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Study finds wide national variance in child support payments

According to the software company Custody X Change, a typical child support payment in Arizona is among the lowest in the country, with the usual payments ranging from about $400 to $528. However, just across the state line in New Mexico, the typical payment is $735 to $880, and in Nevada, it is $881 to $1,187. With every state calculating child support differently, a parent who is relocating might want to consult an attorney to find out how child support payments will be affected.

The company imagined a hypothetical situation in which the mother's income was $45,000 and the father's was $55,000. The hypothetical also assumed that the couple had two children and that the mother was the custodial parent, with 65% of child care time compared to 35% for the father. While the income estimate may have been high based on information from the census and Pew Research, the study did highlight the wide variation in child custody payments.

It would be reasonable to assume that cost of living is a factor, but this is not always the case. One of the costliest states, New Jersey, ranked 47th for payments. How much time each parent spends with a child and the value a court places on that is another factor that can cause wide variance.

How spousal support payments are calculated may vary even more, and people who anticipate paying or receiving child and spousal support in a divorce may want to work with an attorney. It is important for parents to understand that child support is an entirely separate payment from spousal support and is intended for the well-being of the children. A parent who cannot keep up child support payments because of job loss or another change in circumstances may be able to get a modification of the amount.

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