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What are the states that approve higher payments for Child Support?

Although the federal government mandates there be guidelines to avoid disparities when awarding child support, they are different in each state.

Although the federal government mandates there be guidelines to avoid disparities when awarding child support, they are different in each state.
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How states calculate how much child support should be awarded to a custodial parent to be paid by the non-custodial parent varies across the nation. Generally though, one of three models will be used to determine the base child support amount due.

Under federal law, states are required to establish guidelines to create a uniform method of calculating child support throughout each state, but there is no national set of guidelines creating a wide disparity in amounts awarded from state to state. The guidelines must be publicly available and reviewed every four years.

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Child support guidelines

The Office of Child Support Enforcement oversees the federal child support enforcement program in the US. Across the US guideline models all have some aspects in common that are laid out in each state’s “Child Support Guidelines Worksheet” which determines the standard calculation of child support.

All guidelines have provisions to calculate household income. Federal law requires that states take into consideration the healthcare expenses for the children, through insurance or other means when establishing child support guidelines.

Related news: Earn up to $10,000 to work in these US states?

Most guidelines include a “self-support reserve,” which is equal to 125 percent of the federal poverty level for a one-person family, for the parent that will pay child support. Likewise, most states incorporate special additions into the presumptive child support formula to account for childcare expenses, custodial situations and special deductions for changing family situations.

Three models for determining child support

The majority of states use “Income Shares Model” where child support is calculated so that the child or children get the same portion of income from the parents that they would otherwise receive were the parents living together. This is based on the idea that parents generally pool their incomes for the benefit of all household members to cover family expenses, including those for children.

Six states use the “Percentage of Income Model,” either flat or varying, where child support is generally based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income. Depending on the custodial arrangement or the number of nights that the non-custodial parent has with the child or children, may affect the formula for calculating what the paying parent is obliged to compensate the other.

Only three states use the “Melson Formula,” similar to the Income Shares Model, but takes into account the basic needs of the children as well as both parents.

The District of Columbia calculates the amount of child support using a hybrid model. First compensation is determined using the Varying Percentage Model, adjusting the level of income depending on the non-custodial parent’s earnings. Then subtracting from that an amount calculated with a formula based on the custodial parent’s income. You can look up calculations for your state’s formula at World Population Review.

Which states award higher child support payments?

A Custody X Change study of state formulas to calculate typical monthly child support payment in 2019, showed a gaping difference in typical monthly payments among states even though the financial circumstances of the parents are similar. The cost of living for a particular state was generally not reflected in the amount that was determined.

Researchers developed a scenario to calculate the average child support payment required by each state. Based on a hypothetical family using parental income data from Pew Research Center, they looked at a family with a mother, father, and two minor children, aged 7 and 10 years old.

The study gave primary custody to the mother, around 80 percent of custodial parents are the mother, and calculated that she retained 65 percent of parenting time, the average nationwide. Annual income for the mother was set at $45,000 and $55,000 for the father, then the researchers used each state’s formula to calculate the average payment a non-custodial father would make based on these amounts.

Five states with highest average child support

New Hampshire$1,035
Rhode Island$1,014
Source:Custody X Change

In Massachusetts the average monthly payment, which are the highest nationally, was $1,187 per month. On the other hand, just six hours away in Virginia, which has the lowest average monthly payment, the father could be expected to pay $402, nearly two thirds less.

They calculated that the average typical child support payment nationwide was $721 per month. The research found that child support rates between states are not directly correlated with the cost of living in those states. Only Hawaii, of the five most expensive states to live in, ranked within the 10 highest child support calculations.

Two of the other four states, Maryland and New Jersey, ranked in the bottom ten states with the lowest payments. While the remaining two, California and New York were respectively below and above the national average with average monthly payments calculated at $566 and $895.


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