Summaries of State Child Support Laws

Nearly every aspect of family law is governed at the state level, which means the procedures and rules for determining child support payments differ by state. It can all get quite confusing, so it helps to get a handle on the rules and limitations of your state before negotiating with your child's other parent or guardian. In Arizona, for example, the court may not order parents to pay for college after their financial obligation ends when the child is 18. Kentucky law, meanwhile, allows courts to order payment of college tuition (on a case-by-case basis).

The following summaries will help you better understand your state's child support laws, including how amounts are determined, when support ends, and other factors.

State Child Support Laws: Summaries

Alabama. Child support is determined under the Alabama Child Support Guidelines, unless the Court finds grounds to deviate from the guidelines. In Alabama, the Department of Human Resources is responsible for enforcing child support obligations. The court retains jurisdiction to modify child support, up or down, until the children reach the age of 19.

Alaska. Child support is based on Flat Percentage of Income model. Support terminates at age 18, or 19 if child is enrolled in high school or the equivalent and is residing with custodial parent. Court may not require either parent to pay for post-majority college tuition.

Arizona. Child support guidelines are based on Income Shares Model, and award is calculated on gross income. Support terminates at age 18, or when the child graduates from high school. The court may not order the parents to pay for the college education costs of the child.

Arkansas. Child Support guidelines adopt Varying Percentage of Income Model, basing noncustodial parent's obligation on a percentage of net income, which percentage decreases as income goes higher. Support terminates at age 18 or when child graduates from high school. Parents cannot be compelled to pay for the college education of their children.

California. An explicit link between custody and child support is made by the provision that a court may order financial compensation to one parent for those periods of time the other parent fails to assume care taking responsibility. There may be additional financial compensation awarded to a parent who has been repeatedly thwarted by the other parent in attempts to exercise custody/visitation. Statewide Uniform Guidelines are an Income Shares model, explicitly taking into consideration the time each parent has custody of the child.

Colorado. Child Support Guidelines are based on Income Shares model, based on gross income of both parents. Support terminates at age 18 or when child graduates from high school. Parents cannot be compelled to pay for the college education of their children.

Connecticut. Child Support guidelines are based on the Income Shared Model, taking into consideration the net income of both parents. Child support terminates when the child reaches 18 years of age.

Delaware. Delaware uses the Melson Formula in determining child support, based primarily on the parents' net available income. If the court finds these guidelines "unjust or inappropriate" for a given case, it will deviate from them.

District of Columbia. Child support guidelines are a hybrid model, sharing aspects of both the income shares and percentage of income model. The award is based on parties' gross incomes, with a self-support reserve for each parent. By statute, a child is entitled to support until age 21.

Florida. Child Support Guidelines are the Income Shares Model of support, figured on net income. Health insurance, childcare, and education expenses are added to the basic award. Support terminates at age 18, or 19 if the child will graduate from high school by that time.

Georgia. Child support is statutory. It is the flat percentage of income model, calculated on gross income, with most extra expenses being a deviation factor.

Hawaii. Guidelines set out in court rule follow the Melson Formula. Support is calculated on net income, with allowances for household members.

Idaho. Idaho's child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares model. Child support is prioritized over the needs of parents or creditors when determining the allocation of family resources.

Illinois. Child support guidelines are statutory, based on a flat percentage of income model based on net income.

Indiana. Child support guidelines are set out in the Indiana Rules of Court. The guidelines are based on the income shares model, based on gross income. Support may include sums necessary for a child's education, including post-majority education.

Iowa. Child support guidelines are enacted by the supreme court of Iowa by court rule. The guidelines are based on the income shares model, based on gross income.

Kansas. Kansas uses the Income Shares model for its child support guidelines. Parent paying child support must pay until the child turns 18 (or 19 if they still attend high school).

Kentucky. Child support guidelines set out by statute. The guidelines are based on the income shares model, based on gross income. Support may include sums necessary for a child's education, including post-majority education.

Louisiana. Child support guidelines are statutory. They are based on the Income Shares Model and are based on gross income of the parents.

Maine. Child support guidelines are statutory. They are based on the Income Shares Model, based on gross income.

Maryland. Child support guidelines set out by statute. The guidelines are based on the income shares model, based on gross income.

Massachusetts. Child Support Guidelines are provided in the Massachusetts Court Rules, promulgated by the Supreme Judicial Court. The Massachusetts guidelines are a hybrid form of the Percentage of Income model and Income Shares Model. Support is calculated on the gross income of the non-custodial parent, but then offset by a percentage of income of the custodial parent over a certain floor. Support for education of the child is through age 21.

Michigan. Child support payments are made through the Michigan Friend of the Court Bureau. Child support guidelines are contained in the Michigan Friend of Court Child Support Manual. The guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model, calculated on each parent's net income.

Minnesota. Child support guidelines are based on the Varying Percentage of Income formula, calculated on net income.

Mississippi. Child support guidelines are based on the Flat Percentage of Income model, calculated on net income.

Missouri. Child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Formula, calculated on gross income.

Montana. Child support guidelines are set out in the Montana Administrative Rules. The support guidelines are based on the Melson Formula, calculated on net income.

Nebraska. Child support guidelines were established by court rule and are contained in the Rules of the Supreme Court. The guidelines are based on the Income Shares Formula and are calculated on net income.

Nevada. Child support guidelines are based on the varying percentage of income model. Support is figured by applying a percentage to the obligor's gross income, which percentage gradually decreases as the income rises.

New Hampshire. Child support amounts are set out by statute. The guidelines are based on the Income shares model figured on net income.

New Jersey. Child support guidelines are contained in New Jersey Court Rules. The guidelines are based on the Income Shares model figured on net income.

New Mexico. Child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model, calculated on gross income.

New York. Child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model, calculated on net income.

North Carolina. Child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model and calculated on gross income.

North Dakota. North Dakota calculates child support amounts based on a percentage of the obligor's income.

Ohio. Child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model and is calculated on net income. Termination of child support is at age 18 or graduation from high school, whichever occurs later.

Oklahoma. Oklahoma uses the Income Shares model to calculate child support amounts. Child support obligation ends when the child turns 18 (or as old as 20 if still in high school).

Oregon. The child support guidelines formula is based on the Income Shares Formula, calculated on gross income.

Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania uses the Income Shares model to calculate child support amounts. Support may continue past the age of 18 if the child/benefactor has certain physical or emotional challenges/disabilities.

Rhode Island. Rhode Island uses the Income Shares model to calculate child support amounts. If an obligor is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the amount of support is based on potential income.

South Carolina. South Carolina uses the Income Shares model to calculate child support amounts.

Tennessee. Tennessee uses the Income Shares model to calculate child support amounts. The obligor is responsible for support until the child turns 18 or completes high school.

Texas. Child support guidelines, by statute, are based on a percentage of income of the noncustodial parent's net income. Support terminates at age 18 or graduation from high school, whichever is later. No statute or case law requires support for college.

Utah. Child support guidelines are based on the income shares model, calculated on gross in-come. Support terminates at age 18 or when the child graduates from high school. In a divorce action, the court may order support to the age of 21.

Vermont. Vermont uses the Income Shares model to calculate child support amounts.

Virginia. Virginia uses the Income Shares model to calculate child support amounts. The obligor is responsible for paying support until the child reaches 19 or graduates from high school.

Washington. Washington uses the Income Shares model to calculate child support amounts.

West Virginia. Child support guidelines are based on the income shares model, calculated on adjusted gross income. Support terminates at age 20, or up to age 20 if the child is still enrolled in secondary school. The court may award support for college tuition.

Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, child support guidelines are based on a percentage of the obligor's income.

Wyoming. Wyoming uses the Income Shares model to calculate child support amounts.

Find a Qualified Child Support Attorney in Your State

If you are going through a divorce or having difficulty getting your spouse to pay his or her fair share of child expenses, you may not have much time (or patience) to figure everything out yourself. This is one of those legal processes that greatly benefits from the counsel of a legal professional. Get started today by calling an experienced child support attorney near you.

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