Parents have the duty to support their children financially, both before and after divorce, so Connecticut law aims to provide adequate financial resources for a child through court-ordered child support payments. The percentage of a noncustodial parent’s income that goes toward child support depends on the total income of both parents, how much of that total must go for child support and the percentage of that total income that the noncustodial parent earns.
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Income Shares Model
Connecticut uses the Income Shares Model of child support calculation, which considers the incomes of both parents. It is based on the idea that the child should receive the same percentage of parental income that he would have received if his parents had not divorced. One spouse is usually the custodial parent and receives payment from the noncustodial parent. However, Connecticut’s guidelines adjust for split custody arrangements, shared physical custody arrangements and parental obligations for children outside the marriage, and courts have discretion to go outside the guidelines to change the child support amount when appropriate.
Basic Support Level
The guidelines combine the net income of both parents to produce a total amount of net weekly income that Connecticut considers available for child support purposes. The court then uses a chart to determine the level of support a child should receive given that level of parental income. Then the court determines what share of that basic level of support each parent should pay by comparing the income of each parent as a percentage of the total income of both parents. For example, if one parent earns $1,000 per week and the other earns $500, the parent earning $1,000 would pay an approximate 67 percent share of the basic support obligation.
Next, the court applies the percentage share assigned to each parent to the basic support obligation amount to determine the child support payment owed by the noncustodial parent. For example, if the parents’ combined weekly income is $2500, Connecticut’s chart says two children should receive $566 each week from both parents. If the noncustodial parent earns 75 percent of the $2500, he is responsible for paying $425 of the $566. The custodial parent "pays" her share by directly providing for the child's needs. Connecticut’s chart only considers combined weekly net incomes up to $2500. In households with incomes greater than that, the court has discretion to address the excess money as it sees fit.
The court can adjust the general support amount produced by the Connecticut guidelines to incorporate each parent’s contributions to health insurance, unreimbursed medical costs and child care costs. The court abides by further instructions in the Connecticut guidelines to construct a new ratio of funds available in each household to determine what share of these extra expenses each parent should pay.