The contentious child support battle between supermodel Linda Evangelista and French businessman Francois-Henri Pinault ended mid-trial when a sealed agreement was approved by a New York Family Court judge. Pinault and Evangelista were never married to each other. Their relationship produced one child who is now five years old. Evangelista was allegedly demanding over $40,000 per month in child support from Pinault whose lawyer considered the demand to be a masked quest for alimony. Although the terms of their settlement have not been revealed, the case causes one to question what types of financial obligations unmarried parents have in order to support their children in Connecticut.
Under Connecticut law, a parent has a continuing duty to support their child. The purpose of a child support order is to ensure that a child is cared for and that the child’s well-being is promoted. An order for support is generally based upon the needs of a child as well as a particular parent’s financial ability to support their child. Connecticut has established certain Child Support and Arrearage Guidelines that the court is required to consider in order to provide a uniform approach in establishing adequate amounts of a parent’s support obligation as well as procedures for the repayment of arrearages for outstanding balances owed. These guidelines are subject to a particular parent’s ability to make such support payments and allows for more consistency in the treatment of individual parents with similar financial abilities across the state. Certain factors regarding the particular circumstances of the parents and the child allow the court to deviate from the child support guidelines on a case by case basis.
When the combined net weekly income of a particular set of parents exceeds the sum of $4,000, presumably as was the case with Linda Evangelista and Francois-Henri Pinault, a child support order is crafted by the court on a case-by-case basis in Connecticut. In such cases, the current support amount under the guidelines that is assigned to parents whose net weekly income totals $4,000 serves as the minimum presumptive amount that is required to support a child. Although the court ultimately has the discretion to make these determinations as to the amount of a child support obligation above the minimum presumptive amount, a child support order is not a mechanism to equalize the income streams of two parents. A court’s order for child support above the presumptive minimum amount is to be governed by the same principles that are considered by the court for parents whose combined net weekly income amounts fall within the guidelines. These principles include the notion that a child support obligation, when viewed as a percentage of the parent’s combined net weekly income, should decline as the parent’s combined income level rises.