Taking care of the children’s financial needs is one of the biggest challenges after a couple divorces. A custodial parent may face the possibility that their one income will have to provide support instead of the double income from two parents. But Connecticut family law helps assure the child’s well-being by requiring child support.

Calculating support

A parent may receive child support payments if they have custody or the child lives with them, the other parent can be located and a court orders support. Courts rely on legal guidelines to calculate support payments.

First, the court considers parents’ net weekly income. This is the percentage of their total income used to support their children. Next, it reviews how much each parent contributes to the combined net weekly income. More support may be ordered for medical expenses or childcare.

Parents may agree to the amount of child support. However, a judge must approve the settlement and issue an order so that payments are enforceable.

Time period

Child support payments will continue until the child graduates high school or turns 19-years-old, whichever occurs first. Payments must usually continue even if the child’s other parent remarries or lives with someone else, the paying parent does not see their child, or the paying parent is unemployed or incarcerated.

A parent can receive child support for the past, known as retroactive child support, if the other parent was able to afford support for that period. A court may order retroactive support for up to three previous years or to the child’s birthdate if the child is under 3-years-old.

Failure to pay

Failure to pay child support is a serious offense. A parent who falls behind should continue to pay as much as they can and seek a modification. The support enforcement agency may deduct payments from paychecks, tax refund or bank accounts

There are also other ways to collect unpaid support. A recipient parent or support enforcement agency may seek a contempt of court ruling for violating a court order, put a lien on that parent’s property, report the parent to credit bureaus and stop the other parent from getting a passport.

There are other sanctions if a parent was found in contempt of court over a known order and was able to make payments. The court may order the parent to make lump sum payments, search for work or return to court. A driver’s license may be taken away or a court may order incarceration if a parent does not follow the court’s order.

But a recipient parent may not deny visitation or custody if the other parent does not meet their child support obligations. This would violate court orders. Both parents still have the right to seek custody and visitation.

Modifying support

A parent cannot change the amount of support without obtaining a court-issued modification. Amount may be raised or lowered if there was a large change to either parent’s income, the cost of care for the child substantially changed, the child no longer lives with the recipient parent or another major change in circumstances.

Calculating and seeking a support may be complicated and stressful. An attorney can provide options and pursue support in negotiations and court proceedings.