Child support is a basic obligation that runs from parent to child. The parent who has residential custody of the child is entitled to child support from the noncustodial parent. In Connecticut, the obligation to pay child support continues until the child reaches the age of 18 years, unless the child is still in high school. If the child is a full time student in high school, is not married, and resides with a parent when he or she reaches 18, then the child support obligation continues until the child completes the twelfth grade or attains the age of nineteen, whichever first occurs.
In the context of an action for dissolution (divorce, annulment or legal separation), the court in determining the amount of child support to be ordered is required to consider the age, health, station, occupation, educational status and expectation, amount and sources of income, vocational skill, employability, estate and needs of the child; and the court will also consider the age, health, station, occupation, earning capacity, amount and sources of income, estate, vocational skills and employability of each of the parents. C.G.S.A. § 46b-56(c) & § 46b-84(c). Child support obligations outside of an action for dissolution, require that any order be reasonable in light of the payor’s ability to pay. C.G.S.A. § 46b-215.
In any proceeding for the establishment or modification of a child support obligation, the Child Support Guidelines must also be considered, in addition to, but not instead of, the statutory criteria identified above. At the time of a hearing concerning child support, the rules (P.B. § 25-30) require the parties to submit a completed Child Support Guidelines Worksheet.
Under the Guidelines, the calculation of child support is based on the parents’ net income. Net income is defined as “gross income” minus “allowable deductions.” “Gross income” means the average weekly earned and unearned income from all sources. Gross income inclusions [Conn. Regs. § 46b-215a-1(11)(A)] are: (i) salary; (ii) hourly wages for regular, overtime and additional employment not to exceed 45 total paid hours per week; (iii) commissions, bonuses and tips; (iv) profit sharing, deferred compensation and severance pay; (v) tribal stipends and incentives; (vi) employment perquisites and in-kind compensation (any basic maintenance or special need such as food, shelter or transportation provided on a recurrent basis in lieu of or in addition to salary or wages); (vii) military personnel fringe benefit payments; (viii) benefits received in place of earned income including, but not limited to, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, strike pay and disability insurance benefits; (ix) veterans’ benefits; (x) social security benefits (excluding Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for a parent or a child), including dependency benefits on the earnings record of an insured parent that are paid on behalf of a child whose support is being determined; (xi) net proceeds from contractual agreements; (xii) pension and retirement income; (xiii) rental income after deduction of reasonable and necessary expenses; (xiv) estate or trust income; (xv) royalties; (xvi) interest, dividends and annuities; (xvii) self-employment earnings, after deduction of all reasonable and necessary business expenses; (xviii) alimony being paid by an individual who is not a party to the support determination; (xix) adoption subsidy benefits received by the custodial parent for the child whose support is being determined; (xx) lottery and gambling winnings, prizes and regularly recurring gifts (except as provided in subparagraph (B)(v) of this subdivision); and (xxi) education grants (including fellowships or subsidies, to the extent taxable as income under the Internal Revenue Code).
The gross income exclusions [Conn. Regs. § 46b-215a-1(1)(B)] are: (i) support received on behalf of a child who is living in the home of the parent whose income is being determined; (ii) SSI payments, including those received on behalf of a child who is living in the home of the parent whose income is being determined; (iii) federal, state and local public assistance grants;
(iv) earned income tax credit; and (v) the income and regularly recurring contributions or gifts of a spouse or domestic partner.
“Allowable deductions” means average weekly amounts subtracted from gross income to arrive at net income, and are limited to the following: (A) federal, state and local income taxes, based upon all allowable exemptions, deductions and credits; (B) social security taxes or, in lieu thereof, mandatory retirement plan deductions for an amount not to exceed the maximum amount permissible under social security; (C) medicare tax; (D) medical, hospital, dental or health insurance premium payments, including Husky Plan contributions, for the parent and his or her legal dependents, provided the parent provides the name of the insurer and the policy number; (E) court-ordered life insurance for the benefit of the child whose support is being determined; (F) court-ordered disability insurance; (G) mandatory union dues or fees, including initiation, to the extent deducted by the employer; (H) the cost of mandatory uniforms and tools, to the extent deducted by the employer; (I) court-ordered alimony and child support awards for individuals not involved in the support determination, provided a deduction for such awards shall be allowed only to the extent of payment on any non-arrearage amounts; and (J) an imputed support obligation for a qualified child, as determined in accordance with section 46b-215a-2b(e) of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies.
The Guidelines do not replace the court’s discretion in applying the above-listed criteria in for child support. In addition, the Guidelines do not apply where the combined net income of both parents is more than $4000 per week. If the combined net income exceeds $4000 per week, then the child support award must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Where the combined income from both parents is less than $4000 per week, the amounts arrived at by application of the Child Support Guidelines are presumed to be the correct amounts to be ordered by the court. In a particular case, however, the court may determine that the Guideline amount would be inadequate or inappropriate. In such a case, the Court, after determining the Guideline amount, may deviate from that amount but the deviation must be based on the criteria for deviation specified in the Regulations. In general, the grounds for deviation from the Guidelines are (1) Other financial resources available to a parent; (2) Extraordinary expenses for care and maintenance of the child; (3) Extraordinary parental expenses; (4) Needs of a parent’s other dependents; (5) Coordination of total family support; and (6) Special circumstances.