantial assets, the parent’s earning capacity and parental support being provided to a minor obligor, regularly recurring contributions or gifts and hourly wages for regular, overtime and additional employment in excess of 45 total paid hours per week. For example, if one parent receives significant support from his or her parents, either in the way of assets or recurring gifts, the court can then take this into consideration.

(2) Extraordinary expenses for the care or maintenance of a child. Extraordinary expenses must be essential for the proper care of a child and are limited to educational expenses, unreimbursed medical expenses and expenses for special needs.

(3) Extraordinary parental expenses. Expenses are limited to significant visitation expenses, job-related unreimbursed employment expenses and un-reimbursable medical and disability-related expenses. These expenses must also be necessary for the parent to maintain a satisfactory parental relationship with the child.

(4) The needs of a parent’s other dependents. If a parent has other dependents who are not taken into consideration by the Child Support Guidelines, this criterion allows the court to contemplate the needs of those additional dependents.

(5) A coordination of total family support. This criterion takes into consideration a determination of total family support as well as a family’s property settlement and tax implications. For example if one parent receives a larger portion of marital assets during a divorce or legal separation, this may impact a parent’s need for child support.

(6) Special circumstances. This category can be seen as a catch all since the language looks to cover circumstances that are not otherwise covered and that would warrant a deviation for reasons of equity. The Guidelines provide a sample of special circumstances that include shared physical custody, an extraordinary disparity in parental income, instances where a total child support award exceeds 55% of an obligor’s net income; the best interests of the child and other equitable factors.

The attorneys at Broder & Orland, LLC are experienced with the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines and the deviation criteria cited within. No two cases are the same and Broder & Orland, LLC can help tailor to the needs of your family using all applicable Connecticut laws.

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