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Monday, May 04, 2009

Actual Costs of Raising Child: Federal and State Child Support Guidelines

I wanted to take a moment and review Title 45 Sec 302.56 with you, which is part of the Title IV-D program. Title IV-D is a voluntary program that states may opt-in for federal grants and incentive funds for the operation of child support enforcement and paternity establishment programs. Please note that if a state fails to comply with a federal mandate, that it may be grounds for the state to lose federal funding or be forced to pay back portions of already received funding.

Federal Mandates require that State Child Support Guidelines be reviewed periodically, and upon that review that state guidelines must "consider economic data on the actual costs of raising children."

Title 45 §302.56 Guidelines for setting child support awards.

(h) As part of the review of a State’s guidelines required under paragraph (e) of this section, a State must consider economic data on the cost of raising children and analyze case data, gathered through sampling or other methods, on the application of, and deviations from, the guidelines. The analysis of the data must be used in the State’s review of the guidelines to ensure that deviations from the guidelines are limited.

For those of you that are monitoring your state's implementation of child support guidelines, the USDA regularly produces a report on the ACTUAL COSTS OF RAISING A CHILD IN SINGLE PARENT AND TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE HOUSEHOLDS.

You can view the historical data on raising children back to 1995. Further, since both parents have to maintain their own housing, you could strip this number from the actual cost of raising the child, and then divide the remaining total by two (for two parents) and that would be each parents' equal share for the actual cost of raising a child. You will find it is likely lower than what most child support guidelines are. You should raise this point, since the data is openly available.

Feel free to share your findings with me on this issues.

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