Divorce almost inevitably brings up anger, disappointment and worries about the future. A major concern for divorcing parents is how best to determine the costs of raising a child and how to figure out the amount each parent will contribute to those child rearing and support costs.

Breaking Down the Costs

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Agriculture Department estimates the average cost of raising a child born in 2009 at $222,360. That’s up slightly less than one percent from 2008: expenses for health care, education and child care rose the most during the year, while transportation costs dropped due to falling gas prices.

Child care alone consumes 17 percent of the total cost of raising a child, while education eats up another 16 percent.

According to the department, for a middle-income, two-parent family, the annual cost of child-rearing ranges from $11,650 to $13,530, depending on a child’s age. Families in the Northeast have to contend with the highest child-rearing costs, while Southern families have the lowest.

For parents with teenagers, there are costs parents of younger kids won’t have to contend with for awhile: a computer, more expensive clothes (two sets if custody is shared), car expenses, allowance, a cellphone, and one of the biggest: college (this cost is not included the Agriculture Department’s estimate).

Regardless of the age of the children, divorcing parents, typically with the aid of family law attorneys, must figure out how much each parent will contribute in child support to cover expenses related to health insurance, clothes, school supplies, toys, food, housing and more.

Determining Child Support in Connecticut

In Connecticut, the state has guidelines with which child support orders can be calculated. The amount each parent will contribute after the divorce is determined in large part by income.

The state’s support guidelines are based on an income shares model which presumes that “the child should receive the same proportion of parental income as he or she would have received if the parents lived together.”

Though the state has published a child support spreadsheet and complex calculations, determining fair child support is often not as simple as entering numbers into a formula. Many cases call for deviation from state guidelines, which is why it is crucial that the court get a complete understanding of the incomes and child-related expenses involved.

If you are a parent facing divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney who understands not only the basics of divorce, but also the nuances of child support considerations and family law. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer protects clients not only who want to shield their children from emotional stress in divorce, but also from financial distress that can accompany an unfair split of child-rearing expenses.


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