Officially released September 8, 2018.
In short: (1) the trial court must calculate guidelines based on actual income before considering guidelines based on earning capacity for purposes of deviation, (2) a deviation requires a finding that application of the guidelines would be inequitable, (3) a child support order that prevents modification as individual children reach the age of majority is abuse of discretion.
Husband appealed from judgment of dissolution of marriage on the basis that the trial court erred in calculating the presumptive child support obligation and abused its discretion in ordering non-modifiable alimony and support.
The parties had three minor children. Husband was ordered to pay non-modifiable unallocated alimony and child support of $12,500 per month until death of either party, Wife’s remarriage or the date of the youngest child’s 18th birthday, whichever first occurred. The deviation was premised on the extraordinary income disparity and provision of alimony.
The Appellate Court held that the trial court erred in calculating its guidelines based on Husband’s earning capacity without also calculating the amount of support required based on actual income. Battistotti v. Suzzanne A., 182 Conn. App. 40, 52 n.8 (2018). The trial court further erred by not find make a finding that application of the guidelines would be inequitable. Conn. Agencies Regs. § 46B-215a-5C § 46b-215a-5c (a).
Footnote 8 provided a review of case law indicating that there is an ambiguity as to whether a court may enter an order of non-modifiable child support at all. “[A] question continues to exist as to whether the trial court, having the authority under § 46b-86 (a) to issue a nonmodifiable child support order, reasonably exercises its authority under the statute by issuing a child support order that precludes modification even in the event of a substantial change of circumstances adversely affecting the adequacy of financial support for the child.” However, regardless of that ambiguity, the Appellate Court also found that this non-modifiable unallocated order was abuse of discretion as it provided no reduction with each child’s attaining the age of majority.