Connecticut has existing child support laws that address child support for special needs children who qualify. These laws should not be overlooked in a pending divorce or custody case as they can be enormously helpful.
The basic requirements to qualify for supplemental support are: (1) A child with an intellectual disability, mental disability, or who is physically disabled as defined by statute; (2) The child must reside with a parent; and, (3) The child must be principally dependent upon such parent for maintenance.
The parents of a special needs child who are contemplating a divorce or a pursing a child custody action should consult with legal counsel to help consider whether their child(ren) meet the statutory requirements for special needs child support. Ultimately, if the parents cannot agree whether the criteria apply, the issue can be decided by a judge.
Existing child support laws in Connecticut (for children without special needs) terminate child support awards when child attains the age of eighteen (18) — unless that child remains enrolled in high school. If a child remains in high school, child support can continue until the first to occur: high school graduation or the child attaining the age nineteen (19).
Existing laws, for a child who qualifies as “special needs” allow a judge to extend child support awards through the age of twenty-one (21). The statute also provides flexibility to family judges to enter enhanced support orders that are specifically attuned to a particular child’s unique needs.
Changes in the law will be effective as of October 1, 2023. The same eligibility criteria already in place will apply under the new statute. The big change in the law is that child support orders will be able to be extended until a qualifying special needs child attains the age twenty-six years (26).
This change is an important recognition that special needs children can require support even longer in life, and allow family courts to provide relief on a case-by-case basis to address individualized children’s special needs, rather than requiring the strict application of Child Support Guidelines for qualifying special needs children.
The lawyers at Needle | Cuda harness the benefits of child support laws in Connecticut for special needs children who qualify. Provide for the unique needs of your special needs child. Schedule a consultation with our Westport lawyers by calling 203-557-9500 or by contacting us online.