All parents, whether they’re married to each other or not, must support their children financially. Every state has its own child support guidelines; these are the starting point for every decision about who will pay child support and how much. In general, the primary factors the court will consider are how much each parent earns and how much time each parent spends with the children. Other factors can come into play, too, including whether either parent has the ability to earn more, whether the child has special needs, and which parent pays for child care and health insurance. Support can last until the child is 18 or even longer, depending on where the parents and child live and on the child’s needs.
State by State Child Support Laws: