Child support payments in Arizona can be significantly lower than those right across the border in New Mexico, according to one study. Custody X Change, a smartphone app marketed to single and divorced parents to manage child custody and visitation schedules, used hypothetical data for a family in all 50 states to measure the differences in child support payments. Under federal law, each state is free to set its own child support guidelines, and the differences can be striking. In order to obtain clear results, they used the same family structure and income from both parents in all 50 states.
In Arizona, child support payments are among the nation’s lowest, ranging from $400 to $528 monthly on average. However, New Mexico’s payments are in the second-highest tier, with an average of $735 to $880 monthly for the same families with the same income and number of children. Cost of living is one important factor, but it is not always clear. For example, the New England states have the highest support payments in the country, with the exception of Vermont, one of the nation’s lowest. Other expensive states like New Jersey and Virginia also have relatively low assessments.
Elements factored into child support guidelines can include both parents’ incomes, other children of the noncustodial parent and health insurance costs. In a few states, the custodial parent’s income is still not considered when calculating child support. While this is usually the mother, a growing number of fathers have sole, joint, or primary custody of their children.
These wide variances in child support calculations may lead single parents to wonder how their relocation choices might affect their support payments. A family law attorney can provide advice and representation in working for a fair settlement of a range of issues, including child custody, support and visitation.