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Child support: What it costs to raise a New York child

New York couples don't typically reach for the calculator the moment they decide they want to start a family. For most, the costs that are associated with raising a child are a price they are willing to pay for that delicate bundle of joy. However, when parents get divorced, those costs are quickly considered because child support is calculated based on how much it costs to raise a child as well as other factors.

Since 1960, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released an annual report regarding the costs associated with raising children. These are used by states to set child support and foster care guidelines. In the latest report, for a married couple with two children with a middle-range income, the average annual cost in 2011 ranged from nearly $12,300 to just over $14,300 per child. By this reckoning, the lowest income families are projected to likely pay around $212,000 over the course of 17 years, while a family in the highest income group will likely pay nearly $500,000 in child rearing costs.

The annual report showed that the largest expense was funding a home, which accounted for 30 percent. Child care expenses and education followed at 18 percent, then 16 percent for food, 14 percent for transportation costs and 8 percent going towards health care.

However, these amounts only cover 17 years of the child's life. Those hefty expenses associated with college aren't considered in this annual report. An estimate by the College Board for the 2011-2012 school year, however, shows that average tuition and school-related fees were over $28,000 while room and board was over $10,000 at a four-year, non-profit private college.

Obviously, these estimates vary depending on where you live. New York typically is more expensive than many other states when it comes to the costs of raising a child. Those seeking a divorce would do well to consider these costs and discuss them in depth so that a child support figure can be agreed upon. If the couple cannot agree on their own, a judge can determine the monthly support figure for you.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Cost to Raise a Child: Around $300,000, Not Including College," Phil Izzo, June 14, 2012