Child Support Laws by State

state by state child support laws

Child support, which is the amount of money required by law to be paid monthly by a non-custodial parent for their child. Judges in every state have their own child support law and guidelines which they follow.

Every state follows any of the three models for child support computation.

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Quick Summaries of State Child Support Guidelines

Every state follows any of the three models for child support computation.

Income Shares Model:

The child should receive similar financial support that was obtained when the parents were still together. This formula is the most popular as it’s used in 35 states.

States that use the Income Shares Model

40 US states
Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming, Guam, Virgin Islands.


Percentage of Income Model:

In this model, the support is calculated as a percentage of the income of the non-custodial parent. There are two variants of this model:

Flat Percentage Model

Varying Percentage Model

States that use the Percentage of Income Model

7 US states
Alaska, Mississippi, Nevada, and Wisconsin (Flat Percentage Model)
Arkansas, North Dakota, and Texas (Varying Percentage Model)


Melson Formula:

Melson formula: an upgraded version of the income shares standard, which includes a standard living adjustment whenever parents get an income increase. It was developed by a judge in Delaware Family Court and was fully explained in Dalton v. Clanton, 559 A.2d 1197 (Del. 1989).

States that use the Melson Formula

3 US states
Delaware, Hawaii, and Montana

State family law also covers child support guidelines that you need to be acquainted with if you’re considering divorce. There may be states with no child support laws or do not enforce them strictly, so it pays to do your research to ensure that your child gets all the financial support he or she needs after you divorce your spouse.

Child support guidelines by state: please see the chart attached. Most states will continue child support until eighteen to nineteen years of age. The amount of child support can vary as much as $700 when comparing two states.

Child support rates do not necessarily correlate with the standard of living in a state. Texas, North Dakota, Mississippi, and Arkansas are the only four states that don’t impute the mother’s income into their child support computation.

The idea that women are entering the workforce isn’t factored into these four states’ calculations. Deadbeat parents in California amount to 76% of child support with reasons ranging from denial of paternity, preference to give up a child, lack of accountability, lack of visitation, and inability to pay.

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State-by-State Child Support Laws and Guidelines