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USDA releases report detailing cost of raising a child

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Raising a child can be quite costly in today's world. According to a new annual report known as the Cost of Raising a Child report, the USDA found that middle class families that had a child in 2012 can expect to spend $241,080 raising that child to age 17. This equates to a 2.6 percent increase since 2011 with the jump resulting from higher healthcare, child care, education, and clothing costs. The USDA claims this report is helpful for families who are planning on having children and also for courts setting child support guidelines.

Going through a divorce can be difficult, and child support is only one of a whole host of issues a splitting couple must consider. Yet, when a parent seeks sole custody of a child, it is likely in that parent's best interest to seek child support. There are two ways the amount of child support can be determined.

The first way occurs when the parents hash out an agreement amongst themselves. If the divorce in amicable, the parents may be able to decide on an amount that meets the child's needs. This amount may be enough to cover every day expenses, medical needs, extracurricular activities, and any other financial needs the parties agree upon.

If the parties cannot come to an agreement, then the issue must go before a judge who will ultimately decide if child support is appropriate and, if so, how much should be paid. When determining the amount of child support to be paid, the judge will look to several factors including the child's medical, clothing, food, educational, and child care needs. The judge may look to the child support guidelines, which are shaped by the USDA's report, to help in her decision-making. In the end, the judge seeks to find an amount that suits the best interests of the child.

An experienced family law attorney can help a parent dealing with a child support dispute. The attorney can aid in negotiating an agreement between the parties or, if that does not work, present an argument to the judge regarding the support amount. When emotions run high it is helpful to have an advocate on your side who can see the issue and arguments clearly and can help fight for what is best for the child.

Source: USDA, "Parents Projected to Spend $241,080 to Raise a Child Born in 2012, According to USDA Report," Aug. 15, 2013

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