Every divorced parent has a picture of how they think child support and custody of the children will work -- but that picture can be heavily distorted not only by the stories of others but the geographical area in which you happen to live.
New research indicates that child support payments vary dramatically from one state to the next. Here are some of the basic facts about both issues based on a study from Custody X Change:
Here's the hypothetical "typical" setup of a divorced family used for the study (which was drawn from national averages obtained in prior studies from places like the Pew Research Center):
- A mother earning $45,000 per year
- A father earning $55,000 per year
- Two minor children, aged 7 and 10
- The mother has 65% of the custody time with the children
If you're the father in that scenario, you can expect to pay anywhere from $402 per month in child support to $1,187 per month! Many paying parents end up shocked by how much (or how little) they have to pay in support because they only pay attention to the national average -- which is $721 a month.
Hawaii, which has a notoriously high cost of living, ranks on the upper end of the child support payment spectrum. A payer in this situation can expect to hand over $1,014 per month in support. However, New Jersey and Maryland are also considered expensive states - and they're on the low end of the spectrum.
It's important to note that most states give judges a great deal of leeway when ordering support and that numerous factors can influence how high or how low a support order will be. In any case, your smartest move is to discuss the situation with your divorce attorney early -- whether you expect to pay support or receive it.