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Child support guidelines are not created equal

In the state of Texas, an individual can expect to pay up to $880 a month in child support. The amount that a specific parent will pay depends on a variety of factors including his or her ability to pay. When developing a child support order, a court wants to balance a child's needs with a parent's ability to make payments. In many states, the income of both the mother and the father are factors when determining a monthly payment.

However, the state of Texas is one of four that does not consider the mother's income when making such a calculation. Therefore, it is not uncommon for parents to pay more than those in surrounding states. Other factors that could be considered include whether a parent receives alimony or if a parent has children from another relationship to support. Parents may also get credit for having physical custody of their children for a tangible amount of time.

States typically review their guidelines every four years to ensure that a child's needs are met. According to a representative from the American Bar Association, child support amounts should be tied to the cost of living in a given state. However, this is not necessarily the case as New Jersey requires parents to pay among the least to support their children despite a high cost of living.

Custodial parents are generally entitled to compensation to help pay common expenses related to raising a child. These costs may include buying food, providing housing or covering routine or other medical expenses. Parents who fail to make payments may be subject to jail time or other penalties. Those who are owed child support from a noncustodial parent may take legal action in an effort to collect any amount currently in arrears.

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