Court Rules that Father’s Child Support Obligation Did Not Automatically End Upon Child’s Eighteenth Birthday

A decision rendered in the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Hartford illustrates the consequences of failing to file a motion to modify child support in a timely manner.  In this particular case, the parties obtained a divorce in 1994.  At that time, they agreed that the husband would pay child support for their minor child.  Several years later, the parties stipulated to an increase in the husband’s obligation.  However, none of the agreements contained language specifying when the husband’s child support obligation would end.

Although the child turned eighteen in 2011, the husband continued to pay support for close to another year.  When he finally sought a modification, he requested reimbursement for overpayments dating back to the child’s eighteenth birthday, claiming that the court’s order was self-executing, or, in other words, terminated automatically.

The Court’s Decision

In denying the husband’s request for reimbursement, the Court noted that under C.G.S.A. 46b-84, a parent is obligated to provide support until a child reaches the age of eighteen, or if the child is still in high school and in need of maintenance, until the child graduates or reaches the age of nineteen, whichever occurs first.  Thus, pursuant to the parties’ agreement which was silent as to termination, the husband’s support obligation could have continued well beyond the child’s eighteenth birthday.

Because the parties’ agreement contained no language calling for an automatic termination, the court found that the provision was not self-executing.  Moreover, a child support award may not be modified retroactively prior to the date of service of the motion.  Thus, although the court terminated the husband’s child support obligation, it only ordered the wife to reimburse him for the amount he paid after she received his motion.

By: Joseph Maya, Esq.

Should you have questions regarding child support, or divorce matters in general, please feel free to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya  He can be reached in the firm’s Westport office at (203) 221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

Our firm in Westport serves clients with divorce, matrimonial, and family law issues from all over the state including the towns of: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newton, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.