Are child support amounts the same in each state?

Child support amounts vary significantly from state to state. This might be of interest to Tennessee parents who receive or pay child support. While logic dictates that child support payments should reflect the cost of living, a variety of factors actually influence how much child support is awarded in each state. Additionally, while the federal government does provide guidelines, it also allows each state to set up their own formulas for calculating child support.

Child support is one of the most important decisions to be negotiated after a split. The amount of support awarded can make a deep impact in a child's life, so it is a delicate process. Still, according to a study by Custody X Change, a company that provides a web application that helps parents set support agreements, the difference in payment amounts could be as much as 2/3 of the total amount. For example, in Massachusetts, which is the state with the highest average support payment, a divorced parent of 2 children ages 7 and 10, can receive $1,187. However, if they move to Vermont, that amount can decrease by half to $519. Moving south to Virginia can decrease the original amount by as much as 2/3.

There are a variety of reasons for the range in payments. One is that some states do not want to overburden the non-custodial parent with a payment so large that the parent is tempted to abandon the child to stop paying. Another is that some states, for example, do not calculate the custodial parent's income into their formula, leading to payments that are generally $100 higher.

When parents are getting ready to negotiate support, they might contact a family law lawyer who might provide information and guidance. The lawyer may represent them in negotiations with their ex and in court.

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