March 2023 | Good+Foundation, Ascend Aspen Institute

Setting Realistic and Accurate Child Support Orders

This fact sheet is part of the Centering Child Well-Being in Child Support Policy series from the Ascend at the Aspen Institute and Good+Foundation. This fact sheet describes examples of effective state policies for establishing and modifying child support orders for low-income parents. Two of the strongest predictors of compliance with a child support order is the paying parent’s income and the amount of support compared to that income. Orders not aligned with a parent’s ability to pay cause problems for states, too. Uncollected support and accruing arrears impacts performance. Policies which assist with realistic orders include a low income guideline schedule, requiring a factual basis for imputation of income, outreach about modification policies, accelerated review and adjustment, and modification based on incapacitation.

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