The basics of Connecticut child support

In a perfect world, you and your child's other parent will have an amicable relationship following a split. You two would never quarrel about child-rearing decisions, and your child would never lack for financial resources. Each one of your child's needs would be met with cordial, responsible and respectful co-parenting.

Let's face it, though; we don't live in a perfect world. In the real world, parents often squabble about making decisions that are in their child's best interests, even more so when emotions get in the way. Co-parents, even those who can maintain a civil relationship following a breakup, divorce or the dissolution of a domestic partnership - or even a cordial one - sometimes fundamentally disagree about how best to meet their child's religious, medical or educational needs.

While we are still talking about reality, not the fantasy of what a perfect co-parenting situation would be, it is important to also remember that a key cause of discord between parents is economic stress. This sort of stress and anxiety can come about for many reasons, including:

  • The custodial parent not having the same earning capacity as the non-custodial parent
  • The child having special educational, developmental or physical needs
  • One parent being ill, incapacitated or otherwise unable to work while still taking care of the child
  • The high cost of child care
  • Job loss or layoff that reduces a custodial parent's income

Statutory guidance

Regardless of the cause, Connecticut law provides a way to ensure that the financial needs of children are met: child support. The state's child support laws are located throughout Section 46b of the Connecticut General Statutes. This section not only contains provisions for determining such situations when child support would be appropriate, but also guidelines for the amount of support that should be awarded.

Though it is true that both parties do have a responsibility to support minor children, making a non-custodial parent pay child support is not necessarily appropriate in every case. Courts have discretion to look at the totality of the circumstances in order to make such determinations, examining factors relevant to the child him or herself as well as those concerning the parents. These include, but are not limited to, the following (set forth in Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-84):

  • Age of the child and both parents
  • Health of all parties
  • Educational needs of the child
  • Special developmental, mental or physical needs of the child and both parents
  • Standard of living to which the child is accustomed
  • Wealth/financial situation of the child and both parents
  • Length of time parents were together (if at all)
  • Occupation of both parents
  • Earning capacity of both parents
  • Other factors that may be relevant

From there, the statutes offer guidelines for determining what an appropriate and equitable child support payment would be in a given situation.

Getting started

If you have custody of your child and want to find out more about seeking child support payments from the non-custodial parent - or you are a non-custodial parent interested in fighting against what you feel is an unfair request that you pay support - there is help available. For more information about your legal rights and options on both sides of the child support debate, speak with an experienced Connecticut family law attorney.