Reject CT CS Commission’s Recommendations!

On January 27, 2015 the Legislative Regulation Review Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly meets to consider the child support recommendations submitted by the Commission on Child Support Guidelines. We call on the Committee to reject the Commission’s recommendations. Show your support! Attend the session on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, at 10:00 AM in Room 1E of the Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT.

Background
Connecticut needs family-friendly child support guidelines. Connecticut’s Commission ignored Connecticut’s 2005 law defining the Best Interests of the Child, which says that Best Interests include strong and continuing connections with both parents.

In a 2014 letter to Connecticut’s Commission on Child Support Guidelines, Department of Social Services Commissioner Rodrick L. Bremby writes: “emotional, social and educational support as well as financial support is imperative to the growth of a well-rounded child.” He further states that the Guideline percentages of income for low income obligors are unrealistic and “counterproductive to fostering the parent-child relationship as it may lead to uncollectable child support orders and drive noncustodial parents to underground economies and alienation from their children.”

Call to action
We call on the Committee to reject the Commission’s recommendations because the recommendations:

  • Price poor obligors out of the family equation. The Commission rejected proposals to lower percentages for low income obligors, cherry-picking data prepared by their own expert to arrive at this conclusion.
  • Increase Guideline percentages for middle and high-income obligors. This is contrary to evidence indicating that the actual, marginal costs of raising children is significantly below, not above, Guideline amounts.
  • Put those paying alimony at a significant financial disadvantage. The Guidelines would in future ignore income from alimony when calculating child support.
  • Ignore the fact that the totality of court-ordered payments necessary to hire court-ordered professionals (e.g., GALs, AMCs, therapists), plus court-ordered child support, is putting individuals, many of whom are women, into a situation where it is impossible for them to meet the court-ordered obligations.
  • Fail to adequately consider substantial data collected in Massachusetts on this subject, data that resulted in the adoption of Guidelines with the rebuttable presumption of shared parenting in that state in the summer of 2013.

Conclusion
Connecticut’s Commission is proposing family-unfriendly Guidelines, perpetuating a winner-takes-all system that is in no child’s interest. Massachusetts recognizes the interconnection between child support, parenting time, and financial responsibility and, as such, actively encourages shared parental responsibility, both emotional and financial. Other states have adopted a similar model, or are close to. Connecticut’s Commission has not considered the substance of the reasoning leading to the changes in Massachusetts but certainly must do the same.

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2 thoughts on “Reject CT CS Commission’s Recommendations!

  1. We need to show that we want to encourage both parents to be involved with their children. Tell the legislature to end child-unfriendly Support Guidelines.

  2. A presumption of shared parenting AND true shared financial responsibilities would be best for children, and parents, as would be removing the designations “custodial” and “non-custodial” parents. Prior to the divorce, both parents are equal and share equal importance in their children’s lives; there should be no difference after parents are divorced. The higher-earning parent should not be required to effectively support both households. High child support awards remove the ability of the higher earning/non-custodial parent to make financial decisions on behalf of his or her own children, understandably leading to frustration and resentment, and potentially harming the co-parenting relationship.

    My children love that they spend equal time with me and with their dad; we equally share specific child-related costs (e.g., activities, clothing), and each are responsible for maintaining our own homes. This fair and reasonable arrangement was one we arrived at ourselves, however. As the “custodial” parent, a Connecticut court would have awarded a sizable amount of support to me – despite the fact that I am the higher earner – utterly failing to comprehend or care about the negative impact that would have had on my ex-husband and, consequently, my kids. My children have everything that they need, and my ex-husband and I each have the freedom to move on with our lives, as neither of us is financially beholden to the other. Moreover, this fair arrangement has allowed us to maintain a positive relationship, so we are able to effectively co-parent and communicate about our children.

    Currently, the non-custodial parent is completely at the mercy of the person he or she is divorcing; this should not be the case, there should be a clear, and predictable outcome. For those receiving high awards, there should be transparency in spending, whether that is via a shared account or monthly statement; if one parent is forced to pay $1,000/month for his or her children, there should be clarity in where that money is going – particularly when the payor parent also maintains a home for spending 50% time with the children, and has all the same costs: housing, food, clothing, and so on. That transparency might lead to a light-bulb moment: oh! these high support awards are helpful only to the parent receiving them (kind of like alimony), they hurt the payor parent, and are negatively affecting kids, as the payor parent has a diminished ability to care directly for them!

    Massachusetts got it right; I am hopeful Connecticut can as well.

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