November 3, 2009
CHILD SUPPORT IN CONNECTICUT
By: Susan Price, Senior Legislative Attorney
You asked several questions about child support in Connecticut.
Why are the Child Support Guidelines only reviewed every four years?
The frequency of the review of Connecticut's Child Support Guidelines is set by statute at every four years (CGS § 46b-215a). A bill raised by the Judiciary Committee in 2008, which did not pass, would have shortened the review period to every two years (SB 326).
At the February 25, 2008 Judiciary Committee public hearing, Attorney Lucy Potter, who had served on the commission charged with reviewing the guidelines for the past 16 years, testified in opposition to the bill. She indicated that such a change would be unworkable because:
1. it took two of the past four commissions three years to complete their review and revision of the guidelines;
2. once completed, the guidelines must be reviewed and approved by both the attorney general and legislative Regulation Review Committee, which usually takes three and six months, respectively;
3. problems with existing guidelines often prompt court rulings, which Attorney Potter did not think could be resolved in a two-year period;
4. it would be disruptive to court operations to have to retrain judges and court personnel so frequently; and
5. it would be quite difficult to find volunteers willing to serve on the commission if the guidelines had to be changed every two years.
Why is time a noncustodial parent spends with his or her children not treated as a credit against child support payments?
Time spent with a noncustodial parent's children is a basis for deviating from the Child Support Guidelines, permitting a judge to reduce the amount of child support he or she must pay. But the time spent must be substantial. The guidelines indicate that a deviation is only appropriate when a shared physical custody arrangement:
1. substantially reduces the custodial parent's, or substantially increases the noncustodial parent's, expenses for the child; and
2. sufficient funds remain for the parent receiving support to meet the basic needs of the child after deviation (Child Support and Arrearage Guidelines § 46b-215a-3(b)(6)(A) (August 1, 2005)).
Does Connecticut consider other states' guidelines in the formulation of its own?
No. But most states, including Connecticut, calculate presumptive support amounts using the same formula (the Income Shares Model). The guidelines are formulated using economic data from national studies, adjusted for the state's cost of living.