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Study says states vary in child support amounts

A company called Custody X Change did a study that examined how child support payments differ from state to state. It started with a hypothetical family that had two children and a combined income of $100,000, with the custodial parent making $55,000. The custodial parent spent 35% of the parenting time with the child. Based on these figures, the study estimated a typical California child support payment would range from $530 to $730.

Across the border in Nevada, the same parent might pay between $881 and $1,187. Across the northern border into Oregon, the payments might only be $400 to $528. The payment amounts were not particularly connected to cost of living. Judges are allowed some discretion when deciding child support amounts in addition to the formula that every state has. The amount of time each parent spends with a child might affect the amount ordered by a court.

States and courts might also hesitate to name an amount too high for a noncustodial parent to pay. In some cases, this could lead to the noncustodial parent ceasing contact with the child. Other factors that might be considered include who pays for the child's health insurance and whether either parent is caring for other children.

When it comes to making a decision about child custody and visitation, a court considers what is in the best interests of the child. Usually, this means starting with the assumption that a child should be able to build a relationship with both parents. Courts are reluctant to restrict a parent's access to a child unless the child is not safe with the parent. In some cases, a court may restrict a parent to supervised visitation only or deny access. If a parent plans to move to another state, it might be necessary to get permission from the court.

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