What is child support?

Divorce is common in the United States. An often-quoted statistic is that "almost half of all marriages end in divorce." That leaves a lot of children enduring the effects of divorce.

Divorce can be an earth-shattering event for children, creating feelings of loss, confusion, fear, anger, and resentment. Several recent psychological studies indicate that children can experience these effects for years. These emotions affect how children, once grown, approach their own marriages and child rearing.

In addition to the psychological effects, divorce can have economic effects on children. Children often suffer a severe decline in their standard of living after a divorce.

Child support laws throughout the United States seek to provide some stability to the standard of living for children and to prevent or mitigate this decline. Child support laws also seek to provide some sense of order after the disruption of divorce and to smooth over the transition from a unified, nuclear family to a two household family, with the spouses/parents living separate and apart.

The law requires parents to support their children. It doesn’t matter if the parents are married, or if they are living together. The responsibility of child support is that of the parents as individuals or as a unit. Indeed, it doesn’t matter if the parents have not had no continued contact after the conception of the child. All parents are legally responsible for child support.

Courts are very concerned with providing for children’s needs, and one of the most basic needs is economic support. It is in the interests of the state and the court to make sure that children do not slip into poverty, and that they have the ability to grow up to become happy, productive members of society.

The goal of the state support guidelines and the court system is to ensure that each child’s standard of living is persevered, as much as possible, to that which would have occurred had the divorce or separation not occurred.