Child support can be a contentious issue in a divorce. Some parents do not want to pay at all. Others want to but cannot afford to do so after dealing with all the other expenses of a divorce.
Some parents refuse to do anything without a court order. This can be a frustrating situation. Child custody and child support issues are difficult enough to navigate when everyone is doing their part. So when a parent outright refuses to contribute, it can create a lot of stress and frustration for the custodial parent.
Child support can be a difficult topic to navigate. That is why it is important to have a knowledgeable lawyer on your side. Here are five common questions (and answers) about child support that can help you after a divorce.
- How Do I Get Child Support?
Not every parent is entitled to child support. There must be a court order in place in order for you to receive child support from the other parent. A court order establishes the monetary support order for the children as well as other orders for health insurance and child care. To get a court order, you can hire an attorney to pursue your case in court, represent yourself in court, or apply for free child support services offered by the State.
- How is Child Support Calculated in Connecticut?
The guidelines for child support in Connecticut are fairly complicated. Judges will refer to the Connecticut Child Support and Arrearage Guidelines. These guidelines are based on the combined net income of both parents. In this case, income includes wages, commissions, self-employment income, bonuses, rent, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, and pension or retirement benefits. You would then deduct expenses such as any tax payments, medical or dental insurance premiums for you and your legal dependents, and any alimony or child support you pay for other dependents.
To get the basic amount of child support you will be paying, you will have to add both parents’ net weekly incomes together and match the total amount with the number of children in the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations. Again, finding out how much you will owe (or be paid by the noncustodial spouse) can be complicated. Contact a lawyer for help.
- Can Child Support Be Waived if Both Parents Agree?
Child support cannot be waived, even if both parents agree. That is because this is not in the best interest of the child. Children can be expensive for one parent to raise on their own, even under the best of circumstances. Therefore, under state law, both parents must be financially responsible for their children. Connecticut will require child support payments until a child reaches the age of 19, graduates high school, or becomes emancipated, whichever comes first.
- How Do I Enforce a Child Support Order?
If you are having trouble collecting child support money from the other parent, the IV-D program (Four-D) may be able to help. IV-D refers to the government-administered Child Support Enforcement Programs. If you receive IV-D services, the Support Enforcement Services Unit will enforce your child support order in three ways:
- Income withholding. This is typically the first step when the parent refuses to pay. Child support orders may be collected through a court order to deduct money from the non-custodial parent’s income.
- Contempt. If the court cannot garnish the parent’s wages, and there is proof that the parent is willfully disobeying the court order, then they can be found in contempt of court. This is a crime that comes with punishment. The parent may be ordered to pay a lump sum of money or sent to jail until a certain sum of money is paid.
- License suspension. License suspension is also a possible punishment. The court can order the suspension of the parent’s driver’s license, or professional or occupational license.
If the IV-D program is not assisting you, you can also hire an attorney to represent you and file the appropriate court papers. You can also file the court papers yourself.
- How Do I Modify a Child Support Order?
Connecticut law allows courts to modify existing child support orders if one of two circumstances apply:
- Either parent has experienced a “substantial change” in circumstances since the child support order was first issued.
- The support order “substantially deviates” from the child support guidelines.
A substantial change in circumstances refers to a 15% deviation in either direction from the child support guidelines. What this means is that either parent must have experienced a significant decline in income, such as by a pay cut or job loss, requiring the need to make lower child support payments. Conversely, if one parent gets a new, higher-paying job or receives a significant raise, the other parent may believe that more of that increased income should go toward child support. These are cases in which a modification may be granted.
Child support orders can only be modified by a judge or a family support magistrate. There are three ways to get your child support case to court: ask Support Enforcement Services to assist, hire an attorney, or do it yourself. The best option is to hire a lawyer who understands the process. In any case, you must attend the court hearing, or the judge will not change the order.
Contact Us Today
Whether child support is an issue raised during a divorce or between unmarried parents, it is essential that these matters be settled in order for the children to be properly supported. Parents need to know what financial obligations they have to their children.
The knowledgeable attorneys at The Prince Law Group will give you the advice you need to make informed decisions about matters that will affect your children’s lives long after your divorce is final. We can answer your questions about child support and other family law issues. Call (203) 653-8483 or fill out the online form to schedule a free consultatio