Child support is often a major part of a divorced parent's income. Although losing the second salary in the home after divorce might make it challenging to juggle all of the expenses a couple was able to manage, child support helps ensure the children have what they need. The amount of child support that is awarded to a parent varies by location. Custodial parents in Illinois may have to budget more income for their children's expenses than those in Nevada or Washington.
Women have been in the workforce for decades but some states still don't include the mother's income when they compute the amount a father has to pay in child support. In states where this is the rule, fathers pay about $100 more per month on average. The others states consider the income of both parents but many don't align with the cost of living in the region.
States review child support guidelines every four years, yet most don't make major changes to their formulas very often. This could be because states are hesitant to make child support more than a noncustodial parent can afford and still have a reasonable standard of living. Custodial parents may get even less child support than they should if the noncustodial parent is self-employed.
Custodial parents can rarely maintain their standard of living on their own after divorce. To ensure that children have everything they need, family courts may award custodial parents child support based on the state's formula. Single parents may benefit from consulting with a divorce attorney who focuses on child support to ensure the amount of the award accurately reflects the financial situation of both parents.