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What do people really think about the nation's child support models?

In a post last week, our blog spent some time discussing the various models used by the 50 states in calculating child support. To recap, Georgia and 37 other states use the income shares model, which calls for the respective income of the custodial and the noncustodial parent to be considered in determining the amount of child support.

Interestingly enough, a recently published study by researchers at Arizona State University designed to uncover more about public attitudes toward this and the other child support models made some very surprising discoveries.

As part of their study, the researchers focused on posing a series of hypothetical child support cases to randomly selected prospective jurors in Tucson, essentially asking them to pretend to be a judge and set what they believe is the right amount of child support.

This method, they theorized, would not only elicit more truthful responses, but also provide better insight into how people actually think in relation to this potentially controversial topic.  

Among some of the more notable findings:

  • When it came to adjusting child support based on income changes experienced by a noncustodial parent, respondents were three times more generous than the law. For instance, one hypothetical had a noncustodial parent earning less and seeing their child support payments reduced by $100. On average, the respondents would have actually lowered this amount by $300.
  • When it came to adjusting child support based on income changes experienced by the custodial parent, respondents were okay with it moving either up or down. However, they also found that when a noncustodial parent was ordered to pay a set percentage, this should not change regardless of any income variations.
  • When it came to adjusting child support based on remarriage, the respondents believed that a stepparent's income should be taken into account.

According to the researchers, while the results of the study likely won't result in changes to the child support models, they should nevertheless serve to provide lawmakers with better insight into what the public views as equitable.

What are your thoughts on this study? Do you agree with these findings?

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible if you have any questions or concerns about child support, including enforcement or modification

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