Westport Child Support Lawyer

Child support is potentially a major issue in any divorce, both for the parent who expects to pay child support and for the parent who expects to receive it. The amount of child support you can expect to receive or pay will have a meaningful impact on your finances in the years following your divorce.

As such, it is important to work with an experienced Westport child support lawyer who can provide knowledgeable guidance and tenacious advocacy. Based in Westport, Connecticut, and serving families throughout Fairfield County and Connecticut, Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC ensures that our clients have a comprehensive understanding of the child support laws in Connecticut.  Our lawyers can help you understand how much you can expect to pay or receive.

The purpose of child support is to provide for the children’s day-to-day needs such as shelter, food, and clothing. It does not include payment of extracurricular activities, unreimbursed medical expenses, or summer camps. 

In determining the amount of child support that one parent must pay to the other, the Court applies the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines prescribe a mathematical formula based primarily on the parties’ incomes and the number of children. Your Westport child support lawyer can calculate this amount.  Once applied, the formula results in a weekly amount that one parent must pay to the other.  

The amount of child support may be modified over time as the parties’ circumstances change. For example, an increase or decrease in one party’s income or a change to the custody or parenting time may alter the amount of child support.  Contrary to popular belief, shared physical custody alone, does not relieve a parent of his or her child support obligation. Per the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines, in a shared physical custody situation, “the presumptive current support order shall equal the presumptive current support amount of the parent with the higher net weekly income, payable to the parent with the lower net weekly income.” Thus, presumptively, the child support obligation is identical whether there is a shared physical custody situation or a non-shared physical custody situation.

Child Support in High Net Worth/High Income Divorce Cases

The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines covers the parent’s combined net weekly income between $0 – $4,000. If a family’s combined net weekly income exceeds $4,000, child support is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on many factors, including the income of the parents and the needs of the child.  In those high-income cases, the Court has the direction to Order child support between the presumptive minimum (the amount as if the family’s combined net weekly income was $4,000) and the presumptive maximum (the percentage on the Child Support Guidelines table as if the family’s combined net weekly income was $4,000 multiplied by the actual combined net weekly income).

For example, in a high net income case involving three children, where only the non-custodial parent is employed outside the home:

  • The minimum presumptive support amount is approximately $3,570.67 per month.
  • The maximum presumptive support will be determined by multiplying the employed parent’s net weekly income by 20.61%.

These presumptive amounts may be rebutted based on deviation criteria as discussed below and an experienced Westport child support lawyer will know which deviation criteria to apply.

Deviations to Child Support

In certain situations, it may be necessary to deviate from the presumptive amount of child support per the Child Support Guidelines formula.  The following are examples of permissible deviation criteria:

  1. Other financial resources available to a parent, limited to the following: (a) substantial assets, including both income-producing and non-income-producing property; (b) the parent’s earning capacity; (c) parental support being provided to a minor obligor; (d) the regularly recurring contributions or gifts of a spouse or domestic partner, but only if it is found that the parent has reduced his or her income or has experienced an extraordinary reduction of his or her living expenses as a direct result of such contributions or gifts; and (e) hourly wages for regular, overtime and additional employment over 45 total paid hours per week, but not to exceed 52 total paid hours per week.
  2. Extraordinary expenses for the care and maintenance of the child.  
  3. Extraordinary parental expenses. 
  4. Needs of a parent’s other dependents.
  5. Coordination of total family support.

How to File for Child Support in Connecticut?

In Connecticut, parents must support their child(ren) until the later of graduating from high school or turning eighteen (18).  Child support is asserted as a claim for relief in a Complaint that initiates a divorce and/or child custody action.  

What is Child Support Supposed to be used for?

Child support is intended to contribute to the basic household expenses incident to raising a child, such as food, clothing, and the child’s share of shelter expenses.  Additional expenses, such as medical expenses, childcare expenses, and extracurricular activities, are not included in calculating Child Support in Connecticut.

How is Child Support Calculated?

In Connecticut, a formula is applied to the parents’ combined net weekly income to determine a baseline of minimal support that must be paid.  The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines applies a sliding scale of percentages according to net income level and number of eligible children.

Is Child Support Considered Income?

Child Support is not taxable as income as defined by the Internal Revenue Service.  This means that if you receive Child Support, you do not include it in the amount of taxable income on your tax return, and if you pay Child Support, you do not deduct the payment from your taxable income.

What to Do When a Parent Does Not Pay Child Support?

File a Motion for Contempt which can be done during the pendency of a divorce/custody action or post-judgment.  Be sure to maintain records of payments received because the motion must include the dates of non-payment and the amount of support owed. There are special rules of process that must be followed to enable the court to hear and make orders enforcing Child Support.  Proper notice must be made to a Child Support obligor with proof filed with the court since contempt proceedings are considered quasi-criminal in Connecticut. 

What are the Consequences of Not Paying Child Support?

If you do not pay court-ordered Child Support, you may be subject to contempt proceedings in court, which may result in being found in contempt of court orders and being found liable for the total arrearage due as well as the other party’s legal fees and in extreme circumstances, incarceration

Whether your situation is relatively straightforward or exceedingly complex, our Westport child support lawyers will devise and implement a strategy that will offer the best chance of accomplishing your goals and protecting your rights.