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The Pitfalls of Using a Child Support Schedule Based on Outdated Data.

June 2004

William M. Rodgers III, Bloustein School of Public Policy, Rutgers University and John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. Yana van der Meulen Rodgers, Department of Women and Gender Studies, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

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A strong rationale for updating child support guidelines arises from changes over time in the measurement of expenditures on children, as well as changes in the empirical relationship between expenditures on children and the income of parents. Such changes affect the accuracy of the numerics upon which states' child support guidelines are based. This study evaluates an alternative child support guideline that was proposed for Virginia and draws lessons for other states that similarly base their guidelines on older survey data. Regression results show that over time, the child expenditure and household income relationship has changed considerably. Furthermore, the largest increases in expenditures attributable to children have occurred for lower- and middle-income households.

Child Support