Child support payments, in theory, are designed with the best interest of the children in mind so that they can maintain their quality of life after their parents split up. However, as many California parents have found out, depending on who is paying and receiving, the amount might be considered too high or too low. While there are federal guidelines for establishing support payments, the law does allow each state to establish their own rules regarding payment, and this often leads to a wide range of amounts for families in similar situations.
According to a study by Custody X Change, child support payments can vary by about as much as $700 from state to state. The same study revealed that Massachusetts ranks first in support payments and Nevada ranks second, but overall, the Northeast region is highest, and the Rocky Mountain region is lowest. There are several factors that influence the amount of support payments beyond cost of living. In some states, for example, the income of the custodial parent is still not taken into consideration, leading to payments being about $100 more than in other states.
States also worry about establishing such high support payments that non-custodial parents choose to abandon their children to stop paying. As judges have discretion and payments are established case by case, the difference from one state to another can be as large as two-thirds of the higher payment. This can be crucial when parents are considering moving to another state without first finding out how the new location might impact the amount of payment they receive in their new state.
Parents who find themselves discussing child support payments may benefit from the guidance of a lawyer with family law experience. The lawyer may provide information about state legislation and the impact of a possible move to another state.