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The cost of raising a child impacts child support orders

When couples in North Carolina decide to expand their family, they do not always think about all the factors that go with the decision. Sure, they understand that babies are a lot of work and they need a lot of things, but what about everything the child will need until they are a self-supporting adult? When a parent thinks about the cost of raising a child, they never think of a large number, but rather how much it costs on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis. Looking at it this way helps divorcing parents better establish a child support agreement; however, does this really end up meeting all the financial needs of the child?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture releases an annual report providing a figure of how much it costs to raise a child. Last year, headlines focused on this number, informing the public that it currently stands at $233,610. These reports have been issued since 1960 to help potential parents obtain financial health before starting a family. But, these figures also help establish child support guidelines.

When determining an appropriate amount for a child support agreement, parents must look at what they are actually spending to meet their child needs. This means looking at both necessary and discretionary items. With regards to necessary items, this means food, clothing, healthcare and housing. For discretionary items, this means private school tuition, vacations, toys, games, sports and music and dancing lessons.

Thus, parents going through a divorce have a lot to consider when it comes to the financial needs of their child. This could be a complex and lengthy process, as parents itemize what it has and will cost them to raise their child. In these matters, it might be helpful to seek legal guidance as this could help resolve any disputes that could arise.

Source:, "The Shock Factor: New Federal Report on 'The Cost of Raising a Child'," James M. Thunder, Jan. 16, 2018

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