Top Frequently Asked Questions About CT Child Support
1. How do I get child support as a mother?
If you are an unmarried mother of a child and are the child’s primary caretaker, you can file for child support at a Connecticut Superior Court with the help of your attorney. Or, you can file on your own at your local Office of Child Support Services, a specific branch of the Connecticut Department of Social Services. You will need to provide legal proof of paternity for the DSS to pursue child support payments from the child’s father.
If you are married and are getting a divorce, child support may be addressed along with the other family legal matters you’re involved in. Or, you can follow the same steps above. However, you will generally not need proof of paternity to obtain child support if you are the primary custodian of the child. Connecticut law assumes the mother’s husband is the biological father of the child.
2. How do I get child support as a father?
Getting child support as a father in Connecticut can be challenging. If you are unmarried, you’ll need to establish paternity, meaning you’ll need to take a lab test to prove that you are the child’s biological father. Then, you’ll need to obtain primary custody of your child, after which the child’s mother can be ordered to pay child support.
If you are married and getting a divorce, you will still need to have primary physical custody of your child before you will be able to file for child support. For example, if the father stays in the marital home and the mother moves out, the children will likely stay in the marital home with the father. In this case, the mother would have visitation and pay child support to the father.
3. How does Connecticut calculate child support?
The state uses a relatively basic mathematical formula to determine how much child support the non-custodial parent will pay. The most significant factors considered are how much money the parents earn combined and the number of children they have.
Below are estimates of what a parent might pay for one, two, or three children assuming the parents’ combined weekly income is $1,000.
- 1 child – $229 (approximately 23%)
- 2 children – $322 (approximately 32%)
- 3 children – $385 (approximately 39%)
Using the above formula, a child support calculator in CT might determine that the support amount for two children whose parents make a combined $850 per week is $272 weekly or $1,088 per month.
4. Can child support be waived if both parents agree?
Under state law, both parents must be financially responsible for their minor child. Even if both parents agree, child support cannot be waived. Regardless of the wishes of either parent, Connecticut will calculate and order child support payments until a child reaches the age of 19, graduates high school, or becomes emancipated, whichever occurs first.
5. What is the “income shares model” in Connecticut?
The “Income Shares Model” in Connecticut is used to help determine how much child support is paid. A court estimates how much money two parents would spend on their child if the family still lived in the same residence. Then, the total support obligation is divided between both parents depending on their salaries and how much time each of them spends with the child.
6. What if my child support doesn’t get paid?
If your child’s other parent was ordered to pay child support and they do not, they may be subject to enforcement actions. This means that the Office of Child Support Services will become involved and penalties for nonpayment may be imposed. For example, common enforcement actions are wage garnishment and license suspension. Rarely, a nonpaying parent will be held in contempt of court and may face penalties for criminal charges.
6a. What is the IV-D Program in Connecticut?
Every state in the U.S. is obligated to offer child support services under Title IV-D of the Federal Social Security Act. This is referred to as the IV-D (pronounced 4D) Program, which is administered by the Office of Child Support Services. Under this program, various agencies have the authority to find noncustodial parents, prove biological paternity, and determine and enforce child support payments.
The purpose of this program is to provide much-needed financial support for custodial parents of minor children and to allow children the opportunity to develop a relationship with their noncustodial parents. The IV-D program also helps to reduce the number of families dependent on government benefits by redistributing the financial responsibility of caring for a child back to their parents.
7. Can I change a child support order after the fact?
In the event that a child’s needs change or a parent has a significant change in their income, child support may need to be modified. It’s unlikely that a child’s financial needs will stay exactly the same throughout the entire time they receive support, therefore one or more modifications are likely to take place. This is especially true if the child is very young at the time of their parents’ separation or divorce.
In order to successfully obtain a child support modification in CT, you must be able to show evidence of a change in circumstances. For example, if your child has become ill and requires ongoing medical care, you can provide copies of medical records and payments made. Commonly, the noncustodial parent will have a change in income and may need to request that child support payments be recalculated based on their current income. In order to do this, the paying parent will need to provide proof of a reduction in their weekly pay.
8. What is retroactive child support and how do I know if I’m eligible?
Retroactive child support, also known as back child support, may be issued if a noncustodial parent owed support during a particular time period and had the money to pay it. There is no statute of limitations on child support in the state of Connecticut, meaning that a parent can file for child support at any time.
Back child support may be ordered even after the child graduates high school, becomes emancipated, or reaches the age of 19. Retroactive child support may be ordered for as many as three years prior to the time of filing, or back to the child’s date of birth if the child is under three years of age. You may be eligible to receive retroactive child support for up to the three previous years as a custodial parent if the court determines that your child’s other parent owed and could afford child support payments for that period of time.
9. When does CT child support end?
CT child support ends when the child either:
- Turns 19
- Graduates high school
- Becomes emancipated
This is what is known as the “age of majority.” Until this time, both parents are financially responsible for their minor child. A court may order retroactive child support after they reach the age of majority if the noncustodial parent owes back support.
9a. What is an educational support order?
A court may decide to order one or both parents to make financial contributions towards their child’s college expenses when their child is between the ages of 18 and 23. This is separate from child support and is called an educational support order.
A child support and educational support order may overlap between the child’s 18th and 19th birthday, after which the child will only receive educational support. Educational support will not be ordered before a child turns 18 or starts college, whichever comes first. An educational support order covers costs related to tuition, room and board, meals, and other college expenses.
10. Can a parent deny visitation if there’s unpaid child support?
Visitation cannot be denied or delayed due to unpaid child support. Both parents must abide by the terms of their child custody order regardless of whether child support is paid or unpaid. This is true even if one parent owes a significant amount of back child support; visitation with a child can never be used as a child support enforcement tool.
Get Help from Veteran CT Child Support Attorney Heidi E. Opinsky Today
Calculating CT child support and dealing with support-related family legal matters can be challenging. You need comprehensive legal advocacy when going toe to toe with your child’s other parent to obtain child support or to demonstrate your inability to pay to a court of law. Heidi E. Opinsky is a veteran child support lawyer in Connecticut and can help you navigate difficult legal issues surrounding the financial support of your child.
Contact Attorney Opinsky today for an initial consultation to discuss the details of your case and to learn more about your legal options by dialing 203-653-3542.