When parents split up, they have to figure out how they are going to take care of their child as individuals. This generally involves determining who will have custody and what kind of financial responsibility each parent will have toward the child. The Connecticut Child Support Enforcement Program is available to assist you in figuring out the details each parent’s financial role in the child’s life.

Who Needs to Pay Child Support?

In Connecticut, as in other states, both parents have an obligation to financially support their child, even if they are no longer taking care of the child together. Connecticut courts consider several factors in deciding a parent’s eligibility to receive child support. Generally, the parent who has custody of the child is the one who is entitled to receive child support as they are the only parent providing direct financial care to the child.

How Can I Petition for Child Support?

In order to be legally entitled to child support payments, you will need to get an order from the court. This can be achieved by formally petitioning the court for a child support order. The court will establish the amount of money owed in the form of child support, as well as which parent will be responsible to provide health insurance and childcare payments. Connecticut courts follow the “Income Shares Model,” determining the amount of child support owed by estimating how much the parents would spend on the child or children if they lived together in one home, and then dividing this amount between the parents based on their individual income.

What If I Do Not Pay Child Support?

If you fail to pay child support, the Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) of the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) can enforce the order. Generally, when a noncustodial parent first stops paying child support, an income withholding is usually issued against the employer of the parent who owes support, which is known as wage garnishment. If this is not sufficient to get the child support payments, then the OCSS may use other collection tools get the money, including withholding unemployment compensation benefits, withholding retirement/pension payments, intercepting tax refunds, intercepting lottery winnings, and/or seizing assets from a financial institution. Additionally, if you fail to pay child support, you may be required to make lump sum payments for retroactive child support to make up for any missed payments. 

What Can the Other Parent Do If I Fail to Pay for Support?

In addition to relying on support from the OCSS to enforce the child support order, the custodial parent can contact the Support Enforcement Services Unit (SES) of the Connecticut court system. Through the court, the SES can hold the noncustodial parent in contempt for nonpayment. Punishments for being found in contempt can include everything from an increased income withholding to jail time, if the withholding was willful.

How Can I Stop Paying Child Support?

Regardless of the circumstances, you should never simply withhold child support. Instead, If your financial situation changes or you believe the amount you are paying is too much, you can try to go through the court to get a modification of the child support payment and/or income withholding arrangement. Generally, you must continue supporting your child until the court order ends when the child turns 18, or 19 if your child is still in high school. However, you can get out of the child support order if you give up your parental rights to the child or if you manage to get primary custody of the child.

Where Can I Find the Right Lawyer?

It is important to make sure children are taken care of, and child support obligations are taken very seriously in Connecticut. The process determining the initial order, modifications, and enforcement for child support obligations can be complicated to navigate without assistance. For these reasons, it is important to consult with a Connecticut child support lawyer to discuss how to proceed and to help guide you in dealing with any problems that arise.