Divorce destabilizes a family’s finances. From maintaining one household, it becomes two separate households. However, both parties still share the parental responsibility of providing for their minor child’s growing needs.
In Connecticut, a specific set of child support guidelines determines the amount each parent must pay. If both parents earn, the court will compute their combined net weekly income. Unless they have equal income, the court will assign a percentage that will satisfy their basic child support obligation.
While this is true for certain couples, family situations vary. In some cases, only one parent is self-sufficient or a child may have unique requirements. Thus, the court may order amount deviations determined by the guidelines depending on relevant factors.
Identifying deviation criteria
A judge may find adequate evidence showing that a departure from the guidelines is a mutually beneficial approach for both parents and is in the child’s best interests.
The following factors can trigger potential upward or downward deviations:
- Additional streams of income outside a parent’s net salary that can still fund the child’s needs
- The child’s extraordinary educational, medical and other exceptional expenses
- A parent’s extraordinary visitation, employment and other unreimbursed expenses
- A parent’s other dependents’ expenses
- Other significant considerations, such as property division, spousal maintenance and tax implications
- Other special circumstances, such as when parents share custody, one parent substantially earns more than the other or the child support award is worth more than 55% of the paying parent’s net income
When either party requests for a deviation, the judge examines how these factors promote the child’s well-being and ensures that both parents maintain their marital standard of living. Further, this financial duty lasts until the child turns 19 or enters high school, whichever occurs first.
Embracing ever-changing dynamics
Child support calculations tend to be highly technical. Since it is often a formulaic process, it will be wise for parents to consult their legal representative, who can walk them through each step. Their counsel can also work on accurate and fair outcomes that protect their parental rights and the child’s future.