What is shared custody and how does it affect child support in Connecticut?
A parenting plan may call for the parents to share custody of a child. In such an arrangement, the child essentially has two homes with toys, clothes and other possessions in the homes of both parents. Shared custody does not always result in a strict 50/50 schedule. However, the parenting schedule sets forth substantial time for the child with each parent in the home of that parent.
Shared custody and its effect on child support is often misunderstood. A parent "fighting" for shared custody is often disappointed to learn that shared custody does not automatically result in a waiver of child support. In other words, even if a parent is awarded shared custody they may still have a child support obligation.
Part of the misunderstanding probably lies in the wording of the Worksheet for Child Support Guidelines. The Worksheet simply states, "shared custody", as a criterion to deviate from the Guidelines. Parents likely rely on this without further inquiry.
I have also heard parents make the argument they need not pay child support because the child is "with me just as much - its common sense." Courts are not easily persuaded by this argument.
So, when will shared custody affect child support?
Deviation from the amount set forth in the Child Support Guidelines based on shared physical custody is only warranted when:
1. The arrangement 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 the support to meet the basic needs of the child after deviation.
1. Both prongs of the test must be met.
2. Deviation does not necessarily mean elimination of child support. If the Court finds that deviation from the Guidelines is warranted, the Court may simply reduce the amount of child support rather than eliminate child support altogether.
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