Can a Court Order Change Child Support in CT?

By Heather Frances J.D.

When Connecticut courts award child support as part of a divorce, they use the couple’s financial situation at the time of the divorce to determine the amount of support. However, this level of support may not be appropriate when a family’s circumstances change. Connecticut law makes child support modifiable -- up or down -- based on a significant change in circumstances.

Support Calculations

Connecticut courts establish child support amounts based on a formula set by the state’s guidelines. This formula considers the net disposable income of each parent, which is the parent’s gross income less certain payroll and other mandatory deductions, and the number of children being supported. Child support calculations also incorporate the costs of a child’s daycare expenses and medical expenses not covered by health insurance.

Changed Circumstances

Typically, Connecticut courts do not change a child support order unless the family’s financial circumstances have changed significantly. If a parent’s income has changed significantly due to a job loss or promotion, this may be enough to change the child support order. The court may also change an order if childcare costs have increased or decreased significantly. Generally, Connecticut considers it a significant change in circumstances if the change results in at least a 15 percent difference between the existing child support amount and what the new amount would be based on the guidelines.

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Modification Process

Connecticut ex-spouses can request a modification by filing a motion and other forms with the appropriate court, usually the court that issued the most recent support order. The filing parent must serve copies of the paperwork on the other parent to give him a chance to respond. If the other parent does not agree to the modification, the court will hold a hearing to receive information from both sides before issuing a decision. Evidence may include proof of the changed circumstances, such as bank statements, payroll records and proof of conditions that might keep a parent from working.

State Assistance

Connecticut’s Support Enforcement Services enforces and monitors certain child support cases as part of the State of Connecticut Child Support Program. If a case is managed by SES, a parent can ask SES to review the case based on income information. If SES feels a modification is appropriate, SES can prepare the forms on behalf of the requesting parent, serve the court papers on the other parent and advise both parents of the court date.

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