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Child Support Deviations

Gold border around a white square that says “Child Support Deviations” in black lettersIt’s common for people in a divorce with children to have a lot of questions about child support.  One of them is: “What are child support deviations?”  In other words, when do Connecticut parents not follow the calculation under the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines?

Read on to learn more.

Connecticut Child Support Guidelines Basics

Connecticut courts presume the amount of child support calculated under the Guidelines to be correct.  However, Connecticut law provides circumstances under which a “deviation” from the calculations is appropriate.

Deviations can come about two different ways. First, parents can agree to more or less than the default child support calculation. This happens through negotiation in a litigation, mediation, or collaborative divorce. Then, their divorce attorneys present that agreement to the judge.

In a high-conflict litigation, the parents may not be able to reach agreements through their lawyers.  Then, lawyers present evidence, and the judge decides whether the calculation under the Guidelines would be inequitable or inappropriate.

Read: High Conflict vs. Low Conflict Divorce

Read: How Is Child Support Calculated in Connecticut?

Connecticut Child Support Guidelines Deviation Criteria

In order to deviate from the support calculated under the guidelines, (1) the presumptive amount of support must first be stated and (2) specific deviation criteria must be cited.

Here are the six deviation criteria available under the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines:

  • Other financial resources are available to a parent.  Some parents may have financial resources that are not included in the definition of “net income” that’s used to calculate child support, but could be used by that parent for his or her own needs or the child’s needs.
  • Extraordinary expenses for the care or maintenance of a child. Extraordinary expenses must be essential for the proper care of a child, and are limited to educational expenses, unreimbursed medical expenses, and expenses for special needs.
  • Extraordinary parental expenses. Some parents may incur extra expenses that aren’t deducted from “gross income” under the Child Support Guidelines, but which are necessary for the parent to: (1) maintain a satisfactory parental relationship with the child, (2) continue employment, or (3) provide for the parent’s own medical needs.  Only significant visitation expenses, job-related unreimbursed employment expenses, and un-reimbursable medical and disability-related expenses can be considered.
  • Needs of a parent’s other dependents. If a parent has other dependents that haven’t already been taken into account, it may be possible to deviate from the Child Support Guidelines.
  • Coordination of total family support. Sometimes child support is considered in conjunction with a determination of total family support.  In order to determine total family support, you would look at how assets and debts were divided, any alimony, and tax implications.
  • Special circumstances.  This is a bit of a “catch-all” that addresses situations that are not covered in the other criteria, but where equity warrants a deviation. The Guidelines list five types of special circumstances:
    • Shared physical custody
    • Extraordinary disparity in parental income
    • Total child support exceeds 55% of the payor’s net income
    • Best interests of the child
    • Other equitable factors

Read: Is There Child Support if We Have Shared Physical Custody?

Next Steps

For more information about Connecticut divorce and family law, check out our Divorce Information and Facts.

If you have questions or want to learn more about how our team of divorce attorneys can help you with your divorce or post-judgment issue, please contact us either here or by phone at 860-530-4221.

Written by Meghan Freed