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States vary widely in child support formulas

Single parents in Wisconsin may be surprised to learn that child support payments amounts vary significantly by state. According to one study conducted by Custody X Change, an app that helps divorced or separated parents deal with custody arrangements, child support formulas were found to produce widely different results from state to state. The researchers used the same information about family size, parental income and child age for each state and produced sample support amounts that ranged from $400 at the lowest to $1,187 at the highest.

There was some correlation between higher cost of living and higher child support payments. With the exception of Vermont, New England states had some of the highest payments in the country; these states also have a high cost of living. However, states like New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia have a high cost of living but with some of the lowest child support payments. Under federal law, every state can set its own laws about how child support is handled. The custody split between the parents is one major factor in determining support obligations, as are government aid payments and health insurance.

A few states still fail to account for a mother's income, especially when she is the custodial parent. This is still true even though family court judges nationwide increasingly prefer joint custody as a solution for many families. Wisconsin support payments fall into the second-lowest bracket, mirroring neighbor states like Michigan and Minnesota.

Child support payments can be critical to protecting a child's growth and well-being, especially when the noncustodial parent makes a larger amount of money. A family law attorney could work with a single parent to pursue a fair child support agreement or enforce an existing order that is going unpaid.

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