Gibbons v. Gibbons
While a court must determine whether a minor child is in need before it orders child support, the language of C.G.S. §46b-84 requires only that the court consider the factors set out in C.G.S. §46b-84(d), in its determination of need. The plaintiff, Richard Gibbons, appealed from the trial court's judgment ordering him to pay the defendant, Suzanne Gibbons, child support. He argued, inter alia, that the court abused its discretion in ordering that he pay child support when there was no evidence that the minor children were in need of maintenance. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The plaintiff argued that the defendant did not provide evidence that the two minor children were in need of maintenance outside of the care and expenses addressed in their separation agreement and absent such a showing, the court should not have awarded child support. Although the separation agreement, reflecting a shared parenting plan, did not provide that either party pay child support, a provision noted that "[i]n the event there are any custodial changes….then child support shall be paid…" The plaintiff argued that the court abused its discretion in crediting the defendant's testimony that the plaintiff's time with the minor children was not equal to her own after he moved to Chicago for employment purposes and that she incurred expenses for the minor children to which he did not contribute, over his own testimony that he spent considerable time with the children and provided for them as much as they needed. However, it was the trial court's role to weigh each party's testimony. The Appellate Court declined to usurp that position. The plaintiff was correct that a court must determine whether a minor child is in need before it orders child support. The court did so here in considering the factors set out in C.G.S. §46b-84(d), in its determination of need. Based on testimony and the record, the trial court found that the plaintiff's lack of response and untimely responses to the defendant forced the defendant to make expenditures for the minor children "out of necessity." The court complied with C.G.S. §46b-84(d), which provides that the court shall consider factors relating to the parents' as well as the children's financial situations.